One of three things, usually.

Someone who is (in decreasing order of importance, sorda) proficient with HTML, CGI programming (C, C++, Servelets, Perl, Python, etc.), Java, SQL and RDBMS, perhaps XML, JavaScript, various databasing systems (other than SQL and RDBMS), much of the TCP/IP suite of protocols (at least how to use them, if not how to implement them also), and familiar with DNS. They must also be artistically inclined, or at least understand how to make a pleasant looking website.

Someone who's proficient with HTML, maybe does a little CGI. They have their own website, they'll make you one if you pay them about as much as someone listed above sometimes. Less than 50% could go into the catagory above this one but would rather do other things or don't have the required talent and time. More than 50% are more towards the next catagory which is ...

Someone who made a website with no less than 3 frames and 10 animated gifs on the first page. They know how to use a WYSIWYG editor if they get lots of help. Some dip into HTML but most would rather not or wouldn't know how. None of this is to say that their sites don't contain interesting or relavent content though. Some aspire to higher levels but have other things they're much more interested in. Most people inthis catagory either go up to the next one or just drop the whole website thing -- it was just a fad anyway to them.
A good web designer is willing to work on a page for months and then not get any credit for his work.
You cannot insist on putting you name all over the page to get credit for your work.

A good web designer has the capabilities to write the complicated javascripts and use CSS, but will often stick to making simple pages using basic HTML.
Often time a simple line of text with font tags around it will look much better than a graphic you spent hours making.

If you insist on a fast download time as a priority on all of you pages then you are on the right track.

To be a good web designer you just have to be willing to spend so much time perfecting every little detail. You must do this to the point that you spent hours on a detail that will never be noticed. And that's what makes it good, the detail enhanced the page so well that its presence is taken for granted by the users and not noticed.

A truly good web designer will never be fully appreciated.

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