Web Design Career Tracks

Many Web designers come to the position with some formal training in the arts or design, and a degree in graphic design or visual arts is often desired. Still, the underlying artistic nature of the job means that if you have a portfolio of work and can demonstrate proficiency with the necessary design software, then you will be viewed as a qualified candidate, even without a diploma in design. The titles that people use to describe positions in Web design are not standard by any means, and sometimes the words “Web designer” and “Web developer” are used interchangeably.

The ensuing job titles and brief descriptions outline the major careers available in Web design, from entry level to senior management.

Web Graphic Designer

Web graphic designer is an entry-level position that requires as much knowledge of design-tool software as it does creative energy. Web graphic designers create graphic elements for websites, including banner ads, buttons, and other navigational elements. You’ll need to know Adobe PhotoShop, ImageReady, GOLive, and other design programs, and be able to create graphics that can be sized and compressed to work well in a Web environment.

A bachelor’s degree is not usually necessary, but an associate’s is certainly a plus. Of course, you must have a portfolio of work (digital and/or traditional) to demonstrate your abilities.

Web Designer

The title of Web designer can mean many different things, from a straightforward graphic designer to one who is responsible for an entire website. In most cases a Web designer is tasked with combining the graphic, textual, and other elements of a site to create an appealing layout. This work may also include using JavaScript and other scripting devices to create dynamic effects. Generally, a BS in graphic arts or commensurate experience is required.

Multimedia Web Designer

Multimedia Web designers are often found in a large Web development team environment. Multimedia designers are responsible for creating sophisticated, content-rich presentations using applications such as Macromedia Shockwave, Director, or Flash. Traditional degrees are not usually required, but demonstrated proficiency with the programs, and a good portfolio, are necessary.

User Interface (UI) Designer

The UI designer is responsible for the overall experience that visitors to a site will have, including layout, presentation, and navigation. Being a UI designer involves a great deal of interaction with marketing and other departments as you work to present the right corporate image and make sure your site is “on message.” UI designers also need skills and knowledge in the areas of aesthetics and human factors such as “usability”—they make sure a site is clear, concise, and easy to use. A BS or MS in some sort of design field is usually required.

Website Architect

While UI designers are responsible for how information at a website is presented, website architects are responsible for what gets presented. Being a website architect is a high-level position that requires multidisciplinary skill sets, including business analysis and human-factors analysis. Website architects need to understand human nature and how it pertains to the Web environment. They are tasked with helping a company meet its business goals through better Web design. A BS or MS is usually required, as well as experience in UI and Web design. In some cases a degree in psychology is desired.