How to become a professional web designer.

Pop quiz: What do your favorite social media platform, news site, and online store have in common?

If you answered that they were all created by web designers, you’re correct.

Whether it’s a website for ecommerce, news, a magazine, or social media, each of the platforms in question has been carefully designed by talented individuals. As more and more of the economy relies on digital experiences, the demand for web designers has skyrocketed — and it shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

What makes web design so appealing as a career? It’s an incredibly flexible option for creative individuals. It’s something you can do from home or in an office, and the companies and industries hiring web designers are extremely diverse. There’s a good chance that no matter what sector you want to work in, a web design career exists.

Furthermore, web design doesn’t require a specialized degree. If you’ve got an eye for color theory, an understanding of layout, and an affinity for code, there are a number of paths you can take to become a web designer.

If this sounds like a really fun and rewarding job, you’ve probably got questions about how to enter the field. Read on to learn more.

Understanding web design.

What does a web designer do, exactly? Web designers create the visual elements, layout, and back-end architecture of a website. Most of their work is typically done in apps like Adobe Photoshop and Figma. You might sometimes hear the terms web designer and web developer used interchangeably. While professionals in these two roles collaborate closely, their jobs and skillsets differ.

Web designers focus on the visual and aesthetic aspects of a website. Their jobs involve:
  • Creating the layout, typography, color  schemes, and overall visual appearance of a website
  • Practicing user interface (UI) design, which determines how users interact with a website
  • Knowledge of graphic design principles, usability, and some user experience (UX) design
  • The use of graphic design software, prototyping tools, and wireframing tools
  • Front-end development (client-side) and back-end development (server-side).
    • Front-end development focuses on creating the user interface, interactivity, and responsiveness using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
    • Back-end development involves server-side programming, database management, and server configuration.
  • Coding and programming to bring web designs to life
  • Knowledge of programming languages, frameworks, content management systems (CMS), and databases
  • The use of tools like code editors, version control systems, and development frameworks.
Being a web designer requires more than just design savvy. Web design is a collaborative process requiring you to work with team members from various departments. Together, you’ll gather information about a particular client’s needs and vision for their site, and you’ll support your team with your expertise in responsive design or optimization for different devices and screen sizes.  

The path to becoming a web designer.

As a prospective web designer you have many different ways to learn the basics of the field.

Education and self-learning.

Many aspiring web designers take the self-taught approach, using resources like YouTube tutorials and online courses to learn the fundamentals. This is an especially good approach for people who want to change careers midstream and don’t have the time or money to dedicate to traditional study. 

Learning web design basics.

However you plan on entering the field, you need to start with the basics. While many apps require significantly less coding experience than in the past, it’s still important to know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Each one of these coding languages performs different tasks related to web design:

  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) defines the structure and content of a web page.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) controls the presentation and layout of a web page.
  • JavaScript adds interactivity and dynamic behavior to a web page.

A basic understanding of web design principles and UI fundamentals is essential for creating successful websites. Well-designed websites that adhere to best practices engage users and deliver the following benefits:

Webdesign courses and certifications.

If self-directed learning isn’t for you, structured courses from reputable platforms and institutions like Coursera, Udemy, and Codecademy can help you learn the basics of web design and how to write code that makes websites run. 

Professional certifications in industry-leading apps can give you an edge over the competition and prove that you’re committed to professional growth. For example, becoming an Adobe Certified Professional in Web Design enables you to demonstrate to hiring managers that you’re skilled in the use of design apps like Photoshop, Adobe Dreamweaver, and Animate.

Building a portfolio.

Building a high-quality, professional portfolio is another way you can showcase your depth of knowledge, breadth of work, and skill level. If you haven’t already established yourself as a web designer, you’ll need to do one of two things:

  • Create personal projects.
  • Take on freelance work or internships to gain practical experience.

Creating personal projects

Personal projects are a great way to build your portfolio. You can build websites to showcase your own hobbies and interests just as easily as you can make them for fictional businesses.

