Exploring Web Design

I recently graduated from college with a degree in graphic design. Let's just say, I went to a more traditional school that didn't really dig into the field of web design. I'm finding it is hard to find work as simply a graphic designer and would like to gain more experience in web design. I've looked into several tutorials and reading materials but would really like some real life help and advice.

Anyone have any ideas or opportunities?


It's not a huge leap, people do it all the time with varying levels of success. I personally like the perspective some print designers bring to the web. They tend to be more savvy with use of textures, photos, subtle details, etc.

You're adding in user experience on top of your design background and that can take some time to get experience with. You have to consider how your design is going to react to user interaction and also know the limits of the technologies involved. You can use a lot of what you probably already know about using contrasting colors, shapes, font-sizes, etc. to create a visual hierarchy to lead a user through your site, but it will just be more involved because the user is doing more than just passing by a poster.

Canvas size:
You also have to consider that the canvas size isn't always the same since people will be viewing your site on different devices with different resolutions. So you have to decide if you want to design a 1 size fits all, a responsive design that adjusts to the device or separate designs for each device. It can get a little involved when you toss in all the variables of browsers, screen resolutions, mouse/touch, etc. It's still very common to just use a set width of 960px or so no worries but that will change in the next few years as more designers/developers learn how to create responsive designs and mobile devices become even more common.

Another thing to know is that "generally" fonts used on the web(that are not part of an image) need to be a common font that the user has on their computer. Until recently, that pretty much meant that you had to use a native MS Windows or MS Office font. Some common web fonts would be Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Georgia, Times New Roman, etc.
I said "generally" because in the last few years services like typekit.com or fontdeck.com have figured out how to serve up fonts in a secure way as to keep the font foundries happy and that means you can start using more fonts that you could not before but there is usually an additional cost. So check with whoever is going to be building your site when you are choosing fonts so you'll know what your best options are.
There is also the option to just make all your text in to images but this is bad practice as it takes longer to load, harder to update if you need to change it, is less accessible, users can't highlight/copy the text, and it's bad for search engines and therefore SEO.

Image size is also something to consider since any image used has to be downloaded by the users. Sure download speeds have gotten much faster over the years but now we have to consider mobile devices that aren't always on wifi so they have much slower download speeds.

And to wrap up my ramblings...
A good starting point would be to learn the constraints of what you're working with and what can and can't be done with the medium. I'm not saying you should learn to code as that's not a quick task, but you should understand what is possible. If you are pretty internet savvy you probably already have a decent understanding just from using countless websites over the years.

Hopefully some of this is what you had in mind. It can cover a pretty broad range and certain aspects are careers on their own like UX or SEO.


I'm in the exact same position! My school taught us *some* web design/flash but I don't feel like it's enough. Anyhow, as I'm sure you're well aware that you need an online portfolio and Gary pointed out some great pointers about fonts and canvas sizes. You want to make sure someone who's looking on it on their phone will get the same essentials as if they were looking at it on their computer.

Best thing to do for your portfolio that I'm constantly doing is simply googling "awesome design portfolios" and just seeing what other people are doing and figuring out why they're considered "awesome". Interacting with other people's websites will help you understand what to do and not do in YOUR site. Don't be the guy who criticizes other sites but yours sucks just as equally.

But if you're wanting to look for work in the meantime with print stuff, look at everything that's designed on paper and seek job opportunities in it. For example: catalogs, book design, magazines, designing marketing stuff like brochures, food labels, clothes labels, the list goes on and on. Needless to say, there's still a lot of print design going on in our world! But it's still good to be a well rounded designer and learn all the other stuff. Good luck graduate!

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