How to Become a Web Designer

two graphic designers working on a website redesign

Web design involves the design of user experience (UX) of new websites or the redesign of existing websites. This career requires a blend of technical skills and creativity, making it an ideal choice for people who enjoy expressing themselves artistically. Now is a great time to work toward a career in web design. If you’re interested in diving into this dynamic career field, you will first need to enroll in a web design degree program.

Earn a Web Design Degree

Generally, only a bachelor’s degree is required to apply for entry-level positions in this career field. The ideal web design degree program features a curriculum that covers the fundamentals of and the principles of design, user experience, user interface design and prototyping. Professionals in this field need to know both technical skills and aesthetic principles, since websites need to be both functional and user-friendly. Look for a digital design degree that covers topics such as the following:

  • Elements of design and visual communication
  • Theories of user experience and interaction
  • Traditions of designing with typography
  • Use of interactive web and rich Internet applications

In addition, you can expect to study web programming languages and develop an understanding of such languages as HTML and CSS. You will explore the basics of web security, server technologies and open source-based applications. This enables you to collaborate with developers at all levels of the production process. The curriculum for a bachelor’s in web design degree can be challenging because it must prepare you to handle a variety of situations you may encounter in your professional life. Consider forming a study group with fellow students to help you retain knowledge and skills.

Cultivate the Skills and Characteristics of a Successful Web Designer

As you work toward the completion of your web design degree, you can simultaneously refine the essential skills and characteristics of an effective web design professional. Like most other careers, communication is one of the most important skills for web designers. You will need to be able to communicate clearly to other members of your team (potentially including cross-functional team members) and possibly to clients as well. If you opt to become a freelancer, your primary communication will be with your current and potential clients. Other important skills and characteristics include the following:

  • Concentration: It is typical for a web designer to need to spend long hours at a computer. You may want to work on improving your attention to detail and concentration.
  • Creativity: Effective web designers are creative individuals. You can work on enhancing this characteristic, even if you’re already a creative person. You can visit various websites and think about how you would have designed them differently. Favorite websites among the web design industry include dribble.com, awwards.com and thenextweb.com to name a few. 
  • UX: UX refers to “user experience.” It’s a consideration of how people feel when they use a website, particularly an interactive one. For example, does a website frustrate users or is it user-friendly? Web designers must prioritize the user experience when designing a website.
  • UI: UI refers to "User Interface." It focuses on anticipating what users might need to do and ensuring that the interface has elements that are easy to access, understand and use to facilitate those actions. 

Having a strong sense of time management will also help you in this career path.

Develop Your Personal Brand and Professional Portfolio

For web designers looking to land that first job, having a professional portfolio is crucial. It’s a way of building your personal brand, showcasing your talent and encouraging employers to keep your resume on top of the stack. It’s generally expected that web designers will create their own portfolio websites. Use the skills you learned in your digital design degree program to put together a highly functional, aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate website.

You can draw on projects created in college to populate your portfolio with work. You can also create new projects designed specifically for your portfolio. It’s always a good idea to follow the adage “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” This means creating a portfolio that reflects the jobs you would like to land. For instance, if you would like to specialize in creating websites for doctors’ offices, you should focus on those types of designs in your portfolio.

Earn Web Design Certifications

Although they aren’t strictly necessary to land a job in this industry, web design certificates can be an effective way to stand out from the crowd of job applicants. By earning these optional certifications, you can also enhance your salary negotiating power. Consider working toward the following certifications:

  • Adobe Certified Expert (ACE)
  • HubSpot web design certifications

If you must choose just one certification, becoming an Adobe Certified Expert is a safe choice because many employers prefer to use Adobe products.

If you feel drawn to this dynamic career field, you can get started working toward your dream job by earning your web design degree at Grand Canyon University. The Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Web Design degree program involves an intensive curriculum of design fundamentals, production methods and advanced web design principles that will prepare you to excel in this field. To learn how to join the supportive learning community at GCU, click on Request Info above.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.

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