Web Development & Design

In the digital era that is the 21st Century,there isn't much that can’t be found by searching the Internet. 

Looking for a new car? Want to find local day spas that offer couples’ massages? All that one has to do is get online and plug specific keywords into any search engine, and results quickly will be produced.

But from where does all of that information come? That fancy website listing all of the local salons in your area? How about that website for your favorite sports team? Who made them?

The answer is a web designer/developer.

Web designers are responsible for the design and maintenance of websites they've created. Designers are skilled in a programming language known as HTML, and are able to use web-building software such as Adobe Dreamweaver, WordPress, Adobe InDesign and various photo-editing programs.

“Anyone can throw together a website nowadays using programs that basically write the code for you,” said Mike Solito, co-owner/operator of Higher Expectations Designs of Pittsburgh, Pa. “But those websites are usually poorly done and are not going to attract anyone to your page. For that, you need someone who is skilled in web design, interactive media, social media and marketing.”

Solito, who is a naturally-creative person, said web design and development has been an excellent outlet for his creative juices. He always has been fascinated with technology, and said web design provided him an outlet to indulge his creativity and his obsession with technology while making money in the process.

Education Requirements

So how does one become a web developer? There are a variety of degree levels available for those who wish to study web design and development.

The basics of web design are taught in most associate degree programs at both traditional campus settings and through online schools. Associate degrees will help students prepare for most entry-level jobs in webdesign and development by teaching the basics of HTML coding, visual and artistic design concepts, scripting, database applications and management and audio/video for the web.

A bachelor degree program will be more intense and includes training in all of the Adobe Suite applications, which includes InDesign, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator and other CSS tools.

Solito said he originally started out with the intention of earning an associate degree in web design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Halfway through his first year, he decided he would need the advanced knowledge that would be provided in a bachelor degree program to accomplish his goals in web design and development.

“I wanted to learn everything there is to know,” he said.“The bachelor program was more in-depth and included courses on marketing and social media that wasn't part of the associate program. I believe those are important skills if you want to be successful in web development.”

Solito said he highly recommends the bachelor program because of the advanced coursework. In his bachelor program at the Community College of Allegheny County, he learned about marketing and advertising the websites he creates for clients. “My advice to anyone considering this career is to make sure you learn as much as you can about marking and advertising. You can design the nicest website out there, but if you don’t know how to get the word out about it and direct traffic to the site, it won’t mean a thing.”

Bachelor degree programs also will provide students with the opportunity to network and build a portfolio. Solito started his current business with another student he met at CCAC. He now develops and designs websites, and his partner writes and maintains the content. That is a connection he said he would likely not have made under other circumstances.

Future Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for web developers is expected to increase by 22 percent over the next 10 years,which is faster than the average growth rate for all other occupations.

The average annual salary for web designers was $75,660 as of May 2010. The top 10 percent of workers in the industry were earning over $120,000.

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