Inside Envato, Web Design

Web Designer Day 2020: Tips From Envato’s UX and UI Designers

We rounded up some of Envato's most talented UX and UI designers to share their best tips, advice and web design words of wisdom...

Portrait for Kelsie Rimmer By Kelsie Rimmer
Posted 27 May 2020
Web Designer Day - Web Design Tips

Web Designer Day 2020 is almost here! And while it may sound kerny, we just HAD to celebrate all the creative cookies out there who keep our websites looking fresh.

With the rising popularity of self-serve website builders such as Elementor and Wordpress Gutenberg – not to mention Envato’s Template Kits – nowadays, even the least tech-savvy or design-minded person can throw together a professional website in no time. But, creating a perfect website from scratch isn’t easy – it’s all thanks to the talented web designers behind the scenes! 

Although still a relatively new speciality compared to graphic design, website design is an intricate skill that can take a lifetime to master. A discipline that is equal parts nailing visual direction, improving user experience, and optimising website functionality, web designers are the true MVPs when it comes to creating an effective, compelling and seamless online experience.

So whether you’re new to the web design industry, considering a career change or simply just looking for some inspo, we’ve rounded up some our UX and UI designers at Envato to share their best tips, advice and web-design words of wisdom...

Sean Feehan

 Envato UI Designer

Sean Feehan - Web Design Tips

How did you get into web design?

I’ve alway enjoyed keeping up with digital trends and expressing one’s designs in new and innovative ways. There are so many incredible digital products that help people get things done in their everyday lives that are a delight to use. And I wanted to get in on the action.

What’s the biggest learning you’ve had as a web designer?

Trust your process. Define what problem you are trying to solve, and why it is important. And find out how you can measure the success or failure of your designs! This will help you learn, iterate and build your case on why your designs are effective at solving your problem.

What are the top trends you’ve been seeing online?

Neumorphism seems to be all the rage this year, however I’m yet to see any products pull this off in an effective and accessible way. I’m not big on trends, but I believe Minimalism will always be relevant in the digital design space. The more we overcomplicate our interfaces, the more users will struggle to use our products.

What are your favorite digital tools?

Figma is my favorite tool at the moment. The collaboration and commenting features are incredible for co-designing and have really improved the efficiency of my workflow. Especially as we are all shifting to a more remote way of working.

Lookback is my second favourite tool at the moment. This program allows us to conduct remote usability testing on people’s mobile devices to improve our product, Milkshake – an app that allows users to create fun, simple websites from their mobile.

Top tips for getting into the industry?

Don’t get too attached to any one program or design tool. In my relatively short time as a digital designer, the primary program has shifted from Photoshop to Sketch, and now Figma.

Don’t get complacent. The digital landscape is always evolving so embrace change and be open to learning new skills.

What are your words of wisdom for doing things differently?

It’s much easier to find people with the right technical skills, than it is to find people that are enjoyable to work with. I will sacrifice technical skills over good people any day of the week.

So invest just as much time in building relationships and being someone people want to collaborate with, as you do with your technical skills.

Holly Oxley

Envato UX Designer

Holly Oxley - Web Design Tips

What made you want to become a web designer?

I started off in branding and I found that the sky had a limit. I had always been interested in web design so I asked my boss at the time if I could teach myself how to build websites with Wordpress (I was pretty confident with the design side of it already). 

I then realised that there was no method to the process of designing websites for people, no time for thought on how or why decisions were made, and I despised that. This frustration inspired my decision to get into UX Design.

What’s your advice on what not to do?

Don’t forget to design for every device. It’s easy to forget, but imperative the experience is great universally. 

What’s trending in web design right now?

I think illustration and animation will continue to dominate web design in 2020. I’ve also noticed more and more products are using guided experiences to educate people on updates to their products. It’s so effective. For example Slack just did this for their recent feature updates.

What are the top tools in your digital toolkit?

Figma, Illustrator, Photoshop, Typeform, Optimal Workshop, Ethnio, Crazy Egg, and Google Analytics.

What’s your advice for getting into the web design industry?

Firstly, when it comes to UX, it's good to know that clearly documenting your process is more important than the final product.

Secondly, seek out your dream workplace and contact the hiring team. Be visible and show that you really want it. Then you're sure to stand out.

Finally, I would engage with Meetups (they’re currently happening virtually.) I would be networking, presenting and putting this activity on my CV and Linkedin profile.

Words of wisdom for others wanting to become a web designer?

If you’re looking for a career change it’s so valuable to get some experience, reach out to a designer, ask to shadow them for a few days or a week. This will help you determine the learning curve and give you some confidence to take the plunge. Ideally that person becomes your mentor throughout your career.

If you’re fresh to the industry, I would recommend studying but seek out hands-on courses. I find I learn the most through trial and error in practical learning environments. Finally, do the research before diving into a Degree, they aren't always the best option for this fast paced industry.

Tahlia Giannopoulas

Envato UX Designer

Tahlia Giannopoulas - Web Design Tips

What inspired you to get into web design?

I was inspired to go into web design (specifically user experience) whilst working in customer service. Speaking to customers every day as well studying graphic design helped me identify opportunities to improve the company website. I loved the idea of using creativity and analytical thinking to solve complex problems which led me down the path of user experience design.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about being a web designer?

I was testing a design for the Envato Blog with a participant. The participant I tested with just happened to understand the concept entirely as if we designed it together. When I spoke to another colleague about it, she mentioned that myself and the participant were quite similar people so it wasn’t a coincidence that she happened to like the design.

From this, I learned that often we unconsciously design for ourselves and think it makes sense. I realised it was important to test with people from varying backgrounds, cultures and ages to really understand how effective your designs are and where the areas for improvement lie.

What trends do you think are having the biggest impact on web design in 2020?

Brutalist or anti-design is definitely a big one. I love the idea of breaking cliche design rules with purpose. I have also seen a lot more websites taking an editorial approach using large typography and overlapping imagery as well as illustration and statement animations.

What are your go-to tools, programs and techniques?

Paper and pen will always be the starting point to any project. I find that starting on paper helps me focus on solving the right problems at the start of the project. It also prevents me from getting stuck on design details.

Figma is my go-to tool. Being able to collaborate with my team members online, in real time, all on the same file is amazing. I honestly can’t remember how we worked before Figma.

Using a plugin can help you identify design or CSS properties on a page. It will help you understand more about the layout of the page and it's also good for when you come across a new font you want to identify.

Any advice for other aspiring web designers out there?

When I was first learning about website design, I would often find websites I liked and try to recreate the wireframes or designs of them. This helped me understand the different components and pages that create a website experience. 

When you find great websites, save or screenshot them and document the parts of the website you like. Sometimes it’s something as small as the interaction on the input field, to something larger like the layout of a web page. As you identify interactions and styles you like, you’ll naturally build up a library and start incorporating them in your work.

In a sea of talented digital designers, how do you stand out from the crowd?

Step away from your screen for inspiration. Whilst the internet is an endless source of inspiration, I find the best ideas come to me whilst enjoying creative hobbies outside of my mobile and computer.

Feeling inspired to get into web design? Check out these great free web design courses and tutorials!

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