Freelancing and internships

One possible approach to building your portfolio is to become a freelancer, which is easier than you might think. Networking is a great way to start your freelancing career. You can attend workshops, industry events, and meetups in your area. Establishing relationships with your professional peers may help you find internship opportunities or even a mentor.

Design agencies, marketing firms, and other companies are other good sources of potential freelance work. They often have more work than they can handle, and they establish relationships with reliable freelance contractors to manage the workload. By researching and reaching out to companies you know or admire, you may find some fruitful opportunities. You can also create a profile on Behance to showcase your work and make it easier for potential clients to find you.

Finally, consider applying for web design internships.Most popular job boards (e.g., Behance, Monster, Indeed, and LinkedIn) include internship positions. Regularly monitor these boards for new postings and apply to as many as you can that fit your criteria. Whatever you do, just be sure that your efforts align with your creative freelancing goals.

How to excel in web design.

Although the role might seem highly specialized, a successful video editor has a range of skill sets.

Advance your technical and design skills.

Building your HTML, CSS,and JavaScript skills can help you  develop more creative designs. Stay abreast of developments in these languages to make it easier to work with developers. In addition, keep growing your skills in design apps like Figma and Sketch. Consider taking online courses or tutorials, attending professional development conferences, and subscribing to industry publications like Smashing Magazine. You can also join design communities on social media channels like LinkedIn and Facebook.

Improve core skills.

Even if you primarily work alone as a web designer, it’s important to develop core skills like communication, organization, and time management so you can work successfully with clients and web developers.

Effective communication and collaboration.

Good communication reduces the risk of misinterpretation, which can lead to costly revisions and sourced relationships. Make sure you can speak to your abilities, express your point of view, and reinforce client expectations to keep projects moving forward. 

Excellent client collaboration helps build trust and leads to better long-term partnerships. Focus on active listening, document decisions, and establish a regular cadence of check-ins to ensure progress.

Time management and project organization.

Web design involves managing multiple projects and deadlines at once. If you haven’t invested in a tool to help you stay on top of projects and due dates, do so today. Not sure where to start? We have one we can recommend.

Web design careers.

Since web designers can work in so many different industries, there are many career paths and opportunities for professional growth. You can start out as a freelance designer, find your first role in an agency environment, or work at a fast-paced startup or more established company. 

Many web designers specialize in the area they like best, whether that’s front-end development, ecommerce, or UX design. 

Salaries for web designers are on the rise. Depending on your technical skills, experience, industry, and location, you can make anywhere from $60,000 to upwards of $150,000 per year. Check U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website for the most up-to-date information.  

By dedicating yourself to professional excellence and continuous learning, you can create a rewarding career in web design.

Frequently asked questions

Summary – This section will answer frequently asked questions about “How to become a Web Designer.”

What skills do you need to become a web designer?

You need a few basic skills ranging from technical knowledge of HTML and CSS to a good eye for visual design principles, including layout, color theory, typography, and visual hierarchy.

Can you become a web designer without a degree?

Web designers have more tools than ever to learn the skills necessary to thrive in their jobs. Adobe certification can help you explore the necessary tools of the trade, including Adobe Creative Cloud apps,and resources like W3C Schools can help you learn the technical elements of code that make websites work.

How long does it take to become a web designer?

The time commitment varies based on how you approach learning, such as whether you take part-time courses or pursue a bachelor’s degree. Self-taught designers might take longer to grasp the concepts as they practice. 

What tools do I need to design websites?

Web designers use many different tools, ranging from Photoshop and Dreamweaver to Figma

Are there web designc ertifications that can help my career growth?

In addition to Adobe certifications that specialize in web design and associated apps, you can pursue certifications through companies like Google and organizations like the International Association of Accessibility Professionals.

More questions?

Become an Adobe Certified Professional.

Certification is more accessible than ever before. Schedule an online exam or visit a Certiport Authorized Testing Center to showcase your skills.