How to Know if a Career in WordPress Web Design is Right for You

Web design and development are among the fastest and best careers today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that web development will grow 27% through 2024 with an average wage of over $66k per year. The typical entry position only requires an associate’s degree. Many developers are self-taught and self-employed. Others are part of teams where they perform part of the tasks in a team environment. Most work full time.

Needless to say, a career in web design and development is a good idea. In this series we’ll look at what it takes to launch a successful career in web design. We’ll look at the people involved, the skills needed, and the process from start to finish.

How to Know if WordPress Web Design is Right for You

Let’s look at some of the tasks that are required for designers and developers. If these tasks sound good to you then you will most likely enjoy this career choice.

Some of the tasks include:

  • Meeting with clients to determine the needs of the website.
  • Working with team members to determine the content of the site.
  • Creating a mock-up of the design based on the client’s needs.
  • Creating graphics for the site.
  • Creating code (usually HTML, JavaScript, PHP, CSS, or SQL) to perform desired functions.
  • Choose themes and plugins.
  • Modify the design as needed.

If you’re a freelancer that works alone you’ll be responsible for all of these tasks. If you work with a team (either as part of a team or as a team that you hire), and depending on your role, you could be responsible to manage the project and the team. Freelancers will have business management tasks as well, which include:

  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Customer service

Designers and developers must be driven to meet client’s deadlines and they must take goals seriously. This requires:

  • Concentration – they must have the ability to work on project for long periods of time.
  • Detail oriented – all of the elements must be thoroughly thought through. Code is especially important as one minor error can bring down a server and affect thousands of websites (just ask Amazon).
  • Creativity – using modern design trends for layouts, graphics, fonts, colors, and even going beyond the standard and creating new designs that make your work stand out (in a good way, of course).
  • Soft skills – developers and designers have to communicate with clients that don’t know anything about web design. This requires patience and being thorough in asking and answering questions.

Related Careers

There are lots of related careers that designers and developers can move into. They include:

  • Computer programming
  • Database administrator
  • Graphics designer
  • Information systems Management
  • Security analyst
  • Software developer
  • Systems analyst

Most of these careers require bachelor’s degrees. The pay ranges from around $50k to over $100k. Most are in high demand. Even if you decide that web design and development is not for you, you have similar careers to move into that use your skills.

Let’s Discuss

  • What skills do you see as the most important to a web design career?
  • Do you prefer to design and develop the site yourself or do you prefer to be part of a team?
  • What other careers do you see as related to web design and development?

Let us know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading. Please subscribe if you haven’t already.

Featured image by Lee Campbell

Where to Get Design Ideas for Your WordPress Layouts

The days of WordPress being just a blogging platform are long over. WordPress can now be used to create practically any type of website you can imagine. With all of the themes and design tools available, and the ability to expand WordPress even further by adding your own code and plugins, the sky is the limit for your WordPress design.

One question I’m often asked is where to get ideas for WordPress designs. I like this question. There are actually a lot of good places to get ideas. Here is a look at some of my favorite methods of getting ideas layout designs for my WordPress projects.

Keep in mind the idea isn’t to directly copy another design. Instead, it is to get ideas to improve on, incorporate into other ideas, expand, etc.; using them with the idea of creating something unique.

What to Look For

There are lots of places to get ideas. One thing to keep in mind is it doesn’t matter what was used to create the website. It doesn’t have to be a WordPress website. It could have been created with any builder, such as Divi, Wix, Elementor, etc. The idea is to look for layouts and design elements that you like.

Coffee – a Divi child theme

For layouts I prefer to take a step-back approach and see an image of the entire layout at once. This way I can see the individual elements and see how they work together. The layout should tell the story you want it to tell. This is easier to see when viewing a smaller image rather than seeing the website full-screen. Try to pay attention to the layout rather than the placeholder images. The two things that stand out about the theme above is it looks very different when there are no placeholder images which can draw attention away from the design, and it’s hard to tell much about it when seeing the full screen image.

Pinterest

Pinterest is one of my favorite places to look at website layouts. Just type in keywords like web design, website layout, or similar and you’ll see more than you need. You can even look for colors. It will give you a few filters across the top so you can narrow down your choices. Be careful though, once you start searching on Pinterest it’s easy to stay there for several days at a time (well, maybe several hours, but the point is the same).

Theme Sell Sites

Another great place to get ideas is from theme sites such as ThemeForest or the marketplaces. I like to select the popular themes and look at their demos. They don’t even have to be for WordPress. The image above is from a WordPress theme called Jupiter 5.

Other Websites Within the Genre

Another method I’ve found useful is to research some of the more popular websites within the genre that I’m developing in. For example, if I’m designing a website for a writer, I’ll look at websites for writers and make notes of my favorite elements. I;ll then incorporate those elements using my own styles, tweaking and making them my own.

