Welcome to My Web Design Haven

This blog was about my studies in Web Design. I’ll wrote about my journey to a new skill. I have now gratuated. What I do with this blog, is still unsure. Still enjoy your stay.

Featured post

A journey to the unknown

What I’m doing now.

In my world

open road Made in Canva

A journey doesn’t only mean travelling to another city or country. It can also mean a journey to a new life situation or in my case, learning a new skill. It’s not coddiwomple for me because I don’t really know where this road is going. Graphic design is not a new journey for me because I studied it before. But it was such a long time ago so things have changed. I haven’t worked in this industry so this is new to me. I don’t really know how it works. In every school, there are different teachers who have different learning styles. In Helsinki Design School, the people who educate us, have seen the real world in graphic design. Professional teachers don’t have the same experiences as they do.

After learning web design, graphic design seemed to be the next step I wanted to take. One…

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The talisman in design jobs

Merchandise
Graphic Design studying on the way in August

Hello again. Missed me? It’s been a while since I posted here. So how is it going, you might think. Well, when it comes to finding work, it’s non-existence. Maybe I should have some kind of talisman, a good luck charm to get anything. Getting a job in any occupation is difficult. The truth is, there’s always someone who won’t get hired. There are more job seekers then there are jobs. In design, the competition is even harder. There’s so many of them and different kind. I wonder how there are enough of clients for everyone. In a small country like Finland (compared to bigger countries), you would think it’s even more difficult. Here you need to stand out even more. It’s not only about applying for jobs, it’s finding something to apply to which is my problem. Searching jobs in the open market is a pain since the requirements from the employers can be quite unrealistic. I see no point in applying because it’s obvious I won’t even get an interview. I don’t have the skills to the job or the experience either. Luckily there are other ways to find work.

At the moment I do an employment training course in entrepreneurship. I applied to one earlier but I didn’t get in so I applied to another. This one is mostly online. We’re supposed to watch educational videos made by the consultants and then write a business plan with questions. Trying to write it has made me realise how unready I am to be an entrepreneur. I have never seen me as one. My father has an own business and so was my grandfather (who died when my mother was a child) but I just give up too easily. My weakness is marketing. As an introvert, networking is a pain. I find this course a bit boring so my motivations aren’t very high. It seems like anywhere you look, web designers offer the same. I don’t think I don’t have anything new to offer. I’m not an inventor, I do design. I’m been thinking about what kind of services I want to have. I don’t only want to do websites. When I studied web design, I got this idea I would have both web/graphic design and photography if I become an entrepreneur. If I only did one thing I would get bored. I like variety and I got experiences of all three. Photography would just be a bonus though.

I don’t really know what to call myself. Web Designer who does graphic design or Graphic Designer doing web design. Maybe more of the first since I have a qualification. I would like to do graphic design that is only used online. But of course, if a client wants it in print, that’s alright too. Last time I studied graphic design was in 2011 so I thought of updating my knowledge. I applied the 2nd time to a graphic design education in Helsinki Design School. I studied photography there in 2015. It’s not full-time so if I have a job I can still study at the same time. It starts in August. It’s still a long way to go so anything can happen. Maybe something I already know is learned but every teacher is pro in their own field. Last time I studied there it didn’t get me anywhere. I go there with an open mind. You never stop learning in design. I really hope I have something by then. If it’s entrepreneurship or working somewhere else. My mind is complicated and has a lot going on. It would really be time for me to make up my mind for the future. Everyone needs a little talisman in their life and I hope I find mine.

Life after web design education

laptop code

Hi, there. Long time no see. I’ve been neglecting this blog for my other one, In my world. But also because I didn’t really know what to do with this blog after my web design education ended. I still don’t know but I’ll keep it updated from time to time. It won’t be that often though.

