Jordan Klassen is a web designer for J. Klassen Inc., a Vancouver BC Web Design and Development company. He has been designing and developing websites for over 10 years, working on 250+ websites. He has his BBA from the University of Toronto.
Contact / Follow Up
If you are filling in a questionnaire from these answers, feel free to slot my answers in for your questions, even if they aren't an exact match, or edit them down to the most relevant part for your particular question. Also, feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions. Finally, please send me a copy of the filled in questions you used, so I can stand behind my answers if followed up with and so that I can make this list better.
Answers for Aspiring Web Designers
Answers to common questions I receive from aspiring web designers looking to interview an experienced web designer / developer.
I frequently get sent lists of questions by aspiring web designers, trying to determine whether this career is right for them, what school to go to, or simply as part of qualifying for government funds for their training. I haven't been able to answer as many of these questionnaires as I'd like to, or with as much detail as I'd like to, so instead I'm providing answers to the most frequent questions here.
Name: Jordan Klassen
Job Title: Web Designer / Developer
Company: J. Klassen Inc.
Location / Contact Information: See contact page.
Hours of Work: Full time, freelance, usually between 9 and 6pm Monday to Friday
Years in Industry / Role: Since 1997
Best Parts / Biggest Challenges
Best Parts of Job:
- Creative work
- Tangible results (My work helps organizations reduce costs, increase efficiency and bring in new business)
- Tangible output (I can show people what I do, what I've done)
- Flexible hours
- All the vacation time I can afford
- Reasonably well paying, opportunities for growth
- Sitting in front of a computer most of the day
- Working from home limits human interactions
- Need to be self-motivated and self-disciplined
Skills / Training / Aptitudes
What type of people do well in this occupation?
Those that combine a good visual sense with strong analytical and logical skills. Must be detail oriented, and have good verbal and written communication skills.
What training or certification is necessary?
No degrees, diplomas or certifications are necessary. The most important thing is to have the right skills and a strong portfolio of websites for actual organizations, ideally that are live and in use. If a school helps provide motivation or a framework great, but it's not required and not enough. It's all about what you put into it.
Are there any specific schools or training programs you'd recommend?
I don't know enough about the schools in Vancouver to recommend any of them. I have no formal training and my experience when originally looking at schools (in the Toronto area) was that they didn't make you industry-ready and were frankly no more helpful than self-study and practice. When I worked at a firm that hired out of the Toronto-area schools, only about 10% of the graduating class had the skills necessary to work in the industry immediately.
What specific skills are necessary for this occupation?
All areas of the industry require strong verbal and written communications skills. Different specific roles have different requirements:
- Design: photoshop, maybe flash / illustrator, good design sense
Are there any professional organizations that you are a member or you suggest I join?
How do employers typically recruit for this occupation?
- Their own websites
- Online job boards (craigslist, monster)
- Their network of contacts (both real world networks and facebook, twitter)
What are the typical duties and responsibilities for people in this occupation?
Design, coding, client and staff written and verbal communication, quoting projects.
In what sort of arrangement are people typically hired?
It can range from part-time to full-time hours. It can be freelance, contract or permanent.
What is the general salary range for people working in this occupation?
Starting salaries are probably around $30K if you get a full time job, depending on your location. After 5 years, maybe 45-80K. Very senior people can earn upwards of $80-150K.
Are people employed in this field required to bring any special equipment to the job?
Not usually. Though depending on your employment arrangement, you may be required to have your own computer or software.
Can you describe the working conditions?
Usually in an office, home office or coffee shop at a desk, in front of a computer, ideally with a very big screen.
Travel, Re-location and Working Remotely
Would you ever contract parts of a web building project to out of town Web Designers if you were impressed with their work portfolio?
Does this occupation have a great deal of travel associated with it?
No. Most work can be done remotely. I have long time clients I haven't met nor even spoken on the phone with. Clients typically look for local web designers so travel usually isn't necessary.
Do you think it would be necessary to relocate in order to find employment in this field?
Web Designers are needed in most places and are also often able to work remotely, so relocation isn't usually necessary.
Present and Foreseeable Demand, Industry Changes
What is demand like for work in this occupation?
Good opportunities for those with solid portfolios and the skills above. Weaker opportunities for true beginners.
What do you think demand will be like in the future?
Organizations will always need websites and will continue to do more on the web, especially as the web expands to mobile devices. Template driven websites or build-your-own websites will likely continue to fall short of what most businesses need. As organizations grow or change and the technologies and usage patterns change overtime, these sites will need to be re-designed, or expanded.
How is the current economy affecting this industry?
I'm as busy as ever.
How many employees are in your organization? How many new employees have you hired for this position in the last year?
It's just me right now, but will likely hire 1-3 in the next year or two.
What changes do you foresee as being the most dramatic in this field in the next several years?
More focus on mobile devices and thus not just designing for computer screens. This will probably mean multiple versions of the website. Social network integration (twitter, facebook, YouTube) will continue to expand. Offshore outsourcers may get better.
Do you have any advice for someone entering this field?
Build a strong portfolio. It's all about the amount of effort and time you put in. Simply graduating from a web design program is not nearly enough. Design in photoshop, code by hand (no visual editors), repeat.
Can you recommend anyone else for me to contact?
No, but take a look at the results from A List Apart's Annual Survey of web designers
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