Showcase of Web Design in Russia

The land mass that is one-sixth of the Earth is always surprising. As the founder of one of design-related magazines in Russia (Designcollector.net), I am happy to present the hidden force that is Russia. I won’t dwell on the classic stereotypes but will rather look at the creativity flowing through.

The era of professional and commercial online design started in Russia about a decade ago. We’re now seeing an increase in professional design and development. I won’t concentrate much on the history of Web design in Russia; that has been happening for ages. Like everywhere in the world, Web design came to Russia as a modern way to present any kind of information to an audience online. So, principles such as simplicity, accessibility and eye-catching design have been cultivated for several years.

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Russian Web Design: Mospromstroy

Web development as a profession was relegated to the elite for years until geek heads and artists took it over. For a few years there was a boom of home pages and tiny corporate websites that were built with any regard for the end user. This trend ended thankfully, in large part due to the highly scaled websites that came out the original and still unique studio founded by Artemy Lebedev, which has produced more than 760 websites.

Today, the professional scene of web design consists of thousands of freelancers, studios, agencies and large media companies, along with offshore and outsourcing businesses. I won’t do a “Top 20″ this or that rating, but I will try to touch on the most established parts of Russian Web design, including agencies, freelancers, portals and so on.

State Of Things

Measuring a Web design market by the products of its agencies is not quite fair. Russian agencies have also proven their management technologies and quality-control processes. As someone once said, “The best way to understand a new city is to go to the central market.” And in Russia, Web design is still concentrated in the hands of freelancers and small studios. To get a better picture of freelancing in Russia and the bordering Ukraine, I have asked two freelancers to talk about their work.

I spoke with Gennady V. Osypenko, who is the rather famous Kiev-based designer working with companies from Eastern Europe (he is also known as Genn), and Dmitry Sulliwan, a Russian freelance Web designer.

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Q: Could you please describe the life of a freelancer, developer and designer?

Gennady Osypenko: You do work, get inspiration and then do more work: that is freelancing. For sure, you meet clients and collaborate a lot. Compared with an office job, you travel around the city a lot, wasting your time on that. Freelance designers become the center of the project, and even oversees developers, acting as a kind of art director. Designers in offices just do the routine, yelling at account managers and listening to art directors. Hence, I am a freelancer, and I do not remain at one job for long.

Dmitry Sulliwan: The work of freelancer is very interesting. You get new experiences from working with different companies on diverse projects, and some of those experiences may not even be related to design. Different cultural and professional events make the life of the freelancer easier and allow him to share his experience and understand the value of his job. A freelancer’s life is good because he manages himself, which allows you to get more pleasure from your work. But that does not mean you work any less. From my perspective, freelancers work one-and-a-half times more than permanent contractors. The only barrier to getting the best results is laziness. Hence, there are not a whole lot of true professionals in the freelancing space.

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Q: Are there any regular meetings or events?

Genn: We hold festivals and different advertisement exhibitions. The only exhibition I have visited abroad was the designers market in Budapest (Sziget). Web-oriented conferences were very popular last year. Not all of them were about design, but some were useful and interesting anyway. I’ve done things like short master classes at some of them, and I plan to do that in future; I’ve been invited at the end of October to say something about being a freelance designer. I like talking about what I do to people who are eager to listen.

Dmitry: There is a good set of conferences in Russia. I can name the last ones: DesignAct in Moscow, and the 404 Web Designers Conference in Samara. Many Russians also visit foreign events in Europe and around the world.

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Q: Where do you get inspiration from?

Genn: I get inspiration from everything around me. That is a typical answer, but any object could lead my imagination to the unique and perfect idea. It is like in the House M.D. series on TV, when House is stuck on a diagnosis and suddenly gets inspiration to solve it. I got inspiration for my last project from the Wipeout Pulse game on PSP. I played it for hours and eventually got an idea for a website architecture.

Dmitry: Design books, magazines and Internet resources. Nowadays, we have a nice bunch of local design blogs on which they share their experiences and thoughts.

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Solisty Moskvy

Q: What’s the situation with the market? How much do designers earn?

Genn: I don’t know the situation in the market, but I know for sure that a lot of people want to make a website or establish an online identity. As a freelance designer or creative process supervisor, I prefer more interesting and specific projects, ones that don’t reflect the whole market situation.

Dmitry: True designers, like any other good specialists, cost a good amount of money. The question is whether there are enough positions. There are many agencies and studios, and so fewer of them would be able to provide a good experience or take on interesting projects.