So I’m back to job search again and I admit, I hate it. Never like it either. I’m been turning orange for thinking what to do next. I’m very slow when comes to decisions. I’ve searched the internet about web design business etc. It feels like I’m old compared to all those young hopefuls who’s been doing design for years. At least I’ve had client work so I’m not a total novice. Thoughts keep creeping into my mind that I’m not fit for it after all. I haven’t designed anything since school ended. Soon I’ll forget about coding and such. Maybe I shouldn’t write this on this blog but I’m very lazy when it comes to practice. I want to do something in design. An ordinary job is not for me. Maybe I’m just unmotivated because I can’t find a job that could suit me.

I’m not a risk taker and if I do, it takes a long time to pick up the courage to start anything. Especially when it comes to making a living. Looking what’s out there on the open market, making it on my own looks more tempting. If I search for a job in other places, they have their requirements about who they’re looking for. Then you have to impress them in your cover letters and resumes. I’m not very good at describing myself in words. When I search for web designer jobs, web developing jobs appear. I’m not a developer, I’m a designer who can code but just a bit. I think it’s strange that the tag is ‘web designer’ but the job is still ‘web developer’ Then there are visual, UI and UX designer. There’s just so much out there so I don’t really know how to call myself anymore. I’m definitely not a front-end or back-end developer. It’s too advanced for me and that’s not what I want to do.

Creating your business is easier. It’s the finding clients and putting yourself out there that requires the hardest job. As an introvert, networking doesn’t come naturally. I don’t know if I have the nature of being self-employed. My father is but he got that never give up attitude. I give up too easily. Sometimes I’m excited about something but that doesn’t take long. It’s easier just to be and do what’s fun but that doesn’t pay the bills. I’m not the one who wants to be out of a job the rest of my life. I have thought about becoming a light entrepreneurship. That’s a good way to try how it is to be self-employed. What worries me the most is, am I good enough so people will choose me to their projects? I put my work on Behance and online in general but I don’t get many likes. So the whole promoting your work on social media is a lot of nonsense to me. It hasn’t helped me much. I don’t get much reaction from social media on my personal account so how will it work on the business side?

They teach things in school about the basics of web design (or any design school) but they don’t teach you how to market yourself. They don’t teach you how to find clients either. Thankfully the internet is full of different tips. What’s so great about web design is that you’re never ready. There’s always something you can learn. I still want to do web design but I also want to do more than just that. I told myself it was enough of education but I did apply for another education but in graphic design. I don’t know if I get in but it doesn’t matter if I don’t. I’ve already had a basic examination in graphic design but that was in 2011 so things have changed since then. The education is just part-time so if I get a job, I can still go there. I want to do both photography, web and graphic design. They all different and yet the same. I like versatility and if I only did one thing, I would get bored. I mostly want to do digital design. I learn better if someone says what to do, so a school is a better choice than being self-taught. For some, it might work but I’m not patient enough to study alone.

I don’t want to be rich, I want to have enough so I don’t need to be hungry. Whatever I chose to do, I’ll know I’ll do it as well as I can. Whatever I’ve studied has never been in vain. I’ll always find a positive side of everything. Some things happen for a reason and maybe the design is my reason. When I do find what I’m gonna do next, I’ll get rid of the orange colour of my thoughts.

Inspiration

inspiration

Inspiration
A web designer, yes I am
You need inspiration to be one
It’s not just about coding, it’s about finding the right niche
Get inspiration of what you like
Find it on the street or the closest park
Get inspiration of other sites
Colours, layouts, fonts and everything in between
Photos are good when you take them yourself
Find inspiration from within and share it
Make others happy with your design and leave the negative behind
Web design is a way of living
The inspiration comes when you at least need it

I passed the test!

I passed

Today is the day when I can happily say, I passed the final exam of my web design education 🙂 I wasn’t sure if my presentation would have been good enough. It wasn’t as bad as I thought at first. The evaluators were really easy-going and they gave me good advice. I would have been satisfied with just getting the preparatory training certificate but the qualification one is even better. It makes me feel I have achieved something. Even if I had difficulties, I still managed to get through them. But there’s no use of all these certificates if you can’t get a job.

