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New Skills to Acquire: What Do You Need to Design on the Cutting Edge of the Web?

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Becoming a successful web designer is no longer about just knowing how to code a web page. It takes knowledge of the latest design techniques, an understanding of some basic scripting, and a firm grasp of how to communicate to ensure that one can become successful in web design.

Below is a list of the new skills that every web designer, new or seasoned, needs to master before they can say they have everything needed to create flawless, cutting-edge designs.

1.   Working With CSS3 and HTML5

CSS3 and HTML 5 are the two latest revisions of two programming technologies that are at the heart of web design. Web designers need to know that more than just a few features have been added in these latest revisions.

New concepts introduced by CSS3 and HTML 5 have changed the way web design works.

For example, the box model is more important than ever to understand. Without it, taking advantage of the flexible box model and the way it can easily create responsive web layouts is next to impossible.

Another key note to highlight are the various features that CSS3 and HTML 5 have included. An understanding of how to work with things like selectors, pseudo-elements, CSS3-driven animations and shapes, and more descriptive HTML elements like <article&gt are all required to make cutting-edge layouts that work across platforms.

2.   Communication Skills

While not necessarily a new skill for web designers, a definite polishing of communication skills is a necessity to stay competitive when it comes to web design.

The reasoning behind it is this: the bounty of new features that modern web design can provide coupled with the various layout principles such as parallax design and responsive web design means that only the designer will know what is possible.

Creating a cutting-edge design requires that the designer not only knows what can be created but how to effectively present the concept as well. This is imperative in any environment where the person pushing for a new web design is not the same as the person creating it, or where there is a team working in collaboration with people from other disciplines, such as coders, to create a design.

3.   An Understanding of Programming

While designers will seldom be the ones creating widgets, plugins, and edits to code, they should be at least familiar with popular web development languages like PHP and JavaScript.

The reason for this is that very few websites are static. Business owners, particularly those who own small to medium businesses, opt for easy-to-use, dynamic content creation platforms like WordPress and Joomla. These platforms require a moderate understanding of PHP and JavaScript to create templates for them.

Even when not working with layouts, it’s important to have an intermediate level of JavaScript understanding under one’s belt. This allows for things like AJAX, a cross-platform combination of JavaScript and XML designed for asynchronous functions, to be used to give an extra layer of complexity and impressiveness to what might otherwise be bland web designs.

4.   Online Marketing and Presentation Design

The responsibilities of web designers grow each day. It is no longer enough to simply ensure that a layout contains the right information; it also needs to be presented in a way that positively interacts with a website’s online marketing efforts.

That’s why understanding how to combine the principles commonly presented in online marketing with design is another necessary skill required to create successful cutting-edge web designs.

This includes knowing how header elements such as h1 and h2 influence SEO, understanding when it’s best to use certain colors for design elements, and perhaps most importantly, the principles of A/B testing, conversion rate optimization and consumer focus testing. The proper use of these elements separates the difference between a page that one might use for a web designer’s portfolio website, and a design that a Fortune 500 bank might opt to use.

5.   Understanding Core Principles Before “Soft” Skills

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to be familiar with the core concepts that underlie the various complex features that can be used in web design.

“Soft” skills that translate to working with things like WYSIWYG editors and SDKs will only take a web designer so far. They can also act as hindrances when trying to create a new, successful design due to the limitations that they typically impose.

This means that tools like these should be used in addition to a web design, not as a foundation.

Furthermore, knowing the principles that lie beneath these soft skills will ensure that a web designer has everything needed to create websites that are optimized for the countless devices and environments where a website might be viewed.

6.   Keep Up With the Latest Trends

There’s a reason that the skills required to keep up with the latest trends in web design are listed last. Only when the aforementioned skills are mastered can a web designer begin approaching the top levels of web design.

When one is ready for this, it’s imperative to begin looking not only the latest web design digests, but also the competition. This is where ideas that transcend even more popular concepts like responsive web design, parallax design principles, and other trending design can be found.

It’s also the best way to keep up with what can be defined as “cutting edge”.

When designers stay abreast of the latest trends while displaying a mastery of all the basics of modern web design, they are able to create amazing designs that do more than simply recycle existing designs.

Achieving excellence in web design is no longer about just being able to create something shiny and different. It now requires the skills to understand the inner workings of how web pages work, how visitors will view a page, and how effective the content on a page is presented.

By acquiring the skills listed here, any web designer should be equipped with the tools necessary to create cutting-edge websites.

Sources:

http://code.tutsplus.com/tutorials/28-html5-features-tips-and-techniques-you-must-know–net-13520

http://www.vandelaydesign.com/communication-tips/