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Designing a Career in the Web Industry

by Luke Lehane

Posted on 3 August 2015

As I type this, I'm about six weeks into my new job at IO42 and my first venture into the web design and development industry. At 29 years old, I've been vaguely into web design for a very long time but have never gained the confidence to move it to a professional level. Instead I have been in and out of video game customer service jobs and enjoying the ever-changing environment which that industry brings. I always knew, however, that the web was what I passionate about and where I wanted to be.

The way I landed this job probably serves as a motivational story to any would-be web guy or gal stuck in the land of endlessly submitting applications on job sites only to hear nothing back from anyone ever. Instead, I searched for local design businesses and emailed a few that I thought appeared personal and interesting. To my surprise, Robert Hyde of IO42 replied to my email and so started a string of emails and a few interviews that eventually led to me gaining a (three month trial!) position at this exciting, small but growing, company.

I've settled in under the watchful eye of supreme master awesome designer Simon Trimmer to a role that I wasn't even sure existed before I started. To me, the term 'web design' had always been synonymous with learning and mastering the arcane wizardry that is HTML, CSS, Javascript and similar technologies. In my mind, I skipped past how important 'design' actually is for websites. Simon is essentially a graphic designer utilising Photoshop to create beautiful things. Bringing this kind of skill to the web is so important, especially in the days of user friendly content management systems such as WordPress. Anyone can build a website, but not everyone can design a great website. You need a designer for that. So that's what I'm doing - using my creative side to mock up website designs in Photoshop and using my eye for design and also my knowledge of website development to design something that can be easily passed over to the equally wonderful world of web development, ready to be built into a fully-functioning website for a happy client.

While I would very much like to keep up a healthy interest in the coding side of things, being able to focus on the pure design of a website is a great thing. A great design is such an important foundation. You wouldn't get a builder starting work on a building without any architectural plans. That's what I had always been doing in the past when trying to build websites. And it's hard to see your end goal when you've got a mass of HTML tags and CSS styles to play with. Design is a large and integral step on the way to creating a great website with a great user experience that feels complete and part of a whole.

At IO42, I've got the opportunity to further my understanding of both the design and development areas in an exciting industry that is always changing and always presenting new challenges. For the past few weeks, I've been having a great time learning valuable lessons in Photoshop, debating the validity of responsive design, watching the algae in the office fish tank evolve into a new life form and discussing whether avocado really does have a place in a bacon sandwich.

Long may it continue.


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