That’s the next step I have to take again. I already applied to a few but I don’t think I’m qualified for those jobs. There’s no harm in applying though. It just shows you’re not being lazy. Finding a place as a web designer near your hometown is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Both of those jobs I applied for are in Helsinki area. The other option to get a job is self-employment but that’s not for everyone. I have considered that too but it’s a lot of work. It does tempt me because then I can do things at home. It’s the other stuff that I don’t want to go through. It’s riskier than working for someone else. I really liked the time when we had on the job learning thing. I learned to think on my own. I felt freer and I didn’t have to work from 9 am to 5 pm. I could do the work from 3 pm to something else. I could do everything in my own time. There was a deadline when to get the work done so I couldn’t really be lazy whenever I wanted. Now it’s a little different because now I have to know what to charge the future clients.

Another thing could be self-employed or freelancer, if you like, is to find clients. That’s where the work is and also you have to sell your soul.  I mean your skills. It’s difficult if you’re just starting out. What I like the least is networking. Online it’s easier but you also need to meet people in real life. At least that’s what I read about. For an introvert it’s hell. I handled all my clients through emails and it took a while before I got a reply but yet I got it done. It could be the same for real too. There’s also a chance to become a light entrepreneur where you don’t need to have a business. All the paperwork are done for you. That could be a good way to try your wings on freelancing. The easiest way would be trying to get a job somewhere but if that’s not gonna happen, then it’s their loss. One thing is for sure and that’s not having a job at all. Going to school is not an option either.

This is the first time in my life that I can actually say what I do. I’m a web designer, yes I am. What is left is to get a job where I can make a living out of it. It’s time to put these new skills to action.

 

 

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

Tallenna

A journey coming to an end

two boats on shore

First of all, sorry for not updating this blog but I’ve been busy with school work. There isn’t much time left of this education. Next week (maybe) I’ll know if I passed the exam. On the job learning ended and I made a couple of websites for clients. The hardest part was the report writing about the projects and filling the personal competence demonstration form. There’s no exact word for it in English (in Google it says display plan) but in Finnish it’s called ‘Näyttösuunnitelma’. Don’t ask me how to say it because I wouldn’t know how to write it. But the form got a lot of dots where is says what kind of skills you need to have and how you prove them. What made it difficult was to understand what it meant and since Swedish is my mother tongue, Finnish is difficult to write. I can’t find the words and then all these commas between words. I’ve probably gonna fail the final test because of that. I’m not gonna think that negative because if you do, you definitely will fail. It’s not the end of my world if I don’t pass. Though, It would be nice to have a vocational examination after all the hard work I’ve done.

It’s easy to become bitter if you still won’t get a job no matter how many examinations you have. Sometimes I do feel no one wants to hire me. I can do things but I don’t know what I could do to make a living out of it. It’s not like I’m gonna operate on someone. I don’t have that kind of responsibility. The only thing that could die, is a website that gets hacked. During the web design education I’ve had doubts about my abilities to be a web designer. Especially after the on the job learning time. There’s so many things I forgot to do and I got my thoughts all over the place. My weakness is both coding and project management. I can have stuff in order. But when it comes to web design, I get all confused. It feels like nothing stays in my head. I’m not a person who can solve people’s problems. If a client says what kind of websites they want, it can be possible that I can’t help them. I try to search the solution online but it takes a lot of time. Maybe it’s just unexperienced talking but I feel really uncertain if I can do things right. I’m worried I’ll fail as a web designer and I have to start to think what to do all over again.

Now when this journey is coming to an end, its time for job search again. I’m not looking forward to the next step because I know I have to contact the unemployment center again. At this moment it looks like I end up there anyway. I’ve thought about making it on my own but it has its risks. My father has an own business but it’s very uncertain. You have to do everything yourself and not forgetting paying the taxes. It won’t be easy to get yourself out there when there’s so many who wants the same thing. Web designers also need marketing skills and a good network. You also need to find clients which is another challenge. I’m not courageous and I give up easily. It’s the money that worries me the most. I have bills to pay, you know. When you start a business, it doesn’t take over night to make a profit out of it. The money must come somewhere.
The good side of self-employment is being your own boss. You don’t have to go anywhere. Working in web design and other creative jobs, you don’t necessarily need an office. As long as you have the equipment, it’s all that matters. The freedom is the one that attracts but the other stuff that comes with it, I’m not that keen.

