WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A WEB DESIGNER IN 2015
An Interview with Jack Beezer, Corvidae Collective's in-house Web-Designer
by Victoria Donovan in Collaboration with Jack Beezer
Before diving into the digital communications field, I saw web designers as greater than human. Their sorcery controlled the Eighth Wonder of the World: The Internet. Their power all held within their God-given ability to communicate with the secret and complex world of .gifs and .jpegs and html. As far as understood, web designers could hack into the government's database of all things evil if they were just given enough time, enough coffee, and enough incentive.
I'm a much better per0son now (no, I'm not) because I met Jack (i.e. Web Designer Jack, Corvidae Collective's In-House Web Designer). I have learned web designers are mere mortals who walk among us. They drink iced mochas and love Tom Brady just as much (ok no, way more) than the next guy. But, if web designers aren't born with innate comprehension and control over all things Internet...then what does being a web designer actually entail? What does it really take to get to the point where you can call yourself a web designer today?
Here's what I found out after I sat down with Jack and grilled him on the current state of web design and his path as a web designer and developer. Also...I knew Jack was a self-made man...but I wanted to know specifically how he thought his lack of a formal computer science education impacted his job as a web designer. He even shared some great specific resources recommended to him by the Colorado tech community he used to build up his web-dev skill set.
My first question for you is how do you stay current and up-to-date in the tech world, which seems to be constantly changing so fast?
Web Designer Jack: Well, honestly I think the best way to stay current is just be aware of your surroundings. If you are going to do web design or development, you are most likely on your computer on the Internet for a decent amount of the week, just look around! Check out your competitors sites, see what they are up to. It can be as simple as Googling “web design trends”. Or if you are using CMS platforms like Wordpress, themes make it so easy to stay trendy! You get to play off of their already trendy design to make it yours, and make it something you can be proud of. It’s really great.
You mentioned its fairly easy to find resources to teach yourself web design and development. What resources did you use that you could recommend to others who want to learn?
Web Designer Jack: There are a ton of great programs out there. It really comes down to how much dedication you want to put into it. I really like code academy, which is a free program that you can sign up for and it takes you step by step into learning the basics of pretty much any language you are interested in. I really like that one. There are also more in depth courses that will cost you a little bit, such as Team Treehouse. But if you have the money its totally worth it, they have awesome tutorial videos and really walk you through it. Or it could be as easy as grabbing a cup of coffee at a Barnes & Noble and going the old fashion way, reading about it!
These days, theres also much more involved accelerator programs, that are more like classes. Design and development is a very in demand skill to have now a days with such a technology driven world. There are extended programs that last anywhere from 2-6 months that will basically take you from step one to a full stack developer in an incredibly fast and hands on approach. They also usually garnet you a job or internship straight out of completion. Super awesome for someone with time and money to dedicate to. SHOUT OUT TO FLETCHER RICHMAN AND IGNITION.
Do you regret not going to school for web design or computer science at this point in your career?
Web Designer Jack: Its hard to say. I do and I don’t. I think going to school would have helped a lot. However, I think that the hands on approach is much more important. Thats why I think the programs I described in my answer to your last question are great. They have the perfect mix of both. The thing about web development is that you can totally teach yourself how to do it if you have the drive to. It’s not necessary to have someone teach you with everything available on the Internet, but it definitely helps.
For aspiring young web designers or those trying to break into the field, what is some advice you have for them?
Web Designer Jack: I’d say don’t be intimidated by the stereotype and stigma around web development, [i.e. Web Sorcerer, see above]. It can definitely get very involved, but you don’t have to be a genius to figure it out. I’d also say take advantage of as many internships or you know, hack-a-thons or tech meets ups as you can because I guarantee that you’ll find somebody who is stoked that you want to learn more and will would be more than happy to show you a few things along the way. Most importantly, I’d say that Google is your best friend, if you have a question and little bit of time, I bet you’ll be able to get where you need to be.
Even if you decide you hate web design later on, getting these skills is only going to set you ahead in this tech driven world. Being a Jack of All Trades has never been more important. Making yourself versatile is not only personally beneficial but its going to be beneficial to your career and your desirability as an employee, especially in the startup world, but everywhere really.
Where do you see web design going in 2015? What trends should those in the start-up world be aware of?
Web Designer Jack: Alright, here is my forecast for 2015 Web Design Trends. I think we are going to see a lot of longer scrolling sites, mostly because of how popular mobile is getting in general. Scrolling sites also eliminate the need for so many links on the pages. We are going to see a lot of less is more as designers get rid of a lot of unnecessarily design aspects. Sites will be more organized and on more of a "need to know basis" content wise. I think we will see a lot more hidden menu kind of things, those are hot right now. This goes in hand with mobile trends. Regarding that, companies no longer have both a mobile site and a web friendly site. It has become unnecessary to make two sites. It's easy it is to design one that works for both web and mobile.
thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. i have One final question for you...a very super serious one. What is your favorite guilty pleasure Mobile app?
Web Designer Jack: Pop! Which is basically is a simple way to do app mock-ups. I do have to say though, it would have been the Starbucks app because I love Starbucks and they have a beautiful UI design….but they have TERRIBLE UX! I have to buy plastic real gift cards to use the app…whats the point? I expect more from a multi-billion dollar company.
There you have it...Web Designer Jack's take on what being a web designer means in 2015. Apparently it means a lot of hard work and a willingness to put yourself out there to learn. Weird...no sorcery seems to be involved whatsoever.