How To Become a Web Designer (With FAQ and Job Duties)

Updated July 14, 2023

Web designers help build websites by creating the layout and design for web pages. They determine visual elements that contribute to improving the user experience. If you're creative and tech-savvy, you may consider this career path.

In this article, we explain what web designers do, discover different types and the average salary, explore how to become a web designer and learn answers to frequently asked questions about this role.

What does a web designer do?

A web designer builds all the elements of a website, choosing and creating graphics, font, colors, layout and other visual elements. They're responsible for making websites aesthetically appealing, functional and user-friendly.

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

Read more: Learn About Being a Web Designer

Types of web designers

Below are descriptions of the different types of web designers:

Freelance web designers

Freelance web designers are people who do web design work but don't work for an agency or company. They often decide what projects they work on, when they work on those projects and how many projects they complete in a time period. They typically set their own hours and work from home.

Agency web designers

Agency web designers work for companies that specialize in web design, project management and skill sets. These agencies often form business-to-business contracts with their clients and have their web design team create a website or webpage for them. Web designers who work for agencies often work full-time and get benefits from the agency as part of their employment. As part of their duties, they may work with multiple clients on website-related projects.

In-house web designers

In-house web designers are people who work for a single company. These companies typically hire one or more web designers as full-time employees, giving them salaries and benefits like other employees at the company. Web designers who work in-house focus on creating, updating and maintaining the company's website or webpage. They almost always work on only the website or pages the company owns.

Average web designer salary

According to Indeed Salaries, web designers earn $49,492 per year on average. This can vary based on your experience, location, level of education and the specific company with which you work. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.

How to become a web designer

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

1. Develop the necessary skills

To become a web designer, it's necessary 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's 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. Some necessary skills for success in this role include:

  • Graphic software: Web designers use a variety of programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, to facilitate creating graphics for websites. Consider becoming familiar with these programs through research, practice or classes.

  • Programming languages: Most web designers have at least some knowledge of basic programming languages such as C++, C#, HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Freelancers may use more coding knowledge, while web designers who work with an agency may be on a team that includes programmers and graphic designers.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Understanding SEO techniques can 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 have excellent communication skills to understand a client's requirements to implement the client's desires and suggest their own ideas for a site.

Related: 12 Reasons To Consider Becoming a Web Designer

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 and courses for web designers to complete include:

  • Adobe Certified Expert (ACE): Adobe makes many of the tools designers use, so this is a respected certification. You can become an ACE in a variety of programs, and 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 and user experience. Senior industry employees teach each course and classes are offered both online and in person.

  • Adobe Web Authoring: Adobe also has other certifications you can pursue that employers want. Both the Adobe Certified Professional and Web Authoring Using Adobe Dreamweaver are certifications employers value.

Read more: 8 Web Design Certifications (With Descriptions and Details)

3. Create a website

When you have the necessary skills, consider creating your own website. This site can showcase your skills to potential clients and be your professional home page where interested clients can learn about your abilities, availability and rates. Update your website regularly to introduce yourself, demonstrate your knowledge of trends and explain your web designer experience.

Related: 10 Portfolio Website Builders (And Why They're Important)

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. When applying to jobs, you often need a resume, cover letter and examples of your work, so prepare these materials ahead of time.

Related: Guide: Using Job Search

5. Build your portfolio

As you gain clients, create websites and become more experienced, make sure to keep an updated portfolio of your work and skills. Include examples of your work, positive client feedback and a list of your design capabilities. Create 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 depends partly on your ability to market yourself. 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. If you want to specialize, consider showcasing work that reflects your specialty in your portfolio so you can get more clients in that niche.

Related: How To Find Your Niche in 5 Steps (Plus Tips and Benefits)

8. Stay updated

Web design is a constantly evolving field as technology, consumer requirements and design methods change. To maximize your chances of success, keep learning, practicing and developing your skills to remain current in your industry and to showcase that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to meet client requirements.

One way to do this is by reading industry magazines and subscribing to news blogs. It may also be useful to attend conferences and listen to experts in the field. Conferences are also a good place to meet other designers and network with other individuals.

Related: What Is Professional Development? Definition and Examples

Frequently asked questions

Is being a web designer an in-demand job?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field is projected to grow by 23% between 2021 and 2031, which is much faster than average. You may also consider other in-demand web development careers, such as being a user experience (UX) designer or front-end developer.

What is the work environment of a web designer?

Web designers typically work full-time business hours. They may work independently or for a computer systems design or marketing communication company. They frequently spend long hours sitting, using a computer and using other office equipment. They also meet with clients to discuss their services. Since they primarily work on a desktop, web designers can work from home.

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. Designers often design the website and then a developer can make buttons and code the site to function.

Please note that the companies mentioned in this article are not affiliated with Indeed.

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