We have been having some great discussions with our WD community lately, one of which has to do with the question of can anyone learn to be a web designer? I have to admit that this is a very difficult question which I hope to answer in this post.
How do you define designer?
There are many types of designers — interior designers, graphic designers, website designers, clothing designers, and so on. Each will have their own set of skills or disciplines that they must learn, as well as possible requirements for credibility. For the sake of this conversation I will talk specifically about graphic or web design.
Is being a designer a gift or a learnable skill?
I believe that most people can learn the techniques of an artist or designer. Betty Edwards demonstrated how she discovered a way to teach “non-artists” to draw in her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I also know that we can teach students the mechanics of Photoshop and how to create fantastic design elements such as graphical headers or buttons for the web. However, having the “designer’s eye” or becoming a top-notch designer is not something that can be learned by most … I think you are either born with this ability or you are not.
Should I just give up?
Absolutely not! Just because you may never be a top-notch designer doesn’t mean you should quit. If you can learn some of the design basics and theory, you can do well. You could also work with designers to improve your idea or help you where you are weak (and you could possibly be a strength and help them where they are weak).
Can YOU be a web designer?
I think many people can be a web designer without being born a natural artist, but you must recognize and understand that you may never be the best at what you do. I have seen non-designers make a really good income from their web design business (and ironically really great designers struggle). My encouragement to you is to just try it and see. Once you’ve knocked out a couple of projects, seek counsel from a reputable and professional designer to get their feedback. Maybe you have a hidden ability you never knew existed or you might improve dramatically with the right teacher or instruction. Either way you have to find out for yourself. Happy designing!