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We previously discussed the essential things you need to know to become a web designer in ‘What All Do I Need To Know‘, however if you are willing to put in a little more effort there are some things that you don’t necessarily need to know but if you did would not only make you a better designer but can also really go the extra mile and set you apart from others in the field.  While not essential it would be helpful for you to know: how to configure DNS settings, the basics of how to code in HTML, CSS, Javascript, and PHP, how to create child themes in WordPress, and how to create and work with databases. Most of the time you will not need these skills but sometimes they come in very handy when a client wants a particular solution that for instance requires some basic CSS knowledge and you are capable of providing it to them instead of telling them that it is not possible which may or may not result in losing them. 

1) Configuring DNS Settings

While not covered in this school it can be very advantageous to know how to configure your clients DNS settings. Whether they have a custom email, which they often do, are transferring their site to new hosting, or pointing their domain to a new server it is important that their site doesn’t go down and that all their connected tools still work during the process. Now usually their hosting provider can take care of this and it is typically a smart idea to just let them handle it, but it doesn’t hurt to be able to know how to do it yourself as that can speed up the process, and it also helps to just know what you are talking about when you are either working with the hosting provider or explaining to the client what all is going on with their site. 

2) Learn To Code

Learning how to code is also not offered through this school as we try to keep it very specific to the essential and practical ways to become a web designer. However, there will be many times where it will be helpful to know the basics of web development. The key languages you will want to know are HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP. It is by no means a small feat to learn all of these. They are all interconnected and will take quite a bit of time. However, if you do decide to learn them you will definitely be a better web designer because of it. You will understand why things work the way they do which will help with your layout and have a better eye for the best solution and it will  give you the ability to create particularly customized sites as well. 

3) Customizing WordPress

Since most of the solutions you provide your clients will involve using WordPress it definitely is advantageous to know the ins and outs of it. WordPress is a CMS built using PHP but is very much like its own language, so not only will you need to know HTML, CSS, and PHP but you will need to learn the specifics of ‘coding in WordPress. However, once you have mastered this a bunch of doors open in regards to the solutions you are able to offer your clients. You can create child themes customized navigation bars or add elements/layouts to the theme they are using that were originally not there. Since so much of this school focuses around the WordPress platform many of these skills are offered here, and while they should not be taken first, are a great addition if you are looking to start adding development skills into your ability to design sites.

4) Creating & Working With Databases

Besides learning the basics of web development and customizing wordpress themes, the last key skill that can really expand your capability to take on more complex projects is learning how to create and work with databases. Before leaning about databases you should first learn the basics of web development such as HTML, JavaScript, PHP, CSS as mentioned above as without these tools databases won’t be of much use to you as a designer as databases don’t actually have anything to do with design. Databases are what hold information on the server such as users, passwords, posts, etc. and you will use PHP or some other language to grab the information from the server and display it on the page or perform some other action. For this reason databases are also not offered in this school but if you get to the point where you know the basics of programming and can work with databases you can go as far as to start creating APIs and your own WordPress themes and plugins. These are skills that directly apply to web development not web design, but knowing what is going on in the background and why things work the way they do will definitely make you a better designer. As we mentioned in previous articles, designers aren’t there just to design but to solve problems for their clients and the more you know the better you will be. 

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