What is a Web Designer?

What does a web designer do exactly? A web designer is someone that has many hats throughout the whole website development process.

They begin by taking the notes that they (or the sales person) has collected from the discovery meeting – if you’re hiring someone you want the designer there, NOT the sales person. Trust me on this one – so much information gets lost playing telephone from the liason to the designer it’s not even funny. And from those notes the designer’s job is to take the style and essence of the company and develop a style for the website itself. But before colors, fonts, and styles can come into play, they must first create a wireframe.

A wireframe is literally a sketch of what your site could be. It involves a lot of rough sketches, boxes, blocks of squiggly lines, and so on. It’s meant to be a really rough layout. The whole idea is to develop a preliminary concept of what the site’s structure will look like. The header goes here, does the site have a hero image? Yes? OK it goes here. Does the blog section need to have callouts? Do those call outs need to have buttons? If so what will those look like. What about cards? What about the footer? Does the client have an email list? All those questions get mapped out in a wireframe. When the client approves it – basically just agreeing that all the bases are covered, then the designer begins to flush out what are called mockups.

Mockups are where the site’s style guide is developed. The fonts, the icons, the headlines, the subheaders, the text, the important text, blockquotes, footnotes, product text, spec text, all the different kind of text, are given individual styles and the site begins to come to life. Usually a designer will create 2-3 mock ups depending (usually) on the size of the budget and how many options the client is comfortable with.

Then revision rounds take place. As the client, feel free to mark those designs up with a massive red pen. This is your money, your site, tear those suckers apart. Then the designer will go back in and make those revisions and submit another round of mockups, or the final, for client approval.

Once a client agrees with the mockup the site is then turned over to the developer to be broken down into code, or placed into an existing Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal.

The designer isn’t out of it yet – there *will* be something that comes up as the developer does their part and adds in content from the client to the site. Something will require special attention and it is their job to use the styles they created to make something that seamlessly fits in with what has already been approved.