A Day in the life of a Web Art Director
A Web art director works with Internet Web sites and is responsible for translating the overall business objective into a visual solution. The art director works closely with the creative team to figure out the best way to communicate the site’s strategic goals and brand message in an online environment. Web sites contain very complex technical elements, so art directors in this industry need diverse experience. It’s not enough to be a designer; you also need to understand the technical aspects of Web design. Whether or not you can write code, you need to comprehend what the code can do, otherwise you end up designing something that can’t be built. The Web is interconnected, and its nonlinear nature allows for a variety of ways to navigate to a piece of information. Therefore, you need to understand the principles of information architecture, which deal with the flow of information and how effective the user finds it. “It’s a lot more than deciding Ôthis is blue or red’ or Ôthe button goes here or there,’ but whether there needs to be a button, what the button will do, and how it will function,” says one Web art director. “For instance, if it’s a shopping site, what is the ideal e-commerce experience for the user? What information must consumers fill out and in what order if they want to purchase something?” During the actual design process, a Web art director can spend many hours on their computer designing the content and functionality according to plan. One Web art director sums up his work like this: “I sit in front of my computer 90 percent of the day, trying to figure out what stuff’s going to look like and what the best interface is to create the best user experience.” The job is very team-oriented, more so than other print design work. Because Web-site development is so complex, one person can’t be an expert in all the necessary disciplines of design, information architecture, and programming. Thus, a Web art director works closely with a variety of different people on a day-to-day basis, as well as throughout all phases of the project. An art director’s core computer programs consist of Photoshopª, Illustrator ª, and Freehandª. Flashª is also good to know, as is Macromedia Directorª. 3D programs are a nice shiny bonus. “Gain as much technical knowledge as you can without sacrificing basic design. If you have a choice between a technical class and a design class, go for the design,” recommends one art director.