Web designers are responsible for creating beautiful, clean, and responsive sites that we use every day. Whether you’re on the train scrolling through Facebook or catching up with the news during your lunch break, talented web designers are behind everything you see.

The role requires an impressive mix of skills. You’ll need technical know-how, excellent social skills, and a positive attitude to succeed.

If you’re set on a future career in web design, we’re here to help you get started. We’ll cover how you can learn all the necessary skills required to become a well-paid web designer at a top tech company.

What is Web Design?

Web design entails the development and maintenance of websites, apps and software. It focuses on front-end elements such as user interface (UI) design, user experience (UX) design, graphic design, branding, layout, structure, and content. Web designers usually have strong visual skills and an eye for detail. They’re masters of creating stunning designs with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

The back-end of a website is usually handled by a separate professional and includes the functional aspects of a site. Server configuration, database design, and anything that operates behind the scenes is generally not the responsibility of the web designer.

Types of Web Designers

It’s important to understand the different specializations that exist in the field of web design. This should help you identify your areas of interest and plot your ideal career path. Here’s a list of the most common type of web designers:

WordPress Specialist: WordPress is a popular open-source content management system (CMS) built in PHP. A staggering 35% of all online sites now use WordPress. So, if you can master it, you’ll always be in high demand. WordPress specialists understand PHP and MySQL. They’re able to create custom themes and plugins to meet client requirements.

Graphic Designer: These professionals focus on fundamental design principles. They’re often artistic and experts at using graphic design tools such as Adobe Photoshop or Webflow. Graphic designers are less experienced in front-end languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They’ll often need to work alongside a more technical web designer to build a site.

Full-Stack Developer: Also known as a web developer, full-stack developers have an all-round understanding of building websites. They’re able to work on both the front-end and back-end. They’re experts in several programming languages including PHP, Python, Ruby, NodeJS, and JavaScript. Full-stack developers also have good graphic design skills. They often prefer to build sites from the ground up rather than use a CMS.

Hard Skills Needed to Become a Web Designer

Web design requires both hard and soft skills. Let’s first look at the technical know-how required to make it in this field:

Visual Design: The web is a highly visual place. Possessing visual design skills is essential to become a successful web designer. Visual elements include color, layout, logo, images, videos, animations, fonts, and headings. The visual design of a website must align with the company brand.

Front-End Languages: Front-end technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the fundamental languages of web design. Web designers are expected to at least possess basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. Proficiency in JavaScript is also helpful for those who would like to transition into web development roles.

SEO: Web designers aren’t expected to be masters of search engine optimization, but they should understand the basics. They need to consider on-page SEO concepts such as title tags, meta tags, keywords, breadcrumb navigation, and SEO-friendly URLs when designing sites.

Design Tools: Web designers should have proficiency in tools like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Sketch. These tools are used to create product mockups and enhance images and logos.

Responsive Design: The internet is now viewed through many different devices. Responsive design is the process of ensuring sites appear correctly on various screen sizes. Due to the popularity of mobile browsing, dynamic web pages must adjust automatically to provide the best user experience.

Content Management Systems: A CMS allows easier management of website content. Examples of popular CMS platforms include WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Magento. These systems speed up the process of adding and updating content to sites. They handle many of the back-end tasks automatically so are perfect for less technical web designers.

Soft Skills Needed to Become a Web Designer

Apart from technical skills, soft skills are also required to become a web designer. Here’s a list of the main soft skills needed:

Communication: Web designers interact regularly with clients, team members, and managers. Possessing good verbal and written communication skills is extremely important.

Flexibility: Web design is a very dynamic role. The client’s needs can change quickly. You’ll need to adapt efficiently and keep an open mind.

Awareness: You should be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t claim to be an expert in something you’re not. Identify how you can improve and be honest with yourself. Continually work on your weaknesses.

Time Management: Web design often requires working on several projects under strict deadlines. You should prioritize your work accordingly to meet deadlines.

How to Learn Web Design Skills

You can land an entry-level web design job by obtaining a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related subject. Traditionally degrees were the most common choice for aspiring web designers. But now, degrees aren't really necessary. Employers are starting to prioritize candidates with relevant skills and experience over formal education.

As a degree isn’t actually required to get started in web design, many students are opting for alternative, more affordable programs.

Enroll in a Bootcamp: A web design bootcamp is a new form of education that’s proving successful among students. Unlike degrees, bootcamps offer an up-to-date curriculum designed by industry professionals. The courses are laser-focused and only teach students what they actually need to land a web design job. This makes them faster and more affordable.

Bootcamps are suitable for both beginners and working professionals that want to refresh their skills. Graduates gain hands-on learning and teamwork experience that can often be missing from traditional degree programs.

If you’re interested in fast-tracking your tech career, enroll in our web design bootcamp and learn how to perform customer research, build wireframes and improve user flow in just a few months.

Get Certified: Certifications look great on your resume and demonstrate to prospective employers that you’re up-to-date on the latest industry trends. Certificates are also a great way to show you’re committed to the role and will help you stand out from the crowd.

Each learning path has advantages and disadvantages. For a comprehensive in-depth study of tech subjects, degrees are perfect. However, they take up to 4 years to complete and cost around $130,000 in tuition fees. If you know exactly what career you want, a bootcamp is a better option. You can learn all the skills necessary and get hired in less than a year, for a fraction of the cost.

Once you’ve gained the required skills, it’s almost time to start looking for your dream web design job. But first, there are a few more tasks to take care of.

A professional portfolio showcases your skills and demonstrates to prospective employers what you’re capable of. You can create your own personal website to host your portfolio. Start with any school projects or things you’ve worked on in your spare time. If you’re lacking examples, you can take on some freelance work to get started. Use sites like UpWork and Freelancer.com to find small, basic projects.

You should also build your professional network using platforms like LinkedIn. You can find like-minded professional communities to share ideas and build business relationships. Networking can not only improve your skills but lead directly to recommendations and job opportunities.

You’ll also need a resume before you start applying for jobs. Make sure you have a strong resume highlighting your achievements, skills, projects, and courses undertaken. A good resume with a powerful headline and a great cover letter is a key part of the hiring process. Read our post on writing a stand-out web designer resume for a detailed guide.

The Typical Career Path of a Web Designer

Initially, you’ll start as a web designer. Once you’ve proven your ability to generate fresh ideas and work with the rest of the designers, then after 4-5 years of experience, you’ll be promoted to a senior web designer. You’ll now be responsible for the entire visual design and may even lead a team.

Some of you may transition to the role of UX designer. You’ll look at web design from the user’s perspective to add value by maximizing the user experience.

Technical web designers who learn programming skills along the way can become full-stack developers. Eventually, you could climb your way to a lead developer, or even a technical director.

Take the First Step

Web design is an in-demand role with a range of career options. If you have a passion for design and love all things tech, a future in web design is a great choice. You can expect an above-average salary, work-from-home opportunities, and a job that both challenges and rewards you.

It’s no surprise that it requires many different skills to get started in this field. To fast-track your web design career, consider enrolling in our UX/UI bootcamp to learn everything you need. And we make sure your education pays off in the form of a great job: our expert career coaches will support you throughout the course and beyond.

Launch Your UX Design Career

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