|On Becoming a Web Designer or Web Developer|
Which skills do I need to become a Web designeror Web Developer?
As does the older title Webmaster, Web designerand Web developer cover a wide spectrum of Web-related jobs and skills. So, the answer to the question above depends on your aptitude and what you want to do in your career. For example, do you want to focus more on the artistic side, such as graphics, photos and animation, or on the analytic, backend stuff, like writing programs to pop open browser windows, tap databases and automatically customize Web pages for registered users? Do you want to develop razzle-dazzle entertainment sites, corporate e-commerce sites, or interactive training sites?
While it's logical to assume that Web design requires more artistic skills and Web development requires more analytic skills, unfortunately, employers don't always make that distinction and often use the terms Web design and Web development synonymously. But, according to the World Organization of Web Masters (WOW), a professional organization that offers related certifications, there is a difference:
WOW also offers a Professional Web Administrator Certification, among others.
Web design and development are typically specialized jobs, as are many so-called "computer jobs." Usually, especially at mid- to large-size corporations, no one person designs, develops and maintains a site, but rather is part of a team, with each member specializing. Still, each team member usually needs more than one skill and must be at least familiar with the other team members' skills. At least some team members must possess both artistic and analytic abilities to some degree.
There was a time not too long ago, when you needed to know only HTML. But those days are pretty much gone, as new technologies rapidly emerge and old ones evolve. If you're serious about becoming a top-notch Web designer or developer, learning never stops. (That's just a "heads-up" and not meant to scare you away. The whole computer industry is like that.) To land a good-paying job these days at a big company with bennies and perks, you typically need at least two or three, rock-solid skills besides HTML.
For example, Microsoft's MCP+Site Building Certification is a good start, but is mostly for elementary design and file management, using Microsoft's FrontPage. (For the most part, the same goes for Macromedia's Dreamweaver Certifications.) Adding two or more credentials among Photoshop, Flash, Director and Fireworks will likely go a lot farther. But, again, it depends on what you want to do. The latter credentials are more for artistic types, but you'd still need some analytic, specialized-computer and other skills to take full advantage of the applications.
Additionally, even though employers may allow you to use a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG or "wizzy-wig") editor like FrontPage or Macromedia's Dreamweaver, both of which automatically do much of the HTML coding in the background, some still prefer that you also know how to code by hand. That's because the WYSIWYG editors, although improving, aren't perfect. They also can't do complex or specialized coding for every circumstance.
Besides HTML—still a basic must—and the applications mentioned above, below are some of the Web skills that are hot, but not necessarily in the order shown. To look up the terminology, try the High-Tech Dictionary. Alternately, search for a term by typing it in your Web browser's URL window. Also check the sidebar for related sites and articles.
But you don't have to take this writer's word for it. What really counts are the skills employers say they want. One of the best ways to research what you want to do in Web design or development, plus learn what's hot and pays well, is to perform a simulated job search before you pick your courses. For example, these two jobs were listed at ComputerJobs.com for the search term Web design.
Note that both mixweb design with web development, as typical. The latter asks for a lot, and the skills jump back and forth across the artistic and analytic boundaries—not to mention, it requires other specialty skills. A job of this type with fewer Web-skill demands might open the door for a worker who already has experience in an industry, such as insurance, but who also wants to change careers to Web design and development.
It is likely that if an employer says a Web skill is required, then you can bet you need to know it well. (On the other hand, employers typically want the "perfect" candidate, but will usually settle for who they can get, especially in a job seekers' market.) If an employer says it's desired, preferred or a plus, then you might get away with "familiarity without interest." However, the employer may want you to learn more about it on the job, and then apply what you learned. So, while you might be able to get your foot in the door on familiarity alone, to keep your job, you might have to develop an interest and hone your skills.
To research more job descriptions like those above, start by searching the job banks in Internet Jobs and Computer Jobs. In the meantime, it's a good idea to start learning the basics, such as Internet, HTML and general computer skills.
Searching: Technical supports Equal