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Q: Is being a Web designer considered high-level, sophisticated work?

Genn: When you see an ad on every (literally every) open surface saying, “Site for $100,” how could you regard Web designers or anyone connected with website creation to be high level or sophisticated? Luckily for us, customers who really need complex, functional websites understand that they have to work with professionals. Just because you can illustrate something does not mean you are a Web designer. If you can organize the craziest information in a usable and readable way, and then decorate it, then you are a Web designer. So, we could say that being a Web designer is both high level and not high level at the same time. Actually a lot of Web designers also create perfect identities and motions, so I’d better call them designers, even though we create beautiful websites.

Dmitry: Unfortunately, not always. Mostly because people still confuse Web designers with system administrators [Interviewer note: That’s true, because most Russian Web designers can do Shell and Apache tasks, hosting stuff and email management and develop a reputation for mixing them together. When a Russian customer orders a website, they want it 100% with domains, parking, hosting, support. This is the main issue with the profession.] But in most IT and related companies, the position of Web designer (and developer, UI designer and visual designer) is valued and respected because of the high-level skills and usually complex work involved. These days, the Web design profession has cut out its own place in the market and is recognized for it.

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Q: There are rumours that many designers in Russia still use tables, and that most designs are 100% fluid, regardless of screen resolution?

Genn: Are you referring to HTML coders and Web developers? As far as I know, the trend is to use semantic code and follow accessibility and other compliance standards. One Ukrainian HTML coder even coded his own blog in HTML 5 and met all standards requirements, even if only for a few browsers. So they’re all progressive and forward-looking. As for 100% fluid width, there was an assumption that all websites had to be 100% wide and fill the whole browser window. As I explain in my training and master classes, the width of websites should fit the requirements. As I can tell, incorrect use of fluid widths is declining and used in only specific instances.

Dmitry: Those are only rumors. Professional Web developers follow standards and adopt the latest trends in coding. Fluid width is a distinction of Russian Web development and a common standard. Good fluid layouts are usable, dynamic and look good at different resolutions. And good Web developers can avoid common issues, such as those related to floating and typography, by using fluid width.

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Imja Rossii

Q: What about typography and Web standards?

Genn: It’s a common joke that all designers hate Cyrillic letters. The letters really look odd if you want to create something fancy, but we adapt to it. I like the story of one logo made in the US for some candy trademark. The designer decided to add a feature to the logo and name, so he made ö out of o. Years later, he found out that Scandinavian designers hate umlauts, but he used them as decoration and it worked well. We have to abstract and not see hieroglyphs in letters but rather understand their nature and use them in the best way.

Dmitry: Cyrillic type has far-reaching issues. The main illusion is that Cyrillic type is not better than Latin. That issue is outdated. We have great Russian typography designers who do amazing type that fits certain designs well and win awards. Nowadays, even Web editorials order custom typography for their titles. Typography on the Web has become user-friendly and readable.

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Q: Are there any issues unique to Russian Web design?

Genn: Yeah, there might be some difference between design in Ukraine and in Russia. As long as designers are not regarded as high-level specialists in the community, then customers will continue to believe that they are perfect designers, too. So, they will always want to move this a bit, repaint that a touch, and change the whole layout five minutes before the deadline. With any project, I try to be as specific as possible in explaining almost every pixel (or dot, if we are talking about print) so that the customer can see why the product is the way it is. It’s surprising, but it works more than half the time. The other problem is that no one wants to part with their money, so you could end up waiting some time before getting money for a project that is done, implemented and working.

Dmitry: Russian customers still do not understand that designers do not blindly follow their ideas but are rather themselves highly motivated workers who want to produce the best results for the given job. Whoever the customer, whether foreign or local, every time it is a minor war. Designer-client relations are not stable in Russia and are not even regulated. We have no professional unions and, of course, no support from the government. Newcomers to freelancing are often not aware that some customers are unfair, but they find out when they do not get paid.

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Q: Do you see any remarkable differences between Russian designs and ones in the US and Western Europe?

Genn: I am happy that distinguishing between designs in Russia and those on the worldwide scene is becoming harder and harder. The designs here are unique in their own way, but then the work of every good designer is unique.

Dmitry: As mentioned, the main difference is fluid layouts. Good Russian websites have a clear and semantic structure, and they don’t follow strict grids, which make the layouts dynamic and fresh. They use modern Web technologies, combining unobtrusive JavaScript with clean xHTML.

