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Web Designer/Developer

Web designers/developers are responsible for the design, layout and coding of a website. They are involved with the technical and graphic aspects of a website, how the site works and how it looks. They can also be involved with the maintenance and updating of an existing site.

Their role is a combination of computing expertise and creativity.

A business may rely on its site to sell products and services, to provide information or to get viewers to respond, so the job of the web designer/developer involves making the site as attractive, clear and easy to use as possible.

The web designer/developer:

  • gathers the content elements including text, images, logos, video, sound and animation
  • lays out the web pages, placing elements to fit the design that has been agreed
  • tests the website interaction and identifies any technical problems
  • tests the website performance on different search engines and platforms
  • uploads the site onto a server and registers it with search engines.

A web designer/developer often works as part of a team, which may include a web writer/editor and an account manager. They may advise clients on ways of using the web to meet their business needs.

A web designer/developer normally works between 37 and 40 hours a week, 9.00am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Many designers/developers are self-employed and may work from home. Part-time and flexible hours may be available.

Salaries range from around £20,000 to £45,000 or more.

A web designer/developer should:

  • have skills in website coding and graphics software packages
  • have creativity and imagination
  • be able to communicate their ideas clearly
  • be able to work to tight deadlines
  • be able to handle a number of tasks simultaneously
  • be interested in the internet and the possibilities it offers businesses.

Web designers/developers are employed across all industry sectors from finance and retail to public organisations.

They can start their careers via a number of different routes. They may study graphic design, specialising in web development, or begin by studying for computing qualifications. Many have a degree or foundation degree but some employers will be more interested in a strong portfolio of work and experience.

The normal progression route for a web designer/developer is to become a senior or principal web designer/developer, perhaps leading a design team. They may be able to become self-employed. Opportunities also exist in lecturing and training.

What is the work like?

Web designers/developers are responsible for the design, layout and coding of a website. They are involved with the technical and graphic aspects of a website, how the site works and how it looks. They can also be involved with the maintenance and updating of an existing site.

Their role is a combination of computing expertise, including ensuring the site loads correctly and that all its functions work properly, and creativity. Websites commonly integrate user actions, graphics, multimedia and design features.

They work closely with the client or business function responsible for the website. A business may rely on its site to sell products and services, to provide information or to get viewers to respond, so the job of the web designer/developer involves making the site as attractive, clear and easy to use as possible.

The stages in designing a website are:

  • identifying the purpose of the website and its target audience
  • identifying what type of content should be included
  • deciding on what functions the site needs to offer which may include contact forms, payment handling, shopping baskets, forums or message boards, for example
  • working out the structure of the site and which pages will link to each other
  • deciding on layout, colours, typography and styles
  • ensuring that the website conforms to technical and user standards.

The web designer/developer will:

  • gather the content elements which may include text, images, logos, video, sound and animation
  • lay out the web pages, placing elements to fit the design that has been agreed
  • test the website interaction and identify any technical problems
  • test the website performance on different search engines and platforms
  • upload the site onto a server and register it with search engines.

Creating the pages and the functions for the website involves developing programming code, either by writing it from scratch or using website design and graphics software.

Designers/developers have to ensure that the sites they work on are easily accessible via different platforms (PCs, Macs, mobile phones, digital TV and other digital devices). They also need to consider the needs of people with visual and other impairments.

A web designer/developer often works as part of a team, which may include a web writer/editor and an account manager. They may advise clients on ways of using the web to meet their business needs and will often be asked to suggest the latest functions and tools that could be used to increase a site's attractiveness and effectiveness.

Hours and environment

A web designer/developer normally works between 37 and 40 hours a week, 9.00am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Additional hours may be required to meet deadlines, which could include evenings and weekends.

Many designers/developers are self-employed and may work from home. Part-time and flexible hours may be available.

It is usual to work in an open plan office. Some travelling may be required if designers/developers need to meet clients.

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • Starting salaries may be around £20,000 a year.
  • With experience, web designers/developers may earn about £30,000.
  • Salaries for senior designers/developers may be £45,000 or more.

Skills and personal qualities

A web designer/developer should:

  • have skills in website coding and graphics software packages
  • have creativity and imagination
  • be adaptable and able to pick up new techniques
  • be able to work on their own or in a team
  • be able to work with clients and other people involved in the project or business
  • be able to communicate their ideas clearly
  • be able to work to tight deadlines
  • be thorough and precise in their work
  • be able to handle a number of tasks at the same time.

Interests

It is important to be interested in:

  • keeping up to date with web technology and design trends
  • the internet and the possibilities it offers businesses.

Getting in

Web designers/developers are employed across all industry sectors from finance and retail to public organisations. They may be employed by design and marketing agencies, IT consultancies and software houses or work in an organisation's own marketing or IT department.

There are job opportunities throughout the UK, with a higher concentration in the South East. There are also opportunities overseas.

Vacancies are advertised on company and specialist recruitment websites and in trade publications such as Design Week, Computer Weekly and Computing.

Entry routes

Web designers/developers can start their careers via a number of different routes. They may study information technology, specialising in web development or begin by studying for design qualifications. Many have a degree or foundation degree, but some employers will be more interested in a strong portfolio of work and experience.

The Diplomas in information technology or creative and media may be relevant.

There is a wide range of qualifications that give a good grounding in web design, IT and computing subjects, interactive design, graphic design and internet technology, including:

  • A level applied ICT.
  • BTEC Awards, Certificates and Diplomas in art and design or media production.
  • BTEC Awards, Certificates and Diplomas for IT professionals, IT users and in information technology (specialist).
  • Further specific courses offered by organisations such as OCR, City and Guilds, ABC and the British Computer Society.
  • BTEC HNC/HND or foundation degree in media or computing subjects. Colleges normally ask for at least one A level and four GCSEs (A*-C) or a BTEC National Certificate/Diploma in a relevant subject. Courses can be full time or part time, and some colleges offer sandwich courses, with one year's work experience.
  • Degrees in design, web development, web design, multimedia design and web content management. Applicants usually need at least two A levels and five GCSEs (A*-C), but should check with individual colleges and universities for specific entry requirements.

    Training

    Training is done on the job, and includes in-house and external training courses.

    Web designers/developers need to keep up to date with new software, technology and design trends.

    Qualifications can be taken through the British Computer Society (BCS) and Certified International Web (CIW). A number of private sector companies and various websites also offer training courses.

    Getting on

    The normal progression route for a web designer/developer is to become a senior or principal web designer/developer, perhaps leading a design team.

    Experienced web designers/developers can become self-employed. Opportunities also exist in lecturing and training.

    Overseas work is possible.

    Further information

    The British Computer Society (BCS), 1st Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA. 01793 417417. Website: www.bcs.org

    Certified International Web (CIW). Website: www.ciwcertified.com

    e-skills UK. 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR. 020 7963 8920. Website: www.e-skills.com/careers

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

 

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