The other solution is work for someone else but that’s the hard part that hasn’t worked for me. I’ve looked through open jobs online but there’s not many of them. When there is, they want skills that I don’t have. The other thing is, the jobs are in another city and I rather not move. I also don’t have driver’s license so it’s more difficult to get there.
In a company, a web designer doesn’t have to do all the work. There are other employees that you work with. You know you’ll get a paycheck every month. There’s less responsibilities than being self-employed. A part of me wants to try my wings on making on my own but it’s the uncertainty that I don’t want to feel. But if I can’t find a job I can apply for, then maybe I should take the bumpy road.

What’s certain is this blog. I will continue to post in it. I have the link in my Finnish portfolio (http://www.miasalminen.com) but since it has a different address and all that, it might not be part of the site. It’s just there temporarily for now. Web design is still a new skill I’m learning so the site descriptions stays. If only I would get paid to have this blog and my dilemma would be over.

 

The passport to a better web designer

passport

First the good news. I’ve got 3 clients for the on the job learning. I couldn’t handle more since I also have to do a lot of others assignments besides client work. I’m meeting the teacher next week for a recap. Every day designers get rejections from possible clients for different reasons and it’s nothing personal. Fortunately, there’s always someone who needs something to be designed. In my case, web design. When you lose some, you gain some. The passport to a better web designer is practice. If you can’t find clients, you never become better. It’s the same with everything is life. Practice makes perfect. It’s a cliché but so true.

web design quotePeople think web design is done under a week and it’s easy but that’s not the case. It takes a lot of planning and it also depends on how much of work there is to be done. If you want a decent website for your business, it should be made by a professional. Website builders are usually made for people who doesn’t know coding and who wants to have it done quickly. But there are no free meals. Even using CMS have paid features. You can go quite far if you use a free template but it does have its limitations. You shouldn’t believe in commercials that say it doesn’t take long to build a website because that’s not exactly true. You can set up one but when it comes to designing, you need to know what you’re doing.

Before I started to study web design, I thought is would be easy. It wasn’t a drag and drop thing. You have to think how a site is built and understand coding. I’ve used WordPress platform for blogging and learned how to use it. But designing a website is a totally different challenge. Using WP in blogging has been a big help, though. Without that, it would have been harder to understand it. Finding a good theme takes a lot of time and when you do, you have to examine it how much you’re allowed to edit it. It takes a lot of time to explore different themes and to learn how everything works. If you make a site from scratch, it takes even longer since you have to think about code. That’s a different world and I really admire those who bother to learn it and like it. Luckily a web designer doesn’t have to learn all the codes in the world. As long as you understand them, that what matters. Making a good site takes a lot of time and effort.

There are as many different kinds of designers as there are photographers. Both professions seem to look easy and people wonder why they cost so much. It’s not only about a click of a button or dragging a mouse across the screen. They plan, meet clients, photo editing, some need to travel, pay different taxes and so on. Running a business is not cheap. Being creative is tough and you can’t do a job for free. As a beginner, you also have to market your skills and that doesn’t happen over night. It’s not only about designing things, you also need to communicate, manage a project, stay updated for new trends and you also need to update your portfolio from time to time. So before judging how much it costs, think about how much work there is to be done. Designers make a living off their skills and a good one deserves all they get. If I decide to continue on this web design road, I hope my passport is good enough for the journey.

 

Tallenna

Immersed into my studies

study

I’ve been so immersed into my studies, I haven’t had time to write this blog. I don’t remember exactly what we have learned. This post is more of an update than how it has went so far.
We had Joomla and then some more WordPress. I also got myself an own domain for my portfolio. Even if it’s CMS, it’s still difficult. It’s the finding stuff, themes, codes etc. that is a pain in the neck. It’s nothing like the blog version of WordPress where you don’t have the chance to change the codes. In the website version, the one you can download on WordPress.org or your web hosting service. You have to search the widgets, themes and plugins by yourself. You can also download some plugins through WP. In Joomla, it’s even harder so I prefer WP to that. Also because I’m used to it.