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Russian UK Style

Q: How does all of this work?

Genn: I don’t know. I didn’t like physics in university much. When I ask myself that question, I start reading British science fiction. It doesn’t answer the question, but it has a lot of funny jokes.

Dmitry: Briefly, the situation is good. Russian Web designers are always looking forward and no longer do clumsy, heavy Flash-based websites. We have started to concentrate on usability and accessibility and become more integrated with the rest of the professional world.

DC: Russian Web designers are even starting to organize professional unions (like WSG Russia) and visit local conferences, such as 404, RIT, Drupal Camp and many others.

Showcase Of Creative Agencies

Let’s turn now from the freelancing life in Russia to the FMCG and promotional sectors, where Russian creative agencies live. They do their best to impress consumers with their products and corporate websites. The results are meant to impress visitors and make them spread the news like a virus. Here are some agencies that have gained public attention as well as prestigious awards, such as the FWA, ADCR and even the Cyber Lions shortlist.

Design Depot

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Deluxe Interactive

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Red Keds

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Nile Studio

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Coalla Revolving

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Transformer Studio

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Showcase Of Web Agencies

These guys create great websites and form the foundation of the Russian Web design scene. They’re not necessarily the best; they just do their work better than most.

As mentioned, ArtLebedev Studio is still the largest studio in the Russian market, based on portfolio size. To date, it has done more than 760 websites, 725 graphic designs, 113 product designs, 44 interfaces, 32 environmental designs and 30 presentations. This record is still unbeaten, and its brand is something of a guarantee on the Russian Web design scene. Also worthy of mention is its Bronze Cannes Cyber Lion award (the only studio in Russia to win it), and its internship program, which helps international students realize their ideas.

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ArtLebedev Studio’s work

The next largest studio in Russia is DEFA Interaktiv. It was founded by Dmitry Kozlov eight years ago and has made a success of its customers’ businesses with its highly professional skills.

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DEFA Interaktiv’s work

The quite new and fast-moving creative agency Deluxe Interactive has already been mentioned at the Favorite Web Awards (FWA) and continues to produce great promotional Flash websites.

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Deluxe Interactive’s work


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Creative People

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Showcase Of Freelancers

Freelancers are the hidden force of Russian creativity. As we mentioned, anyone who can successfully freelance in Russia could handle art direction at any agency with no problem. To grow as professionals, freelancers need a decent place to showcase their work and share insight. Such places include Deforum.ru, free-lance.ru, illustrators.ru, behance.net, revision.ru and russiancreators.ru. Quite a few magazines and blogs profile the best practitioners: kak.ru, Designet.ru, Designlenta.com, Revision.ru, Creativenews.ru, Peopleofdesign.ru, Omami.ru, ru.designeast.eu, designwar.net, djournal.com.ua and Designcollector Network

Valery Fironov

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Stepan Burlakov

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Illya Mikhailov

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Alexander Kizyachenko

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Andrey Gorokhov

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Stas Polyakov

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Andrew Tron

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Denis Drachyov

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Dmitry Sulliwan

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Eugeny Muravyev

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Nazir Khasavov

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Alexandr Martinov

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Alex Kuh

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Anton Ponomarev

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Dmitry Evstropov

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Bogdan Sviridov

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Yuriy Degtyar

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Web Developers Online

The Web developer scene in Russia is well represented on blogs, too. We’ll cherry-pick the best ones here among the dozens that exist. On them, Web developers and intelligent commentators share their thoughts on various topics and host friendly communities. Vadim Makeev and Constantine Osnos chose these ones for us.

Vadim Makeev

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Alexander Shabunevich

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Nikita Vakorin

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Gennady Osipenko

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Din Neville

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The particular nature of Russian communication has produced these huge community platforms, where any topic can rise or fall according to the “vox populi.” Everything IT-related, from Web 2.0 to Web development, is discussed on Habrahabr. The best place to talk about Russian Web standards is Webmascon magazine. And Deforum is the place to share your creative work and welcome a crowd of decent, and sometimes obscene, critics.

Also worthy of mention is Injun, a Flash and ColdFusion development blog, as well as Inforedesign and SEOBaby, for their useful content. Nbsp and Internet Things are great for their professional content related to Web design, development and promotion.

Creative Formations

To round out our picture of Russian creativity, we’ll mention some online resources related to other design industries. For example, advertising: Adme and Advertka. For fashion: LookAtMe and Fashion Communication. And the 3-D and CG arts: Render Ru and CGTalk.

