The online world is a rapidly changing universe and it can be hard to keep up. For web designers, however, staying on top of the latest trends in design and tech is a job necessity. The good news is, you don’t need to master every new technique or technology in order to succeed. To help you out, we’ve narrowed it down to five fundamental skills to have in your arsenal in 2015. Armed with these 5, you can feel confident you’re up-to-date and ready to provide clients with professional, modern and stunning websites.
Mobile devices are a game changer for business owners, web designers and SEO experts alike. Search engines like Google are demanding that websites be mobile optimized and penalize those that aren’t. Designers need to learn new design rules when it comes to the aesthetics of the “small screen.”
Because mobile screens are so small and because people use their mobile devices on the go, they browse with a purpose. Less interested in perusing a site leisurely, they’re usually looking for very specific information. A good mobile site or app should be clearly organized and designed to make it easy for users to find what they need. In 2014, mobile browsing officially surpassed desktop browsing, meaning that knowing how to design well for mobile is no longer optional. It’s required.
Unlike many of online website creators, Wix offers complete design flexibility, making it a darling for many web designers who want to be able to offer a low cost option to smaller clients. Wix lets you choose between starting with a blank page or with one of their thousands of fully-customizable website templates. Pick one and let your creativity juices flow freely.
Because the Wix editor is drag n’ drop, code free and super-intuitive, you can create a beautiful and entirely unique web design in a matter of hours. This makes it an invaluable tool for web designers. When you design affordable websites that go live in just hours or days, you can attract small business clients and quickly expand your portfolio of completed projects. With Wix’s extensive App Market and tools to help businesses promote themselves, you’ll be able to add in nearly any functionality imaginable to the sites you design.
If you’re designing websites for businesses, many of your clients will ask you about how to rank well on Google. To be a serious player, you have to know how to design with SEO in mind. While you don’t need to be an expert in running PPC campaigns, you do need to understand how a website’s layout affects the way the site will rank in searches. Sites that attract users, pique their interest and get them to stick around and click will fare well on Google. Contrast this with sites that users quickly click or “bounce” away from. High bounce rates can result in penalties from Google, so try to create web designs that get users interested and clicking immediately.
We also recommend learning a bit of the basics about keyword analysis. Help your clients select a few key words or phrases to target and then include those words in titles and headlines on the website. You can also include keywords as “Alt Text” or descriptions of the images on the site. Your clients will be impressed when you can help them rank higher in search engines.
While we won’t send you back to school to become a professional videographer, knowing the basics of video editing is an invaluable tool for any designer. YouTube’s popularity is well-established and, increasingly, businesses large and small are looking to beef up their YouTube channels and incorporate videos into their websites. Both video landing pages and video backgrounds are very popular in web design right now.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there to help you manage, design and edit videos. One of our favorites is WeVideo. Hosted entirely on the cloud, you can use it to create a montage using video footage or stills. WeVideo makes it easy to compile, edit and collaborate with others to create professional-looking videos.
InVision is a tool that helps you both create prototypes and manage your projects with your clients. Upload your designs to the platform and then add in “hotspots.” These hotspots make your screens clickable and interactive so your designs can mimic the functionality they will have once they are live. InVision is intuitive and easy-to-use, making it a great tool to use to impress your clients. You can quickly send them a link to your prototype; they’ll be excited to get an accurate sense of how their final website or app will look. Since the first project is free, you’ve got nothing to lose in trying it out!
In addition to recommending these great skills for your toolkit, Wix can also help you get clients! Become a Wix pro: Post your Wix portfolio in the Wix Arena and bid on design jobs from clients around the world.
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