Whether you are a seasoned web designer or a beginner, there are always ways that you can improve your web design skills. The web is constantly changing, and so are web user’s habits and preferences. So, the world of web design is no place for complacency. If you don’t keep up to date with developments, you could find yourself falling behind your competition.
It might be challenging to find the time to learn new tricks. But, spending an hour or two a week improving your web design skills will pay off in the long run. Here are some top tips to help you hone your web design skills.
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Make Time for Training and Learning
There are no shortcuts to learning any skill. If you want to take your website designs from adequate to awesome, you must put in the time. If you are a full-time web designer, you will probably be busy meeting client deadlines. Still, everyone needs to find time to improve themselves. Setting aside time for training and learning on a specific day of the week might help you get into a routine. Once clients and your team get used to you not being available on that day, hopefully, they won’t attempt to contact you. The most important thing is that you make the time available to continue growing your web design skills because no one else will do it for you.
Become a Design Critic
No respectable artist would steal another’s ideas. Still, you can learn a lot by looking at other websites you admire. Try looking at other people’s websites through the eyes of a critic. Ask yourself what you like about the websites and what do you dislike. Then go one step further and delve further into why one site works and another does not. Perhaps the color palette doesn’t fit the image of the brand? Or does the typography make the site look too busy? Remember, though, try not to be too critical. You are not looking to confirm your ability; you are looking to learn from other sites to improve your skills.
Experiment in a Test Environment
Things can go wrong when you are trying new ideas or testing new plugins. It is never a good idea to experiment on a live client website. It is best to set up a local development environment when you are practicing your web design skills. You could try replicating something you have seen on another website, for example. Or you could see how a radical change to the way that you usually design sites would look. If you keep your experimenting in the sandbox, it won’t matter if you break something. You can always scrap a test website and start over again.
Brush Up on Theory
Hands-on practice is a great way to learn a skill. But understanding the theory of good web design will also help you become a better web designer. So, set some time aside for some reading as well as playing in the sandbox. Brush up on the basics, like typography and color theory. It can be easy to get into bad habits or be pushed by clients in the wrong direction. Refreshing your knowledge of web design principles might help you make better design decisions. Reading books will also help you keep up to date with things like the latest user interface (UI) trends and user experience (UX) design principles.
Keep on Top of Trends
Trends often change in web design. What’s in today may be out tomorrow. And advances in technology often make what was thought to be impossible, like parallax scrolling, possible. There is no need to adopt every new technique that comes along blindly. But keeping on top of trends will make it easier to adopt new methods should they be requested by a client. And, of course, you don’t want the websites that you develop to look outdated. One of the best ways to follow the trends is to subscribe to some good web design blogs, which often post articles about the latest trends in web design.
Give and Get Feedback
Getting some feedback from other designers can help you see things about your designs that, perhaps, you had missed. And praise from your peers is an excellent motivator, too. Feedback can be beneficial both ways. Providing feedback to other web designers might improve their skills. It might also help you become more self-critical of your work. There are plenty of web design forums that enable this type of interaction. Forums can also be a valuable place to share problems and get help with solutions. You may not like what some people say about your websites. However, it can be beneficial to get a fresh perspective on your work.
Enter Web Design Competitions
One of the best ways to put your web design skills to the test is to enter competitions. When you enter a web design competition, you will usually be given a tight specification for a website. Working to a spec might entail producing a website in a niche and style different from your usual work. But working outside your comfort zone will teach new skills and possibly make you a more versatile web designer. As a bonus, web design competitions also often offer cash prizes. And being a competition winner also provides a great marketing opportunity that could win you some new clients.
Revisit Some of Your Old Projects
As you have learned new skills, your approach to web design will have changed. Challenges that seemed impossible in the past may now be possible to overcome with new techniques. It can be a beneficial exercise to go back to past projects and redesign them again using the skills and knowledge you now possess. So, try revisiting the design spec for an old project, then rebuild the site from scratch in your sandbox. Practicing new techniques on real-life websites in a test environment is an excellent way to see how new skills and techniques can be implemented in future projects.
To sum up, web design is not a discipline that can be mastered; it is a skill that needs to be constantly honed. So, the best advice is to keep abreast of new developments, keep trying new techniques in the sandbox, and keep on learning! Don’t be disheartened if you make some mistakes along the way because that is a superb way of learning.