Going from Print Design to Web Design – My Learning Story


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Early in my career I worked as a graphic designer for an advertising agency. I mostly designed brochures and sales flyers but on one project we discussed building a website to get leads.

After I had the design ready we met with the development team to discuss the project. Half way through the meeting I presented an idea on how something could function.

The developers didn’t even look up at me and just stared at their laptops.

Did I say something wrong? Or did I just not get it?

It was from that day on that I knew if I really wanted to design websites I also had to know how they worked.

Otherwise I would just keep frustrating the developers I worked with and end up wondering why the finished website did not match my design in Photoshop.

Since I already used Adobe Photoshop I followed this tutorial series by Chris Coyier of css-tricks.com. After following this workflow on a few personal projects I gained the confidence and portfolio examples to try and look for a position that had more of a development focus.

After a few months of searching, I finally was offered a job as a front-end web designer where I worked with a small team to design and build a website for people who enjoyed poetry.

But the first day on the job panic set in… I was overwhelmed with new terms and technologies I had never heard of before. Things like SVN version control, PHP, Zend Framework, and the command line?

I thought I was going to be exposed as an imposter and get fired. But instead, my boss and coworkers helped me and pushed me to learn.

My frantic pace of google searches and stack overflow posts lessened over time as I started to gain confidence. But even to this day I still learn as a I go. It’s impossible to consume a book or documentation and expect to retain it all. For me, the repetition of common tasks is what helps you remember the most important parts. When you get stuck, you have to be able to work through it and find training or reference material.

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Written by: Jacob Lett
Category: Articles
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