How Amateurs Should Learn Web Design?

Posted on May 27, 2012 by

Many people are interested with web design and though they don’t want to make it a new career, a good instruction can mean the difference between success and failure. This article offers up a few basic advices that amateurs should consider before learning about web design.

Many amateurs start by watching many video tutorials on Web design to quickly pick up some competency and knowledge on design tools like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Even for amateur designers a solid understanding on design tools is critical. However, amateurs should be aware that knowing how to use design software and knowing how to come up with a great design are two different things.

Web design isn’t about computers and design tools, it’s about effective visual communications. Each project has a unique set of goals, which may include transmitting information in a meaningful way or persuading someone to buy a product online. Just like professionals, amateurs should also know how to make boring things more interesting. They need to have a solid sense of aesthetics and turn something downright ugly into something marvelous. Being a Web designer is about trying to simplify many complex things, that is to clarify complex messages and break them down into manageable chunks while placing an emphasis on what matters. Web designers should understand people and understand explicitly about basics of human psychology. What motivates people to buy or read something? How can the design be leveraged to help people understand it better? How will people react to visual styles used in a design? It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to come up with an answer to these questions.

In a nutshell, it is easy for amateurs to confuse learning design with learning Photoshop; although closely interwoven, both are two distinct disciplines. Amateurs who stop at lessons on design software are like learning how to write but without understanding grammar.

Some amateurs have an amazing visual communication skill and an innate sense of design, which allow them to figure things out in a few weeks what many professionals took years. Even if some amateurs are really gifted individuals, they shouldn’t be tempted to skip essential basics. No matter who they are, amateurs can benefit from solid explanations on basic principles of Web design. They should find books that serve as Web design book for non-Web designer. Books with non-technical explanations can prove invaluable for amateurs throughout their freelancing careers.

For example, Web design books should offer basic explanations on typographic principles, which is an important foundation to focus on. Amateurs should know how to mix typefaces properly. Amateurs who don’t know how to handle tracking, x-height, ascender, baseline and serif are more likely to create poor designs.

Web design is a highly subjective art and a design is often considered interesting when it is nicely in contrast against traditional methods. Understanding the principles and basic design of Web design will empower amateurs to create solid, unique results.

Amateurs don’t have the privilege of acquiring proper education from Web design school and the fastest way for them to learn about Web design is to learn how not to design something bad. Critiquing web designs is not reserved only for top designers; amateurs also need to learn how to do it as they learn the design skill. Everyone has the basic instincts in how a good web design should be; amateurs should visit a website that they consider to have a bad design, save the webpage on their computer and try to modify it. This gives them something to get excited with and encourage them to think critically. Fortunately for them, the World Wide Web is full of horrid designs. Of choose, criticizing others’ works is easier than doing the same thing to ours. When we create a web design, our biases may get in the way.

Learning to spot and fix faults elsewhere can help amateurs to avoid making the same mistake. Web design is often a very technical process and for some reasons, people link creative skills closely with self-esteem. No one likes being accused that they are a lousy Web designer, even if they are amateurs who just get starting. Amateurs shouldn’t get intimidated or frustrated when professionals try to teach them some creative skills. They should understand that criticism is essential in learning; however they should only seek suggestions from those who have encouraging attitudes, not deprecating ones. Time and practice are two important ingredients for shaping a great web designer. Many design principles can be learned in a few minutes, but take years to master. No amateur is going to be a full-fledged professional in one night.

Direct experience can be a very fulfilling thing and in many cases, it can change lives. Amateurs may not want to make a living from Web design, but the skill can be one of the greatest things that can ever happen to them. Once again, web design is a highly technical and creative skill; and those who try to skip any of these often fall short badly.

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