A creative spark in his boyhood propelled Ankush Dawar to be what he is today. “When I was in Class III or IV, my parents enrolled me for painting classes at Triveni [Kala Sangam]. I learnt painting for eight years. Whatever I am is because of my background in fine arts,” says Dawar, 29, who floated a website design agency in 2000, based in central Delhi.
A commerce student in high school, Dawar did his Bachelor’s in industrial
relations and personnel management at Delhi’s Dyal Singh College and, except for writing exams, seldom went to college. Instead, he used the time doing creative and technical courses at private institutes. He joined Triveni’s photography course “to become creatively sound”. Creativity matters more than educational certificates in this virtual world, though a salary survey suggests that degrees do pay well.
For the imaginative and competent, the options are many. From multinational corporations to film stars, from neighbourhood property dealers to NGOs, almost everyone now wants an online estate. The opportunity is “so big”, says Dawar, especially with the spread of cross-platform technology, e.g. websites now also need to be customised for mobile browsers.
A lot of big companies outsource web designing to freelancers. So, a designer can work from home as well. S/he can create his/her profile on certain websites to draw more orders. Dawar’s agency, with five employees at his home-cum-office premises, not only designs websites but also creates work for others, farming out jobs like content writing and web security. A web designer who wants the safety net of a job can work in advertising and graphic design agencies, e-learning companies and multi-media/animation firms. “The major consumption (for web designers) is in these,” says Tirth Raj Sah, founder of a web design house in south Delhi.
A web designer who is starting out should not become impatient even if s/he manages to get only a low-paying job, Sah suggests. That is just the stepping stone. A student might have done a course but there is nothing so important as on-the-job learning.
Sah stresses that aspirants need to learn Web 2.0 as 80-90 per cent of foreign companies outsourcing work to India require this capability.
What's it about?
Website designing has two aspects — creative and technical. The creative side involves visualisation and conceptualisation. The technical is about converting the layouts into HTML and giving effects with help of Java Script and AJAX. A web designer surfs the Internet to check out other websites or banks on his own creativity to make a template. Once the client approves the template, the technical work starts
9.30 am: Start work — browse the Internet to check the websites of the client’s competitors, make a template and show it to the boss for approval
1-1.30 pm: Lunch
1.30 pm: If the client does not like the design, redo it. If the delivery deadline is the same day, stay back in office till the work is over – whether by 9 pm, 10 pm or 4 am
Practitioners (who may not have a degree) say the average starting pay for web designers is about Rs 10,000 to 15,000 a month. However, the average starting average salary for web designers who are graduates is about Rs 2.5 lakh per annum. At the middle management level, it is around Rs 9 lakh a year for a graphic or web designer who has a team of three to five people and a Master’s degree. At the senior level, it averages around Rs 18 lakh a year for a creative director. For a graphic head, at GM/VP level, it can be much as Rs 27 lakh a year. With about 12 years’ experience, this person leads a team of more than 10
Oodles of imagination, willingness to experiment and learn
Ability to understand a brief clearly, come up with original creative solutions and bring them alive on the web
Team spirit, because most of the time, design is not a solitary journey
Ability to sit at the computer for long hours
An ego-less and fun-loving attitude
How do I get there?
After Class XII, you could join a web designing course available at many institutes. To become a designer, you need to learn about the web, HTML (HyperText Mark-up Language), PhotoShop, software like Dreamweaver and Flash, CSS (Cascading Style Sheet, for managing content formatting) and at least one programming language such as ASP, ASP.NET or PHP
Institutes & urls
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Gecko Academy of Digital Arts
South Delhi Polytechnic for Women
Websites like Lynda.com and w3schools.com provide learning resources online and/or on DVD
Pros & cons
n You get to learn the latest technology
n You update yourself by browsing the Internet
n Interesting, creative job
n Long hours, especially if the client wants a world-class site
n Low pay, as compared to software developers, for instance
India’s talent can go global
An industry insider on the potential in web designing
Ramesh Nair, 35, is founder and creative director of Niyati Technologies, a 10-year-old creative communications company with offices in Chennai, New Delhi and Dubai. Nair was earlier web project manager in a national digital firm and a copywriter in an ad agency.
What’s the scope in web designing in India today?
This is an area with multiple avenues. Developing and managing websites requires people with varied skill sets and experience. Developing and maintaining a website normally requires systems administrators who manage the servers and computer network; content developers who prepare or edit content; software programmers to code websites; graphic designers for user interface designs; animators to work on software like Macromedia Flash to develop engrossing animations that run on websites; and quality control specialists to check the website to satisfy various quality parameters like browser or system compatibility, technology issues, link errors, load testing, etc. Plus, online marketing professionals ensure that a site gets better visibility on search engines.
Challenges in this field?
The primary challenge for firms has always been in finding the right creative people.