Students exploring Web Design…


If you are investigating a potential career path in Web Design. The following conversation is to provide a realistic view of this profession to aid in your decision-making process.

In this conversation, Sandra Burns from answers general questions, sharing her education, experience and the path that led her to Web Design. You can also watch a video of her back story or see her history on this page.

Key Questions

What does a typical day look like in your occupation?
In the past, I did more web design. Today, I do more Instructional Design, building online learning for companies. it is similar to web design as you can export to a web page. However, it is uploaded typically to an LMS or Learning Management System on a company intranet (an internal internet) for employees to take and learn from.
What do you spend most of your time doing every day?
When I first was a web designer, I had to split my time between actually designing web sites, and getting the business as I was a startup back in the early days of the internet. If you work for a bigger company your time would be mostly focused on Web Design.
What are the day to day responsibilities that someone outside of your field might not know about?
It helps to have good communication skills in whatever you do.

Communicate with the client and understand exactly what they needed or wanted. After discussing, you would need to extract the content from them. Some may be starting from scratch and you may have to take text, images and video from various sources. Others may just need to update what they have.

So I ask my Who, What, When, Why’s, Where to extract that content.

  1. Who is the audience, who needs to know this, etc.
  2. Who is this from. (This is your about us or company bio page)
  3. What is it? (Main content)
  4. Why do they need to know it? (Is something updated? A new law?)
  5. When do they need to know this? Or when do they perform the action we are teaching, talking about, etc?
  6. Where is it going? (Internet, Intranet, LMS, Social media, etc.)
  7. Where or when does it apply? (The CCPA Law went into affect June 2020)

In sales, I learned when putting together a presentation it has to flow. I build web and instructional design this way too. So structure your content logically, where the flow makes sense. Go through the site yourself, have others test it too.

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them. (That will be your intro)
  2. Tell them. (This is the meat of the content.)
  3. Tell them what you told them. (That is your summary.)
  4. Tell them where to get it? (This would be resources of related content.)

There were also many learning theories taught in my Masters programs but what I noticed was with every theory there was an opposing one too. Even companies felt this way, some were agile, some weren’t. Some followed ADDIE, some followed Bloom. Here’s a link to learning theories I researched.

What can you tell us about related occupations in your field?

There are many more people in Web Design today. That if you want to  to set yourself apart find a niche’. For example, Cybersecurity is a much needed skillset, keeping a company safe is highly sought after Also, anything more technical than designing to be in more demand. As technical skills make you more of an asset such as programming. In addition, any video is helpful, knowing graphics too. The more you bring to the table the more competitive you will be.

What levels of education and training are required?
None really, you can self teach yourself but if you can take some courses to get the basics and jump start that does help. Also, stay on top of technology, watch videos, build some sample sites to help you get started and to have something to show in a web-based portfolio. Try out different things. Have an example of varying sites even if you have to build friends first to experiment just to get some experience, as all sites are unique but have some of the basic same components.
Once you complete the basic educational/training requirements for this occupation, are there other related occupations that a person would be qualified for?

Yes, I first started as a Graphic Designer, later added Web Design when the internet became popular utilizing my graphic skills. My websites morphed into membership sites, I did a networking company and a recruiting site where members or applicants could sign up and share their profile, upload an image, etc. Or a company upload a job description. Any automation you can build makes for a seamless site. Then I wanted to take my Adobe Training and put it on the web but needed to have a way for them to pay then download the files. Later, beside recording videos of myself which it helps to to learn audio and video editing tools, then you would embed the code of the video into the page. Also adding courses with multiple lessons is what I do now with my website this is called an LMS (Learning Management System) or LXP (Learning Experience Platform.

Tell us how what they are learning in school now applies to your occupation?
I feel I am always a student, in Technology there is always something to learn as it grows and changes. New software or new ways of doing things come out. I just finished my Masters Degree a few years ago in something that didn’t exist when I first went to college. In fact, when I was choosing to go to college I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I liked art but wasn’t as good as the master drawings or paintings or illustrators for Disney so it would be hard to make money in that field with little talent. Computers were becoming more popular and jobs were opening up. So I took a computer class and an art class. Boy I did not like programming, it was like a foreign language. So I only took on jobs for data entry. I then took a graphic design course, because I had so many ideas and wanted to put them on paper and struggled too as an artist. Then something called desktop publishing came out, I no longer had to lay type down my hand, as there was a software called PageMaker, nor airbrush as there was a new software out called Photoshop.I taught myself these programs as doing all this from scratch I felt was much harder. All of this was possible when postscript language was invented in 1982 for printers by two Dr.’s that soon started a company called Adobe. They created Illustrator to edit the postscript and Acrobat to read the postscript. So then I became a graphic designer and marketing director at a startup computer company, designing all the signage for trade shows, brochures anything needed. I worked at Xerox for a bit and on a sales call I stumbled upon an internet company building sites in 1995 and decided this was going to be big as I was in advertising and knew the cost of ads. So I went to work for an internet company, as a marketing director with web designers who programmed mostly form scratch html language. Software came out like Webmill and Sitemill from Adobe so I then started with those and some basic knowledge of HTML. There was an article written about me in the Arizona Republic Business section as one of the few embarking on this new adventure. Many were interested, but not many were placing orders I was in a pioneer state of marketing curve. One day I was walking down the hall in my office and came upon a satellite office of Adobe, and I peaked my head in the door and said, I love Adobe Products! I was motioned to come in and apply for an application engineer job. I shared my degree wasn’t in engineering this nice lady interviewing I learned was also form Chicago and worked at Xerox like me prior to moving to Arizona. I interviewed and took the job as she said I was the only one who took home this FrameMaker software then I never worked on before and built an SGML Table when I returned with it the next day. Next, I was covering a 5 state territory presenting Adobe Software everywhere onsite at companies, at trade shows lunch and learns, in front of large audiences. Next, I would be a consultant listed on the Adobe Website for Training which I did for 10 years. Then saw a shift to online training and got back into web design, membership design, LMS design now contract to large companies needing online learning.
What should their focus be if this profession is their ultimate goal?
Start with the basics, then learn graphics, video, audio, programming, security. Look at other sites, figure out how they built them.Stay up on Technology.
Expected Outcomes
I would like for my students to get a good overview of what to expect from a career in this field and what it takes to get there.

I would add this:

Find a problem to solve, improve something. Stay on top of new technologies. Ultimately, you will spend time in something you first of all love. If you are looking at the clock you may not be happy doing what you are doing. When the time goes by and you find yourself still hacking away at something you know that is your passion. Be happy and follow your heart! Don’t be afraid to make connections, network.

I was so excited to share my journey, I added a new section recently and added these questions there. Here it is for future reference, and keep learning