How to Become a Web Designer

So you’re interested in becoming a web designer but have no idea how to get started. Or maybe you’re even one step behind that—the idea of being a web designer sounds fascinating, but you don’t actually know what a web designer is. 

To seriously consider making a career switch to web design, or choosing to pursue web design in your educational studies, it might be helpful to have answers to some of the questions that currently hold you back in your pursuit towards this lucrative career. 

What is a web designer? What does a web designer do? What is the average salary for a web designer? Why should I become a web designer? How can I become a web designer? All of these questions will play into your decision and will help you understand the process to becoming a web designer. Continue reading to find out how you can start your career in one of the top growing industries today.

What is a web designer?

To become a Web Designer it's not necessary to be a good in drawing.

Web designers are both technical and creative experts; not only do they build the foundation of a website, but they are also in charge of designing the content so it is aesthetically pleasing to consumers. Additionally, web designers must create content that drives business goals. 

Skilled designers understand that the user experience on a website should feel intuitive and natural; therefore, they work especially hard to make their designs feel this way. Professionals in the industry should have a background in web design theory, know the best practices within for successful web design and should have a foundational understanding of overall web design.

Though web design sounds interesting and fun, learning to be successful in the field is a complex and dynamic process. Web designers must understand the following questions in order to design a website that meets all of the company’s needs as well as the desires of the consumers. 

Questions web designers ask themselves when starting a project.

  1. What is the audience of the website? How does the audience affect the look, feel and design of the page?
  2. What necessary information should be included on the website? 
  3. What is the client’s brand? How will that affect the website content?
  4. What are the goals of the business? How best can the design of a site drive home these goals?

What is the difference between web design and web development?

Web developers are in charge of building the technical backend of a website. Developers study coding languages, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, C++ and others. Web designers focus on the frontend experience on a website; though having a basic understanding of some coding languages is helpful, web designers rarely have an in-depth knowledge of code, unless they specialize in design and development.

Skills web designers should have or pursue.

When it comes to being a successful web designer, it’s important to have a strong understanding of the following skills and industries.

  1. User experience (UX/UI) design. Understanding user experience aids web designers in delivering a website design which considers the quality of the user experience.
  2. Graphic design. In addition to delivering an aesthetically pleasing user interface, web designers also incorporate fonts, colors and other design elements into a website design. Having a background in graphic design will lead to a more robust understanding of the best way to incorporate design elements into a project.
  3. Sales and marketing conversion. In order to help a company meet its objectives and sell products or services, a web designer should be familiar with the sales conversion funnel, as well as how design elements play into getting sales.
  4. Digital marketing. In addition to understanding how to convert customers, a web designer should understand the basic principles of search engine optimization, copywriting and marketing. Again, understanding digital marketing will help you to work cohesively with the company to create a design which leads to sales.
  5. Web development. Not all web designers also code the backend of a website. However, for those who want to be most successful at web design, it is helpful to have at least some understanding of the coding process. HTML, CSS and JavaScript are great starting points for a web designer. PHP, jQuery, Flash and other coding knowledge is a plus as well.

Though having at least a shallow understanding of each of these sections will be beneficial, web designers often specialize and gain a deeper understanding of some of these principles over others. Regardless, starting out with a solid foundation in the above sections will help a web designer to find out what they are most interested in and how to specialize further.

What does a web designer do?

Some web designers write code.

The day-to-day of a web designer depends on who the designer works for. Some web designers work for themselves, while others work for an agency or in-house for a specific company. 

Freelance web design

Freelance web designers have the most flexibility as well as the most responsibility, depending on how many clients the freelancer works with. As a freelancer, you have the ability to choose how much you charge, at what time during the day you work and where you clock your hours. However, work may not always be consistent, depending on the amount of clients you consistently work with. Additionally, when you choose to freelance, you not only manage your projects but also your personal business and brand. 

Agency web design

Working for an agency provides consistent work, a variety of clients to work with and a regular paycheck. The specifics of working for an agency depend heavily on the agency you work, the way the structure their business and the clients they work with. Working for an agency typically brings with it a fast-paced learning environment, as well as plenty of opportunity for growth.

