Put simply, the job of a web designer is to design websites. This does not mean programming in the sense of writing software, however, there can be some programming knowledge necessary. A web designer is an individual that lies out and designs the look and functionality of a website in conjunction with the developers and clients.
A good web designer knows all aspects of web development. This does not mean they need to be an expert programmer, this means that basic understanding will assist them in doing their part of building a website. A good tune-up mechanic knows how an engine works but this does not mean he is going to take it apart and change a piston.
A web designer is well versed in the use of HTML programming and how this relates to website design. The ability to write code allows the designer to make the website more functional and user friendly. The use of CSS is also a very desirable skill to have when designing websites.
The need for a background in graphic design will also arise with this career choice. The ability to not only make the website functional but good looking on top of that is something that all potential clients will be interested in. No one wants to visit a bare bones website; they want visuals and lots of them.
All good web designers should have training in computer graphics packages such as Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Paint Shop Pro. The designer should also be comfortable working with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems as the web pages will need to be viewed by both. With all the advances in technology, one will need constant retraining on the newest and greatest software available, to stay ahead of the rest of the market.
Beyond all of the actual programming and technical work, there are the clients and what they want. One of the main duties of a web designer is to bring the clients vision of their companies website to life. This must be done in a way that is acceptable to the client and not just the vision of the designer as the client is the one paying for it after all.
By working closely with the client, the need for interpersonal skills along with diplomacy comes into play. While what the client wants may not be possible, they are not going to want to hear that. It is the job of the designer to make the clients dream come true while not stretching the reality of what may be accomplished online.