On the job learning begins next week. I had 4 clients but now it seems, there’s only one. What I hate the most is waiting. I’m still waiting for a reply for 2 others but I’ve lost hope. I really hope people would email back instead of keeping me waiting for ages. This is not good. Failing on the last-minute. I really need clients to make sites for. I won’t graduate otherwise. Client work is the main thing. One client was sure but I still haven’t got the contract signed. I’m really worried now. I’ve come this far and I don’t want to give in. The job learning is for 6 weeks and if I don’t have a job during that time, it’s been useless. I have nothing to show to the assessors who’s gonna grade our work. Am I cursed somehow? I had a hand full of clients and now soon none. It’s so close now and then clients fail me. At least it’s not my job where I get paid. I would become very poor if I had an own business. Maybe people don’t want to rely on a student. But how can a student gets experience, if no one wants to give you practise. Everybody doesn’t have friends and family to make sites for. I’ve searched the internet for ideas how to get clients but they won’t help me. Maybe I’m driving people away. It makes me feel like a person who thought they were creative but no one else sees it that way. I won’t become a real web designer and I have yet again think what I want to do for a living. It was such a good idea at first. But losing clients, have made me think if I can do it after all.

Every wannabe designer have trouble getting a crack at it at first. That’s what I want to think at least. When you lose a client for no special reason, you get up again. But when you study web design and you need to find clients, you get almost desperate and worried you won’t find new one’s. Other thing is, can I really do it? It feels like I forgot everything I learned. In the first on the job learning, it was really difficult and it didn’t become a site. I can’t use that in the last exam. It’s not impressive at all for a client work. When something is being the target of assessment, it should be decently done. You need to prove your professionalism because it is after all a further vocational qualification. Not getting a client, is a lame excuse and I don’t want to be seen as a loser.
So this post won’t become a negative one, I’ll end this with a happier note. Things is never too bad, you can’t handle them. I got through the first client work with decency and no matter what happens, I shouldn’t give up hope.

Being photoshopping

photoshopped buckets
Made with Photoshop CS6

In photo editing you’re never finished. You always learn something new and different methods. For me photoshop is the more familiar photo editing program. There are others like Gimp which is free but when you’re used to using Photoshop, you’ll never go back. If I want something done very quickly I use PicMonkey but other times, I use that one.

Last week we had photo editing all week and it ended today. We had Lightroom and then Photoshop. In school we have CS6 but it’s not much different from the newer versions. They all similar, it only depends what you need and how to use it. We learned for example how to put text in a photo, reflections to a text, patterns on a photo, clipping masks etc. We also practised doing banners. One thing is to know what kind of tools there is and the other how to master them. That’s why practise is very important. Even if photo editing is familiar to me, a repeat is always in order. Today we had a little about 3D in Photoshop even though it’s not in the education plan. There are other programs where you can do them that are much better. But if you only want to make something simple, the Photoshop one is enough. Making things in 3D is a totally different world.

We haven’t only done photo editing but also learning Finnish grammar. Even if we live here, there’s always difficulties. I’m not surprised at all that foreigners have problems with learning the language. Talking and writing is two different things. You have to know where to put commas and so on. I’ve had troubles with that since Finnish-Swedish is my mother tongue. Last but not least. We have an assignment where we work in pairs. One is the client and the other is the web designer. Then visa versa. It’s a made up bakery and confectionery business and the site will be made with WordPress, so it’s a real site. We interviewed each other and then we would write a history about the make up story based on the interview. Then we should make a banner and a logo. That’s next on the agenda. It’s good practise for the future. Making web sites is not something you do in a day. There’s a lot of planning and hair pulling before it’s finished. You don’t make a web site to yourself nor the client. You make it for the customers. They’re the one’s using the site. That’s a story for another day.

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