A Web Designer’s Best Tools are Customer Service and Technical Skill
Guest Post on working as a web designer.
Considered working as a Web Designer? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect in the position, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more.
Currently I am a web designer. I do graphic design as well as web-work for a variety of companies. I have been independently contracting work for nearly 10 years.
As a graphic designer I end up doing a lot of website work. Most of the time this entails designing web pages and content for customers. This involves using a lot of Dreamweaver and programming Java and Perl for specific applications. What many people do not know is that this is a highly customer service oriented field that requires one to stay on top of facilitating the needs of customers in order to ensure you do not have to waste time and money by redoing assignments.
On a scale from one to ten I would rate this job an eight as I am satisfied with my work. But, as with most creative fields to unleash one’s true enthusiasm a certain level of freedom must be achieved. That is why I choose to work as an independant contractor, picking the assignments that interest me the most.
Getting praise from customers helps to reinforce the feeling that I have found my sweet spot in life. Given that the average customer has no idea how to use PHP or program a web-page they are usually astounded by the type of work that gets produced.
I initially got started doing Technical Support for a company called DataStorm in the Midwest. This job later helped springboard me into more technologically advanced fields. I collected professional credentials starting with an A+ certification and went from there. The fact that I had so much computer based work experience made it easy for me to branch out into other more advanced fields. Tech support looks good on a resume especially for computer based jobs, it shows you can deal with customers well.
When it comes to doing web work the first thing most people learn the hard way is that the customer is always right. This may seem cliché, but this is very true. It is important to consider that working as an independent contractor means you have to meet the client’s specifications prior to getting paid. I remember one particular instance when I assumed that an individual real estate agent wanted a nondescript, standard website. I should not have made assumptions, because I had to rework the entirety of their website on my own time in order to get the order completed on time. Now I always ask as many questions as necessary in order to ensure I know exactly what I need to be doing for the customer.
The biggest thing I learned outside of school is that school does not count for everything. Many people would prefer to hire someone with less education and more real world experience. This is why many people are choosing to obtain certifications in specific skills in order to spend more time finding real world work. Making sure you are formally certified in programs such as Dreamweaver help show a potential employer that you’re going to do more than give them a Microsoft FrontPage template. So, it is important to weigh the options and decide what will be the best for your future before spending all your time and money on going to school.
Providing unique content for customers is an ever changing experience. This can help makes things interesting day to day without having to worry about work being too monotonous. Not knowing exactly what you are going to have to do from one day to another can at times be stressful, but it can also make things exciting because you never know what type of assignment you’re going to get.
The challenge of interpreting a customer’s requests can make anyone doing graphic design or web design want to pull their hair out. This is why many large companies hire people to specifically do this type of task. Of course with smaller companies and individuals that independently contract work this opportunity is not often afforded.
Doing web-work can be a very stressful job. The most important thing is being able to separate work from home life. This is why many people, such as myself, find it is a good idea to do work in a separate home office. This makes it so that you can “go to work” and then leave work in a specified area within your home.
A rough salary for this position is around 30 to 45 thousand a year. That is, of course, only if you put forth a substantial effort in order to find enough work to do the job full time or, in many cases, much more than full time.
I try to take a week or two of vacation a year. Sometimes it can seem like it is not enough, but it just depends on how well I plan for the vacation. Not having to worry about work that needs done when I get back helps me to truly enjoy my vacation and to leave work at work.
In order to succeed in this field of web and graphic design, you can go one of two routes. You can either go to school and get a degree specific to graphic design or merely collect certifications and on the job experience. The degree route will be more successful at reaching a variety of different companies. But, consider for a moment that most of what you may learn in school will be out of date by the time you finish school. Real world experience with HTML, Java, CGI, Perl and .Net Programming will go much further than a degree, but if you have both you will be on top of the pack. This is because the industry is rapidly changing and in order to stay current getting certified in newer programs and techniques is a great way to stay current and employable.
I would tell anyone considering a job in web-design or graphic-design to check their local markets. If you are in a larger city it may seem like there is more work. But, by the same rationale there are many more people offering these services, therefore if you can afford to work, or even live in a more rural area you may find yourself with more work than you can handle. But, don’t go too rural because horses and cows do not generally need web pages.
If I could write my own ticket I would start my own company (by hiring people to delegate work to) in order to do what I’m doing on a bigger scale. If I had a few people under me it would be easier to book a larger amount of work and make substantially more money.
This is a true career story as told to ComputerJobs.net.