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How to Become a Web Designer

Are your visual design skills exceptional? Are you tech-savvy and have stellar communication and presentation skills? A web designer could be a great choice for your next career move.

Web designers design, build, and enhance websites. They use their expertise in computer programming and their advanced graphic design skills to build websites that are easy to navigate and attract a target audience. Web designers must have excellent interpersonal and listening skills to understand and interpret a client’s goals and objectives and to turn their vision into reality. They need solid presentation skills as well. 

Web designers must have advanced knowledge of front-end web development languages, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They also must have a high level of proficiency in using graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Exceptional collaborative skills are a requirement for web designers as they work closely with clients, back-end developers, and other stakeholders to ensure websites meet standards, requirements, and branding expectations. To be successful as a web designer, you will need to stay current on web design trends and technologies. 

Sample job description

A web designer’s primary role is to design the overall look of a website, including the color scheme and layout. Web designers work closely with clients to translate their creative vision into an attractive, functional website. Some of their duties include coding the website’s navigation features, designing buttons and controls, creating and presenting mockups of websites to clients, removing dead links, maintaining the site, and backing up the website. [Your Company Name] is looking for a creative individual with excellent communication and collaboration skills, along with knowledge of coding and graphic design principles. Successful candidates will be fluent in HTML and XML, have an eye for detail, and be familiar with Adobe software.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Create Photoshop Documents (PSDs) for visual layout of web pages and convert each design into HTML and CSS
  • Maintain and update all JQuery plugins for websites
  • Implement and maintain high-quality SEO policies and incorporate them with content produced for the website
  • Remove any “dead” links immediately and respond to issues with site functionality
  • Create mock-ups for proposed project pages and update them as needed

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, graphic design, or a related field.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Knowledge of content marketing a plus
  • Proficiency with ASP.net web forms
  • Advanced Photoshop and Illustrator skills
  • Knowledge of WordPress standards and functionality
  • Professional portfolio with at least five designs for internal review

Preferred qualifications

  • Proficiency in JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and other program languages and applications
  • 1+ years of proficiency in WordPress & WordPress related applications
  • Proficiency in Google Web-based platforms

Typical work environment

Web designers typically work full time for businesses or for agencies. They work at a desk on a computer, sitting for much of their day. Some web designers get their own cubicle or office, while others work at companies with an open floor plan. Remote web design jobs are available, allowing the web designer to work from home. Most of the work a web designer does is individually, but they do have to meet with clients as well as work with other team members to design and develop all the working parts of a website. At times, a web designer may have to work evenings and weekends in order to meet tight deadlines. 

Typical hours

The typical work hours in an office setting for a web designer are usually from 9 AM to 5 PM. Additional work hours can be necessary when approaching project deadlines.

Available certifications

With the amount of business that takes place online, web designers are highly in demand. Many certifications exist to help you begin or further your career as a web designer.

  • CIW Web and Mobile Design Certifications. CIW offers 7 specialized certificates that will prepare you to work in today’s market as a web designer. The certifications cover HTML5 and CSS3, user interface design, social media strategy, multimedia tactics, mobile application development, e-commerce services, and data analysis. All CIW certificates are vendor neutral. 
  • Adobe Certified Expert (ACE). This certification offered by Adobe has three levels of certification. ACE Product Certifications recognize the holder as an expert in one single Adobe product. ACE Specialist Certifications recognize the holder as an expert in multiple Adobe products across a specific medium. Finally, ACE Master Certifications recognize the certificate holder as an expert in an entire Adobe Suite.

Career path

A web designer needs to have a bachelor’s degree in web design, graphic design, computer science, or a related field. Students are encouraged to pursue internships with web development companies while they are in college to gain some real-world experience in the field.

Web designers need to study HTML, JQuery, and JavaScript. Knowing application programming languages like Java, .Net, AJAX, and Ruby is also helpful. Knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite, especially Flash, Illustrator, and Photoshop, is also vital for a web designer.

Web designers can move up into a role like IT project manager. This position oversees and guides the entire development process of a project, sometimes supervising a team of designers and developers. Web designers who want to move into management roles should spend extra time developing soft skills like relationship building, motivating and influencing others, and communication.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1254

2020 Employment199,400
Projected Employment in 2030224,900
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 13% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift25,500 increase

Web designers need to keep up on the latest trends and study how users interact with websites. According to the website creation company Wix.com, one primary web design trend in the next few years is the use of enlarged typography and website elements. More websites are enlarging text, photos, video, and icons to draw people’s eyes as they browse, helping to cut through all the monotony of the internet and catch users’ attention.

Another trend in web design is the expanded use of white space or negative space of any color on websites. It can give readers a breather while scrolling through a large amount of text, or offset design elements to better draw the audience’s attention to them. Websites are expected to make white space more substantial and more prominent to create a cleaner look.

More web designers are also using overlapping layers on websites. Layering elements adds depth to the screen, either by placing elements on top of each other or having content come to the top of a pile after it’s clicked. Many designers are using techniques like parallax scrolling to accomplish this.