Russian creativity bears fruit every day, and the best way to stay on top of it is to read our Designcollector Network and stay connected to Russia’s magic networks.

Showcase of Russian Web Designs


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Pestovo Golf and Yacht Club

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Yaltinsky Mjasozavod

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DEFA Interaktiv

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Rosinka International Group.

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Stella Artois

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Maminy Kolybelnye

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© Creative People

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Panorama Parket

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Red Apple 18

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Stardust shop

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MTV 2008

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Semejnoe Puteshestvie

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39 Comments to “Showcase of Web Design in Russia”

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  • Larry R August 3, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Preferably a freelance web designer, or maybe a company too.

    A small – medium sized website, how long would it take to make it?

    If possible, break it down into time sections too please

    Thank you in advance, Alexander.

  • Mark August 3, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I’m also wondering if graphic/web designers have to meet their clients personally or strictly online.

    Thank you.

  • therundown2k3 August 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    There are so, so many web designers out there that a generic search for “web designer” gives a million results. Would you use a different phrase, like “i need a website built” or would you maybe narrow down the results by adding more keywords, like “web designer miami”?

    Also, do you care whether or not your web designer works in your area or are you content with long distance?

  • Jon P August 8, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Hello friends i want to become a web designer in future.So what is the salary for senior web designer in INDIA.Thank you.

  • Alun J August 20, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I am a web designer/webmaster who also owns a small web development business and I just bought the new iPod touch. Does anyone recommend apps that could be useful to web designers and/or business owners? Thank you!

  • Armas August 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Hi, everyone. I was wondering how web designers make the shopping cart features for online stores. I know there are some softwares that can be installed on the web server to make a shopping cart, but is the most common way to make a shopping cart? I noticed it’s difficult to change the layout when using those shopping cart softwares.


  • Xedo September 3, 2013 at 7:01 am

    I am just a bit interested in what sort of software professional web designers use . I cant imagine a professorial using notepad ++ for some reason even though i know it possible . I know they use Photoshop but would they use Dreamweaver isn’t self coding it better . If any one could list a few i would be grateful 🙂
    So notepad ++ wouldn’t be suitable for a complex non static website i would need something similar to dreaweaver . Sorry just a bit confused so can notepad be used to code a fully functional non static site which is fairly complex .

  • Joe T September 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Well I’m 14 years old and I am looking into starting my own web design business and I have a few questions to ask:

    1. How do web designers deliver a website made for a customer?

    2. Does the customer pay for the web hosting and domain for the website?

    3. Do you need to teach them how to post stuff on the website?


  • Peter September 12, 2013 at 3:03 am

    I’m suffering financially and I really want a website for business purposes. Where can I find new web designers who want to build up their portfolio for free?

    Hopefully they got experience with facebook apps.

  • Mark September 14, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I’m curious to find out if there is an “industry standard” software program that professional web designers use to create their web pages.

  • lucasg615 September 15, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Hello everyone, I wanna be a web designer but its difficult to choose between science and commerce;
    which stream i should go in?

  • Echo September 19, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Are any of you professional (as in part/full-time job and making money from it) web designers who can do a survey/questionnaire about their job? Maybe somebody knows someone fitting the qualification who can answer it within two or three days tops? The questions will be asked via email, by the way.

  • Jenna September 26, 2013 at 2:48 am

    I know css and html, so I was thinking of designing websites for people. How much do web designers make? Do they make enough to support themselves or is it typically too little? Thanks.

  • mavis24 September 26, 2013 at 2:48 am

    I’m 14 and I’ve been thinking about going into Web Designing (ofcourse when I’m older), But I want some suggestions from people that have/are Web Designers. Have you continued to Web Design?
    How much money do you make a year?
    Do you suggest I go into Web Designing?
    Thanks for your time


  • SteveO September 26, 2013 at 2:48 am

    I need a wizbang web designer and programmer to build a highly interactive ecommerce site with lots of collaborative tools. Ideally, the person would have experience working with/at an online university or other online learning situation (using Blackboard or D2L). Where can I find someone like this?

  • jordenkotor September 28, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I work in a department w/ 8 web designers and I’m the only girl.

  • Jeanelle the Retard September 30, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    What and all shouls i know to become a professional web designer?
    i mean i’m asking about the web designing languages, database, seo and some designing processes…

  • airdogspace2 September 30, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I will be starting a freelancing business as a web designer, and I don’t know how much to charge for creating an entire website. A friend wants me to create a website for them from scratch. What is the typical price to charge someone to create a website that is about 4-5 pages? Where can I find a pay rates chart for specific web designing tasks such as adding a page to a website or creating templates if a client wants me to do small jobs like that?

