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How to Become a Web Designer: Everything You Need to Know

How to Become a Web Designer: Everything You Need to Know

Last updated: July 24, 2019
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If you consider yourself tech-savvy, you might want to think about how to become a web designer. As more companies realize the importance of having a quality website, web development has become an increasingly relevant part of doing business.

To help you gain web designing skills (or put your current skills to use), this article has everything you need to know about becoming a successful web designer ⁠— from what the job entails to how much money you can make to all the ins and outs of the industry.

Web Design and Why It’s Important

Web design is rather straightforward — it’s everything that goes into the planning and creation of a website. According to the online tech dictionary Tech Terms, web design “is the process of creating websites. It encompasses several different aspects, including webpage layout, content production, and graphic design.”

Many people often use the terms web design and web development interchangeably. However, web design is technically just one part of the broader industry known as web development, which also includes things such as database management.

Web designers focus explicitly on designing interfaces using HTML (the Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Web designers tend to work more on front-end development, while web developers tend to work more on back-end progress.

So why is web design so important? More businesses are recognizing how vital a website is to the overall perception of their business as well as the user experience.

For instance, web marketing company Blue Corona found that nearly 50% of people surveyed said that a website’s design is the number one factor in determining how credible a business is. The survey also found that 38% of people would stop engaging with a website if they considered it unattractive.

Furthermore, smartphones are more popular now than ever before. According to Pew Research, more than five billion people have mobile devices, half of which are smartphones. While on their phones, people visit mobile versions of websites.

Between December 2013 and December 2015, smartphone internet consumption increased by nearly 80%. Further research shows that about 60% of all internet access is done through a phone and that 72% of smartphone users want mobile-friendly websites.

Even businesses with sleek traditional websites now realize the importance of having a mobile-friendly site as well. This translates to more job opportunities for those with design skills. It’s also one of the primary reasons why website design is so crucial.

Job Outlook for Web Designers (and Developers)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t provide specific information for web designers. Instead, it provides an all-encompassing job outlook for web developers, which includes designers. And the future looks bright. The site indicates that the job outlook between 2016 and 2026 is expected to grow by 15%, which is much faster than average. Because of this expected job growth, entering a career in web design could be worthwhile if you have the proper technical skills.

How Much Are Web Designers Paid?

The BLS indicates that the median pay for web designers in 2018 was $69,430 per year. This breaks down to $33.38 per hour. Freelance web designers who work from home tend to charge higher rates between $40 and $100 per hour, depending on their experience and design work portfolio. However, it’s worth noting that as a freelancer, the entire tax burden is your responsibility. This is different from working as an employee, where your company pays half of your taxes and you pay the other half.

What Skills Are Needed?

How to become a web designer entails learning some basic coding

If you’d like to design websites, you need both technical and non-technical skills. One of the essential web design skills you’ll need is visual design. You must know how to analyze a website to determine its look and feel. You’ll need to understand basic visual design principles, such as:

  • Proportions
  • Typography
  • Grid systems
  • Color theory

You’ll also need to grasp the basics of UX design. UX stands for user experience. Web designers put themselves in the shoes of the target audience to create a user experience that keeps people active and engaged on the site.

UX design involves creating a site map to navigate the website as if you were the customer, which is one of the most critical aspects of the design process.

Furthermore, web designers need to know how to use design software as well as the right tools ⁠— think Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Sketch. These tools will help you create mock-ups for websites.

As previously mentioned, web designers also need to know the HTML and CSS programming languages. Furthermore, many web designers also find it useful to learn JavaScript. JavaScript is a programming language that lets you make a site much more interactive, replacing elements that would otherwise be static.

In addition to these technical skills, you’ll also need a “soft” skill set. For instance, web designers need to have strong communication skills since they spend so much time working with clients. Web designers need to understand precisely what a client is looking for. You also need to be able to pitch project ideas.

Web designers should have strong time management skills. Not only do you need to ensure that a site looks good, but you also want to make sure it functions properly. This means you always give yourself plenty of time to complete and test the project.

It’s also worth knowing search engine optimization (SEO) techniques as a web designer. Some people (such as a graphic designer) might overlook this marketing-based skill. However, SEO is one of the best ways to help a website stand out and attract new readers. Including these principles in the design of a website will go a long way toward ensuring its success.

How to Become a Web Designer

Man working at desk with dual computer screens

With a bit of hard work and patience, you can pick up many of the skills needed to learn web design.

First and foremost, if you’re a student, you’ll want to consider studying computer science. The BLS says that an associate’s degree should suffice for a position as a web developer. However, the industry standard now seems to be that a bachelor’s degree is the bare minimum.

Secondly, you can look online for various training courses that can give you with the skills and training necessary to become a web designer. For instance, sites like Udemy and Codecademy can offer some of the technical skills needed for the job.

Once you’ve acquired these skills, you’ll need to put them into practice. As a web designer, one of the most critical things for you to have is a portfolio. Even if you’ve yet to secure any clients, you can begin building mock-up websites that allow you to display your design skills. Perhaps you can find an outdated website, redesign it, and then pitch the new website design to the business.

When it comes to web design, your experience and portfolio tend to matter more than your degree. It’s entirely possible for you to have studied in a field other than computer science, only to shift gears years later when looking for a remote job.

As a freelancer, you can train yourself and compile a portfolio that displays your skills. All it takes is for one prospective customer to be impressed with your work for you to get started.

Even if you don’t have any experience working with computers, it’s never too late to begin your new career.

Work From Home as a Web Designer

How to become a web designer: You should have both hard skills and soft skills

If you’d like to work from home instead of working at an office, the good news is that there are opportunities to make that happen. You’ll want to follow the same process as you would for working at an office, except that you can either look for a full-time remote position or opt to be a freelance web designer who takes on a la carte clients.

Now that you know how to become a web designer, you might  be inspired to learn more about other web-related opportunities such as how to become a freelance developer. Whatever you decide, it’ll be exciting to make a living and put your computer skills to good use.

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