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Resourceful Designer podcast: Offering tips, tricks and advice for starting and growing your graphic or web design business.

Are you a print designer who wishes you knew how to design websites?

There are many graphic designers who don't offer web design services. Some have no desire to do so. While others would love to add web design to their list of skills. However, they feel intimidated by the notion of tackling a new medium. What they fail to realize is that although the usage between print design and website design is different, the design principles required to make both look good are the same.

At their core, the foundation principles that govern what is good design are the same regardless if you are designing for paper or screen.

I got into web design in the mid-90s when having a website was a novelty for most businesses. At that time I was offering something unique. Most websites in the early to mid-90s were built by computer programmers, and at the time, most computer programmers were not very adept at design.

My sales pitch was to ask clients if they wanted an ugly website with beautiful code, code that nobody sees. Or if they wanted a great looking website with not so perfect code but still functioned perfectly. Most clients sided with a good looking website.

As a web designer, I offered the aesthetics of good design. I took the skills I learned as a print designer and applied those skills to web design. And I do the same today.

If you are a print designer who would like to learn web design, the process is not as difficult as you may believe. Because of your design knowledge, you are already halfway there.

It's just like learning to drive a second vehicle

Think back to when you first learned to drive a car. There was an awful lot of information you needed to learn.

  • The rules of the road
  • Street sign meanings
  • When you're allowed to change or not change lanes.
  • How much distance to keep between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
  • Which vehicle has the right of way when multiple vehicles arrive at a four-way stop simultaneously.

These are just a handful of the many, many rules you needed to learn.

On top of the rules of the road, you also had to learn how to operate a vehicle.

  • The amount of pressure on the accelerator required to get the car moving.
  • The force required on the brake pedal in order to stop the car where you want it to stop.
  • How much you have to turn the steering wheel in order to direct the car around a curve or corner.
  • When during a turn do you start straightening the wheel in order to proceed in the desired direction.
  • Using your turn signals.
  • Looking in your mirrors.
  • Checking your blind spots.

and so on, and so on. When you think of every small aspect of learning to drive, there was an awful lot you needed to know.

Now, imagine as an experienced car driver, you want to learn how to drive a motorcycle.

You’re going to have a much easier time learning to drive a motorcycle than someone who is learning to drive for the very first time on a motorbike.

Why is that? It's because of the foundation you already know. The fundamentals, the principles of driving are the same whether you are driving a car or a motorcycle. The street signs are the same. The rules of the road are the same. You’re still going to use turn signals. You’re still going to check your blind spots. The accelerator and breaks on a motorbike are different than those on a car but your previous knowledge will help you get accustomed to them much faster.

If you already know how to drive a car, learning to drive a motorcycle is so much easier than if you didn’t know how to drive a car.

The same applies to a print designer learning web design.

The foundation of good design, the principals you follow on every print piece you create apply just the same on a web page.

  • You want to create a visual hierarchy,
  • You want to create a flow for the eye to follow.
  • You want to pair fonts that work well together.
  • You want to use colours, photos and other design elements that complement each other to create a visually pleasing layout.
  • etc. etc.

The principles of design are the same. What’s different are the tools you use and the medium you’re creating on.

Think back to when you first started as a print designer. Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign all seemed very daunting. But slowly, through experimenting and practice, you learned how to use them. It’s the same thing with web design only the tools are things like WordPress, Squarespace or Wix.

And I’m not talking about coding. There was a time when coding and web design went hand in hand, but that’s not the case anymore. There are plenty of web designers, making a good living designing websites for clients, who don’t know anything about code. And if for some reason you do end up needing code to accomplish something on a website, Uncle Google is always there to help you. It’s not that intimidating.

Just like learning to drive a motorcycle is so much easier if you already know how to drive a car because the same driving principles apply to both vehicles. Learning web design is so much easier if you already know the principles behind what makes good design.

Start off small, get a Wix or Squarespace account if WordPress intimidates you too much. Then once you get comfortable designing websites, branch out and give WordPress a try.

Themes or page builders like Elementor or my preference Divi are very intuitive and easy to learn and allow you to build amazing looking and functional websites without having to code.

You know what they say, anything is easy once you know how to do it. Well as far as web design goes, if you’re already a print designer, you’re more than halfway there. So don’t be afraid, give it a try, and before long, you’ll be adding web design to your list of design services.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

My Voice-Over Guy.

Resourceful Designer podcast intros are performed by the amazing Wayne Henderson of MediaVoiceOvers.com. Wayne is available to help you with any voice-over work you require.