  • Blake October 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    I am computer Engineer.I would like to start my career with web designer or software developer. Is it true for me? Can I grow ahead?

  • aamir October 12, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Hi. When I put my resume on online i began hear from a lot of IT Recruiters. I guess conventional wisdom is that its better to make direct contact with an employer rather than go through a third party. Web designers, what are your thoughts on recruiters? In the end does it work out well for freelancers looking for work?

  • Mike October 15, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I’m a photographer and I’m looking for an affordable web designer that will design a website to sell and display my photographs. Can you provide a good recommendation for an individual or company? Thanks!

  • Wooooody October 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    i was thinking about going back to school and getting my associates in web design, but i read somewhere that web designers work 60-80 hours a week and they work on their vacation time. is that true? i took a computer class 9 years ago in middle school and we had to create a website and i liked it, but i dont like it enough to work that many hours. so if anybody that works or worked as a web designer could let me know about the working environment, that would be great! thank you!

  • apleaforbrandon October 20, 2013 at 9:44 am

    What languages should i learn?
    What should i be capable of?
    and what do web designers do? do they just design the website or they also host the website as well?
    And do web designers ever concern themselves with the security of the website? like will my knowledge of SQL and C++ make a diff?

  • everythingisgonnabefine October 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I am little bit confused between ecommerce web designer and regular web designer. Can you please differentiate it?

  • clntvrrt October 23, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Where can I find web designers that would be willing to take a percentage and be a partner of a web company I want to start? I don’t know how to design a website and the website I want to start will have to be updated all the time so I was just wondering where I could find web designers.

  • Sophia C October 23, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    I’m so interested to edit images. I want to design my own picture like how they do creatives in professional photo studios but i don’t know where to get those background designs they use fro free.. somebody please help me…

  • Jason M October 24, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I’ve done a couple of websites, but I’ve had help from other web designers. Would cooperating with others to finish a website that I couldn’t do myself hurt my chances as a web designer?

  • Disrae October 24, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    I was wondering how the web designers here host their clients websites and/or sell them domain names. Do you buy one shared hosting account and put them all there or do you give them their own separate accounts as a reseller? Or do you just tell them to go buy hosting somewhere?

    I’d really appreciate as many answers as possible?

  • Samuro November 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I was just wondering what the job prospects for entry level web designers these days? I am currently in the middle of making a career change from sales and marketing and am pursuing an Associates Degree in Interactive Web Design here in Austin, TX. I make excellent grades and am on the honor roll at the school but I am really concerned, given the state of our economy, if I will be able to find an entry level after graduation next year. Any advice or insite would be greatly appreciated!!!!!

  • Joe M November 18, 2013 at 5:28 am

    My boyfriend is in his senior year in college and he’s looking at different jobs such as Web designer, Software Developer, Computer Programmer, or a Database Technician. How much do any of these jobs pay? If you or someone you know work them do they like them? Where in the US does it pay better or worse?
    We have searched different places and we are getting many different numbers across the board so any info would be great.

    We live near Kansas City if that is relevant.

  • SKATEskum November 18, 2013 at 5:28 am

    I am looking for a web designer to build my media website (think MTV) – he is requesting £250 deposit and then the final £250 when its finished. I asked him how long it will take – he said about 2 weeks. Is it me or does that seem too quick to build a website that will be similar to that of MTV??

    I found him on Gumtree but I don’t want to be scammed. Is 2 weeks sufficient time? I thought it would have take a few months at least.
    Ooh okay well you’ve put my mind at ease. I think he will be hosting it on his platform and doing the SEO stuff. As long as I can trust my designer thats all I need. 🙂 thanks

  • Jason M November 22, 2013 at 12:23 am

    I am hoping to do business with web designers in Turkey but am struggling to find a trade organisation on the internet. The easiest way for me to contact these people would be to obtain a full list of web designers in Turkey. Any help appreciated!

  • Roar me R November 23, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Do you need to go to college for it? And what is the lowest and highest salary for a web designer?

  • Arminator November 25, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    What qualifications do I need to become a Web designer?
    I’m just about to start college and I want to know what should I pick?

  • kass9191 November 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm


    I would like to know popular online communities that philippine web designers and illustrators visit.

    Anyone who knows, please give me the information~

    Thank you!