Keep a Notebook

I like to keep screenshots and links to layouts the I find inspiring. That’s one of the benefits of Pinterest because of the ability to create your own boards. I also like to save links in a folder in my web browser. Another option is to keep a file of links in a document or use a tool such as EverNote.

Let’s Discuss

  • Do you use any of these methods for getting layout design ideas?
  • What other websites do you use?
  • What other methods do you use?
  • What’s your favorite way of saving the design ideas?

Let us know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading. Please subscribe if you haven’t already.

Image by Tamarcus Brown

Web Design Trends 2017 – Virtual Reality Integration

If you think about it, the web is actually a 2D alternate reality. The next obvious step is to shape it into a 3D virtual reality. VR headsets for smartphones are becoming popular, and both desktops and mobile devices have ways of displaying VR. It makes sense when you consider the advantages. For example, you could stand in a room you’re considering renting or buying, stand on a vacation spot to help make your decision of where to spend your vacation time, view a product and see it from all angles without having to be in the store, and so much more.

Here are some of the popular ways that VR is being incorporated into WordPress.

Google VR view

Google VR view is becoming popular and incorporating VR features into WordPress and apps. It let’s you embed 360 degree VR media for desktop and mobile devices. It supports mono and stereo images. Images can be stored as JPG, PNG, or GIF. Video can be stored as MP4.

Plugins

It’s still in its infancy but currently the easiest way to incorporate VR into your WordPress designs is by using a plugin. Here’s a look at a few plugins to add VR to your WordPress website.

WP-VR View

WP-VR-view is a free plugin in the WordPress depository that lets you add a photo sphere and 360 degree video to your WordPress website to create 3D panoramas that readers can navigate through. It includes lots of shortcodes for videos, images, preview, width and height, and stereo. It works in web browsers and on mobile devices including Google’s Cardboard.

Web VR Shop

Web VR Shop is a premium WordPress plugin for WooCommerce that allows you to add 3D models to your shop. Upload your 3D model and then scale, position, rotate, and change the background color with easy to use sliders to create a VR product gallery. It includes multiple 3D extensions. It works on desktop, mobile, Rift, Cardboard, and Vive.

Let’s Discuss

  • Do you use VR on your website?
  • What’s your favorite way to incorporate VR into WordPress?
  • What’s your favorite use of VR?

Let us know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading and please subscribe if you haven’t already.

Featured image by Samuel Zeller

Web Design Trends 2017 – Multi-purpose Themes

Multi-purpose themes have been around for a few years but they’re gaining in popularity due to their versatility. They’re relatively inexpensive and you can use them to create any layout you want using the included drag-and-drop theme builders to create modular designs. Many include multiple child themes to help you get started quickly and you can modify the layouts to create something unique without having to start from scratch every time. This saves a lot of time and greatly reduces the difficulty in creating new layouts because it doesn’t require coding skills. They can also be expanded further using code, shortcodes, CSS, etc. The design can be as complex or as simple as you want it.

A lot of designers/developers choose one or two to build from so they can build a library of layouts, plugins, etc., and save lots of time on each project because they’re familiar with how the theme works. Designers can create layouts and even share or sell them. Clients can choose from pre-made layouts which can save them money and get their website running faster, or they can choose to have the designer to create something unique just for them. The designer can use the same tools either way and the end result get’s the client exactly what they want.

Multi-purpose themes can simplify the initial layout work, but still require design and/or development skills to create something unique or to add unique elements to pre-made designs. They don’t take away the need or advantage of hiring a designer or developer. At the same time, they’re great tools to get started and may even have what you need out of the box. They are great tools for beginners as well as advanced designers and developers. Some of them even have a large community to help with ideas and solve problems. The communities include Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, forums, websites devoted to that specific theme, and marketplaces.

Another advantage in using multi-purpose themes is it’s easier to teach clients to use a theme that the designer is the most familiar with. This also reduces support and maintenance time. The client can use the theme just like any WordPress theme or they can use the special features such as pre-made blog post templates.

The most popular themes include:

This Website Uses a Multi-purpose Theme

For reference, this site was built with Divi. It uses a drag-and-drop system that makes it easy to create layouts quickly. It includes lots of pre-made pages to help you get started and you can buy professionally made child-themes in the marketplaces.

To create the site with Divi I created a page and placed my elements where I wanted them, created some dummy content, and tested the design. Once I decided on the final layout I use it to create the pages and post templates. The design you see now is the 5th version. Using the drag-and-drop elements it didn’t take that long to change my design. This layout can be recreated in just a few minutes with Divi. As you can guess, the hard part wasn’t building the layout – it was designing the layout.

Let’s Discuss

  • Do you use multi-purpose themes?
  • Do you prefer to use pre-made layouts and modify them as needed?
  • What are your favorite multi-purpose themes?

Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading and please subscribe if you haven’t already. 

Images used (except for the Divi Builder) are from the theme’s sales pages.