8 Skills Every Web Design Expert Should Have

8 Skills Every Web Design Expert Should Have

Written by Jason

6 min read

When planning a client's website, there are a few processes that eastside Co go through to make sure that we get the best possible result. Web design is one of the principle stages of a website or ecommerce store build. Many people already realise that quality web design will make their store look fantastic. However what they do not know is that a web design expert will also plan every aspect of your site from functionality to payment. The result? A user-friendly, attractive ecommerce store that will help you generate those all-important sales. There is much more to it than just making a pretty PSD as our in-house designer, Emma, explains...

It is a common misconception that a web designer is just there to create mood boards, graphics and to place images in the right spaces of the site. Actually, the job of a web design expert is to plan every little detail of your ecommerce store to make it all works in sync. By liaising closely with a team of web developers, a designer can lead a project and take it through to its final stages. Therefore when picking a web design expert it is important to consider what skills that person or company possesses. Here are 8 key skills that I believe every web design expert should have:

Design Theory

Web design is less creative than you may believe, it is actually more like a science. There is a reason that so many websites follow a similar formula when it comes to placement such as menus, look books and contact links. Users have learnt to use the web in a certain way and if you divert too much from this formula then the usability of a site will decrease. Here are some of the core basics which a web design expert will instinctively be able to pin point whilst assessing or redesigning a store.

  • Spacing
  • Proportion and Balance
  • Contrast and Colour
  • Flow
  • Layout

These basics work together to create an eye-pleasing result. If any of these factors are “off” in any way then it may leave the user with a negative experience. Get them right, and your design will still be effective even if it is basic. There are some more advanced design theories that a web design expert will also have the knowledge to utilise such as:

  • Fonts
  • Custom images (more details below)
  • Stylistic web designs
  • How these design theories work best together

Photoshop Skills

You can make an effective (but extremely boring ecommerce store) without using PhotoShop. However in this competitive market, where ecommerce stores are heavily judged upon looks, you must invest in an web design expert who has a great feel for using PhotoShop. Professional looking sites always have custom graphics such as logos, banners and product photography that has been enhanced by an web design expert. It gives the store a very custom, slick and well put-together appearance that can only be achieved by using photo editing software. A good web designer should know their clone stamp from their liquify tool and everything in-between. Make sure you take a close look at the portfolio of the web design expert to see their previous projects and assess how well-designed you think they are.

If you would like to look at the Shopify Builder portfolio you can here.

Captivating Content

A website designer must be able to use words that captivate an audience. Writing and editing copy and making sure it is put in the “right places,” is of upmost importance when generating sales. Your ecommerce store is your virtual shop window. Stunning design will attract the customers to it, however it will be the copy that leads them to the front door and makes the sale. For instance, there is no point offering “Free UK Delivery” if your potential customers cannot see this clearly whilst shopping. A clever web designer will plan these little details which could make all the difference to your conversion rate. Here are a few other reasons why content planning is also of key importance to web design:

  • Images and words are of equal importance when it comes to building effective branding. A customer should be able to look at your front page and understand who your brand is, what you are offering and why you are the best option. Although you can write your own copy on your “about us” page, some of this information will need to be integrated with images and design too.

  • Words are vital for usability. Designers usually refer to these as “call to actions.” Whenever you visit a website you are being subconsciously directed on where to go (or where to click.) Although icons can work in some cases, words are more effective in general. They have been proven to keep visitors on the site longer and clicking in the right places!

  • Search Engine Optimization is also another critical factor when it comes to content.As clever as the Google bot is, it still cannot read images very effectively. Therefore it is important that a web designer leaves space for content too. Full page images may look snazzy (and be your dream website) but this could affect your SEO efforts. A web design expert will have thought and discussed with you about your goals for your ecommerce store. If you are reliant on being found through search engines then an expert would advise you to compromise and put a design in place that allows more space for content. That is, if they are a good communicator….which brings me to my next point…

Be a Great Communicator

A web designer is normally the first person that a client will liaise with to discuss the project. Therefore they need to be a fantastic communicator and listener. A web design expert will have to establish exactly what the client wants from the website. This includes superficial design and branding, to the deepest and most complex functionality. This can be challenging, especially if the site owner is not very tech-savvy (well, that is why they are paying an expert!) or is confused about their final vision of the store. A great ecommerce store is designed to hit certain goals for the client. It must set out the brand identity, advertise the most poignant products and convert customers. If the web designer does not manage to get a fantastic insight into the company from a client then the website is set to fail from the get-go. An expert web designer will ask probing questions to get the most information from a client they possibly can, assess their goals and act accordingly.

Problem Solving

Even if a web designer has communicated extremely well with a client, there can be a few hiccups along the way. Sometimes a client’s vision is strong in their head but they find it hard to communicate exactly what they want. Therefore an expert web designer may find adjustments need to be made to the design of the site. Patience and problem solving are a key element that must be maintained. The relationship with the client may not be the only issue for a web design expert. Other problems such as functionality, browser issues, integration and maintenance issues are also common. An expert will have the ability to look at a problem from multiple angles at the same time and come up with a string of solutions.

Move With The Times

Web design is a constantly evolving industry where developments are always being made. Therefore it is important that your chosen web design expert is up-to-date with the latest news and trends of the industry. A great web design expert should show that they:

  • Take time to read new published literature on the industry.
  • Be subscribed to blogs and feeds from their most trusted sources.
  • Have a good network of people that are connected in the industry.
  • Not always believe they know the answer to everything.
  • They must be prepared to learn on the job.


Although HTML and CSS is more in the realms of a web developer. A web design expert must also have a solid understanding of coding and developing. The main reason is that they must know what is, and what is not possible in terms of functionality. Different hosts may have different requirements. For example, some aspects of design need to be handled differently on the Shopify and Magento platforms.

A web design expert will be knowledgeable across the board and be adaptable to avoid design mistakes and launch delays.

Business Sense

Designing e commerce stores is different (and more complex) compared to informative websites. There may be important business decisions that need to be made such as payment gateways, setting up products reviews, marketing, discount codes and many more.A web design expert could be responsible in affecting the success of a client's business and therefore should have great business sense and intuitively know a customer's needs. If you are looking for a web design expert then why not contact Shopify Builder about your website or ecommerce project?

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