In-house web design

In-house web design for a company involves consistently working for the same brand, good pay and slower deadlines. Because you work for only one client, the work environment tends to be slower paced; however, this is often dependent on the specific company you are working for, as well as how far up you are in the company structure.

Why should I become a web designer?

Skilled web designers are in high demand.

As technology and the internet continue to grow and influence our everyday lives, so does the need to fill more job roles in the internet and technology industries. Web design happens to be one of these roles; the demand for web design continues to grow, and it does not look like there will be a stop to that growth for the foreseeable future. 

According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the web design field should grow by 13% between 2018 to 2028. This is significantly higher than the 5% average for other fields.

Flexible work hours.

Web design often allows immense flexibility in terms of where you can work and what times you can work. This is especially true if you choose to freelance your skills as a web designer. Freelancers have the flexibility to arrange their work schedule around family and personal commitments. 

No formal education required.

Although there are many universities offering courses for web design, it is rarely a requirement to have formal education in this field. More often than not, employers are looking for experience over education. If you can prove that you have the capability to web design, then your likelihood of getting a job is high. However, taking online courses and certifications through platforms like Coursera can help you set a foundation in the web design industry.

You can also start web designing as a side hustle without having to quit your full-time gig. Doing so will lead to foundational knowledge in the field, which will eventually allow you to transition to a full-time web designer position, if desired.

What is an average salary in web design?

Web design can be an extremely lucrative career to pursue. The average web designer makes $73,000 which breaks down to about $35 per hour. This is one of the highest paying jobs which you can learn fully online, as well as one of the highest paying remote jobs.

How to be successful as a web designer

Design tables are great tools for some professionals, but not necessary for your to learn how to become a web designer.

1. Learn how to market yourself.

To get your name out there and get a job or freelance gig, you must create a name for yourself within the industry. A great way to get started here is to show off the work you’ve already completed; make an online portfolio that houses your best website designs. Not sure how to make a killer portfolio for yourself? Check out the following 20 memorable web design portfolio examples for inspiration. Additionally, build out a killer resume. Now that you’ve shown off your visual capabilities through your portfolio, verbalize the skills you’ve developed over time in your resume.

2. Continually learn and evolve over time.

The best web designers never stop learning. Because web design is such a dynamic and ever-evolving industry, it is important to read up on industry changes, new best practices and trends within web design. 

3. Cultivate skill in time management.

This is especially important if you work as a freelance designer or for an agency. When the work piles up quickly, it is important to know how to best manage your time and effectively knock out the projects in your queue. A great way to get better at time management is to keep a to-do list. Prioritize your projects in terms of importance; stay on top of marking projects off once you’ve completed them. Additionally, schedule your to-dos, meetings and other responsibilities into a calendar. Doing so will help you manage when you can work on specific projects.

4. Create your own website.

If you don’t currently have a job as a web designer, or want to start up your freelancing hustle, design a website. Doing so will put your skills to the test and will give you actual experience to add to your portfolio and resume.

5. Develop a niche.

Maybe you’re most interested in designing websites for a specific industry or niche within web design. While you are cultivating your skill in the industry, do some research into the types of web design you are most interested in. Focus your effort on developing any specific skills to be most successful in your niche. If you want to have a more general understanding of web design, that’s okay too. It’s likely that you will develop and gain interest in particular industries later in your web design career.

How to become a web designer

To start a successful career in the web design industry, take time to review all of the sections above. Can you answer the following questions now?

  1. What is web design?
  2. What skills should web designers have?
  3. What does a web designer do?
  4. Why should I become a web designer?
  5. What is the average salary in web design?
  6. How can I be successful as a web designer?

If so, now it’s time to teach yourself how to be a web designer through relevant online courses.

Learn how to web design online.

Though many universities around the world offer in-person web design majors, you do not have to actually attend school to find success in this field. There are a variety of online options which will also lead to success in web design. To explore different type of designers beyond “Web”, read our Definitive Guide to Becoming a Designer.

In addition to online courses and degrees through universities, websites like Coursera, an online platform used to earn professional certificates, is a great springboard to starting on your path to web design. Starting with online courses like these will get you a foot into the web design world.