Getting started in web design and development

December 19, 2019 12:03
A survey has revealed that many businesses in Hong Kong still don't have proper websites, and that they rely on social media channels like Facebook to spread their message. Photo: GoDaddy

It would seem to be a given that a website has a critical role to play for any small business. A professional website is the keystone on which a company’s efforts – sales and marketing, brand building, showcasing value, telling the company story and engaging with customers and prospects – are centered.

Surprisingly, however, in business savvy Hong Kong, GoDaddy’s recent Global Entrepreneurship Survey found that 43 percent of respondents still do not have a website for their business. Many of these companies rely solely on social media channels like Facebook and Instagram to build their brand presence.

Some of the reasons offered by survey respondents for not having a website included: lack of time to design and build a website; not having the technical expertise on hand to build a website; and belief that creating a website is simply too expensive.

What may seem like a surprising untapped opportunity for Hong Kong’s small businesses, can also be an interesting opportunity for people considering web design and development as a career. While the prospect of learning web design may seem daunting to some, we believe it may be worth looking at the basic skills needed, and the broader career opportunities open to web designers and developers, before ruling it out.

The amount of information and options for learning web design and development can be overwhelming, especially when much of the information is geared towards more advanced designers and developers, which can be an obstacle for beginners. However, the web design and development sector includes an array of different skills, disciplines, tools and programs.

Web design and development basics

Simply defined, web design and development is the process of creating and managing an online presence on the internet for clients such as entrepreneurs and small business owners. Within the web design field are different areas of expertise that include: graphic design; user experience design; scripting; coding; content drafting; web server; network security configuration; information design; and search engine optimization (SEO).

Web design can range from creating a static website with plain text, images and links all the way up to complex web applications, content management systems, application programming interfaces (APIs), and social networking services.

Key skills to start

To help get started thinking of going into the Web Design and Development sector, you’ll want to learn how to build and style a basic website. For this you’ll need to learn both HTML and CSS, which are programming languages designers use to create parts of a web page and their visual styles. These are the basic building blocks of every website. Web browsers use HTML and CSS code to determine what users see on a website. HTML or Hypertext Markup Language, is the coding language used to describe the content on a web page and how it is structured.

Next, you’ll want to learn JavaScript, a programming language used to dynamically control web page content. JavaScript lets you make sites interactive. Web apps, interactive maps, scrolling images and dynamic video are all powered by JavaScript. It is a complex programming language with near-limitless potential yet beginning web developers should focus on learning the basics such as syntax, how variables work, conditional statements and functions.

A basic working knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript is helpful to get you started in web design and development. Mastering web design takes a blend of coding skills with some basic design savvy. Most new web designers start with a deep dive into CSS to learn more complex selectors and advanced layout techniques.

If you are considering a business as a web designer and developer, it is helpful to get comfortable with some of key skills described above. A basic understanding of essential web design and practice can help you get started as you begin your career. Soon you can be building your portfolio and looking for web design and development job opportunities.

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Regional President, GoDaddy