One of the first things people notice when they visit a website is the overall layout.
Whether you’re aware or not, the chances of you staying on a well designed website is far higher than one which seems to look out of date and chaotic.
Carina Gerrelli, founder of Bibble Studio, works closely with businesses in order to attract local customers through beautifully designed websites and other creative advertising and promotions.
We’re no longer in an age of simply setting up a basic website with contact information and vague text. Web design plays a huge role in growing a following and creating brand awareness. I spoke with Carina to find out more about her journey into web design and what exactly goes in to this creatively dynamic job.
1. Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to design websites?
I’ve always been into design and was a bit of a techie. In ICT at school when we first got taught the basics of HTML and used Dreamweaver, I tried to make a website and thought I’d published it. When I think back, it looked awful. At college, I studied graphic design and used Photoshop and Illustrator so I was proud of what I had managed to achieve, but when I look at my college work it didn’t look professional at all. I studied creative advertising ay university where I was able to apply my graphic design knowledge and learnt other creative skills such as creative thinking and video editing. During and after university I did some advertising internships and I started a blog. I realised these internships didn’t appeal to me but I found myself watching YouTube videos on how to put together a Wordpress blog and how to change specific things. I also started watching coding videos so I could make better changes to the theme I was using. I found that I loved that more than the blog. That was my first insight into web design. So I decided that I would take a coding course and from there my web design has flourished.
2. What would you say are the benefits of designing for Wordpress?
Wordpress has so much functionality and you can do pretty much anything with it. I also think you can achieve something that looks really professional. There are numerous premium templates out there, which allows you to achieve something that looks great and unique (if you take the base and use your own code and initiative to change it) in a shorter space of time.
3. Are there any significant difference when it comes to designing a website for an individual compared to a business? Is the process any different?
I’d categorise it with business size. When you build for a local business you tend to deal with the owner and it’s very individual and personal and tailored to what they specifically want. This makes it easier for me because I’m dealing with one or two people only and they know what they want, or if they don’t, they are really appreciative of my ideas, because this is out of their league. They are good at what they do, and lack the skills in web design, like how I lack the skills in plumbing or hair dressing. When designing for a SME company you tend to deal with the head of marketing or people within marketing roles, which can make it difficult. I feel that they tend to want to impress someone above them, so I tend to go round in circles with one telling me one thing, then another saying something else, which can be frustrating at times.
4. What’s your favourite theme?
My favourite theme is Avada which is a premium theme. I have tried loads of different ones. But I actually have found that Avada has fewer faults and is very customisable. Whenever I buy a premium theme, I will always aim to make the finished product look nothing like the start product. I buy themes for either a particular functionality they have, or if they have some unique style features which I think could work really nicely for certain aspects of the website. I’ve found plenty of themes that look pretty on their demo, but when you buy it, they either aren’t user friendly - so your client probably wouldn’t be able to update it themselves (which for me is really important as my clients do want to be able to do it themselves), or you have to do a lot of work to make it look anything as good as the demo, which kind of defeats the object of buying it in the first place.
5. What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
Honestly it’s chasing people up for payments. People are always ‘too busy’ to pay what they owe. A more technical challenge would be when code won’t do what you want, or works amazingly on one browser, but looks awful on another.
6. What skills would you say are crucial to breaking into this line of work?
I honestly think the willingness to learn and better yourself along with a positive attitude is so important, because as you can imagine, this job gets frustrating at times. Sometimes bits of code just don’t work how you want it to work and you feel as though it’s impossible to find a solution. Skills wise, knowing the basics of HTML & CSS and knowing how to use Photoshop will serve you well. It depends as many web agencies either want you to be really good at graphic design (they don’t mind if you can’t code) or really good at coding. I personally think having an eye for design and knowledge of basic coding is the best. Both work hand in hand and as responsive web designs are the future, it’s important to have a level of understanding of the two.
7. What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in web design?
It’s so rewarding. So many people get to see your work as well due to it being online. You also have the flexibility of working for someone else or for yourself. You can also work anywhere in the world. There is plenty of web work to go round and websites are the future. Unless the internet disappears there is always a demand for web designers. This probably sounds like a weird thing to say, but when I speak to other web designers we all agree this is the best part of the job: When you spend ages trying to make something amazing happen with your code, it doesn’t seem like it will work. You sleep on it, then you wake up and you solve the mystery- it works and you have just made an incredible website.
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