Career Development

How to Become a Web Designer in 8 Steps

April 2, 2021

A career in web design requires creativity as well as technical skills. Web designers need technical proficiency to create functional websites, but they also need artistic skills and aesthetic sensibility to create a pleasing user experience. If you are both creative and technical, you might want to consider the field of web design. In this article, we explain what web designers do, how to become one and answers to frequently asked questions about this role.

What does a web designer do?

A web designer builds, or designs, all the elements of a website. They choose and create the visual aspects of a website, such as graphics, font, colors and layout. They are responsible for making websites aesthetically appealing as well as functional and user-friendly.

Web designers need a combination of creativity, critical thinking and technical skills to perform well in their role. They also must have business management skills to attract and manage clients if they are freelancers.

Related: Learn About Being a Web Designer

Average web designer salary

Web designers may work full-time for a business or agency, but are often freelancers who work for multiple clients at a time. The average salary for web designers in the U.S. is $22.27 per hour.

How to become a web designer

If you are interested in pursuing a career as a web designer, try following these steps:

  1. Develop the necessary skills.
  2. Earn certifications.
  3. Create a website.
  4. Search for jobs.
  5. Build your portfolio.
  6. Market yourself.
  7. Consider specializing.
  8. Stay updated.

1. Develop the necessary skills

To become a web designer, you need to be proficient in the technical aspects of building websites. While you can earn a college degree to pursue web design—such as an associate or bachelor's degree in computer programming or graphic design—many web designers are self-taught. There are subject-specific courses available online that you can use to develop your skills. The most necessary skills for being a web designer include:

Graphic software

Web designers use a variety of programs—such as Photoshop—to facilitate creating graphics for websites. Become familiar with these programs through research, practice or classes.

Programming languages

Most web designers need at least some knowledge of basic programming languages, such as HTML, CSS, PHP, jQuery, JavaScript and Flash. Freelancers need more coding knowledge, while web designers employed with an agency will likely work on a team that includes programmers and graphic designers.

Search engine optimization

Understanding SEO techniques will help a web designer create sites that appear prominently when users search for certain keywords or topics.

Web design theory

There are certain foundational principles for creating excellent websites, such as structure, user experience and color theory. If you don't attend college, you can still study this theory on your own by reading books on the subject or doing research online.

Communication skills

Web designers need excellent communication skills to understand a client's needs and wants, correctly implement the client's desires and suggest their own ideas for a site.

2. Earn certifications

Obtaining certifications in certain areas can help you learn skills, boost your resume, charge a higher rate and prove your knowledge to potential clients. Some of the common certifications for web designers to earn include:

Adobe Certified Expert

Many of the tools used by designers are made by Adobe, so this is a respected certification. You can become an ACE in a variety of programs. Each certification requires a course and exam.

General Assembly Bootcamp

General Assembly offers a variety of Bootcamp courses in areas like digital marketing, web development, mobile app development, user experience and JavaScript. Each course is taught by industry professionals and offered both online or in-person.

Google Mobile Web Specialist

This certification from Google demonstrates your web development skills for mobile apps. The exam covers topics such as accessibility, performance optimization, mobile web forms and progressive web applications. Google provides a free study guide to help you prepare for the exam, which you can attempt three times.

3. Create a website

When you have the necessary skills, create your own website. This site should showcase your skills to potential clients and be your professional home page where interested clients can find your abilities, availability and rates.

Update your website regularly to accurately introduce yourself, demonstrate your knowledge of trends and explain your web designer experience.

4. Search for jobs

Begin your web design career by performing web design jobs to add to your site and portfolio and gain experience so you can earn more clients. You can search for job listings online if you want to work for an agency or use freelancing platforms to bid for opportunities.

Related: Browse Web Designer Jobs

5. Build your portfolio

As you gain clients, create websites and become more experienced, keep an updated portfolio of your work and skills. Include examples of your work, positive client feedback and a list of your design capabilities. You should have a version of the portfolio that you can email to potential clients and also keep the portfolio updated on your personal website.

6. Market yourself

If you want to be a freelance web designer, your success will depend partly on your ability to market yourself as well as your skills. While keeping your personal website and portfolio updated is a good start, find additional ways to make yourself known in the design community and to potential clients.

Use social media and professional profiles to increase your visibility. You can communicate with other web designers online to stay updated on industry news and job opportunities. Build positive relationships with your clients to ensure their repeat business and ask them to recommend you, and attend networking events to continue to develop your contacts.

Related: Become a Networking Expert in 7 Steps

7. Consider specializing

If you focus on a particular niche of website design, you may be able to earn recognition for your skills and gain more clients. Consider specializing in a certain area of web design, such as sites for e-commerce, mobile apps or sites for specific types of businesses.

8. Stay updated

Web design is a constantly evolving field, as technology changes frequently, new design methods are created and consumer needs change. Keep learning, practicing and developing your skills to remain current in your industry and prove to clients that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to build websites that fill their needs.

Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about being a web designer:

Is being a web designer an in-demand job?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field is projected to grow by 13% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than average.

What is the work environment of a web designer?

Web designers typically work full-time, regular business hours. They may work independently or for a computer systems design company. They frequently spend long hours sitting, using a computer and using other office equipment. They also meet with clients to discuss their services.

What is the difference between a web designer and a web developer?

Web developers create the foundational aspects of a website by using complicated coding and programming languages. Web designers focus more on the creative, visual and user experience elements of a website.

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