With the extraordinary growth of the internet and e-commerce, more and more people are interested in developing the skills to become a web designer. The most important thing to make clear is that there is no single universal path to become a web designer. There are many usable paths, and the best choice depends on your particular situation and the form of web design that interests you most.
Understand the Basic Coding Languages
Some of the most basic skills for understanding websites and web design include proficiency in HTML (HyperText Markup Language, the standard markup language used to create web pages) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets, a style sheet language used to describe the presentation of a document written in a markup language).
While it is possible in some very limited circumstances to get work without proficiency in HTML and CSS, you will need highly specialized skills to do so. In most cases, it makes far more sense to acquire basic proficiency with those languages before attempting to get work as a web designer.
Is Freelance Work What You’re Looking For?
The qualities you need to become a web designer vary according to whether you seek employment or freelance work, and the type of web design you intend to specialize in.
For freelancers it is very important to be highly self-motivated, ensuring you produce quality work on time and a viable portfolio without a manager to oversee you.
For people seeking employment, it is even more important than for most freelancers to acquire specialized skills and an extensive portfolio to demonstrate the value you can bring to a team.
Make it a Career with Formal Education
There are many formal qualifications available for web design. Some are available for free and others are paid. Too many people looking to get into web design spend a great deal of money on college courses or online courses to teach aspects of web design without fully considering how it will get them where they want to go. It is important to remember that web design is a field, rather than a niche. If you try to think in detail about what services you would like to provide to clients, and what qualifications could prove useful to clients, you will be off to a much better start.
You will have to decide, for example, whether you are interested in producing the graphics, branding and visual architecture of client websites; your level of interest and aptitude in creating the (written) content they need; whether you want to be involved in designing the administrative back-end of their websites; whether you wish to be involved in optimizing User Experience; what level of complexity of website you wish to design.
Formal qualifications are available at coding bootcamps, universities, community colleges and online. However, many of these are not really conceived for use in the workplace, and do not provide value for money for someone seeking to become a web designer. If you do decide to acquire formal qualifications, be sure that what you are getting is not only high-quality but also cost-effective.
Teach Yourself Web Design
Some web designers have turned professional after taking courses online that are largely self-taught. Some of the most prominent examples of these courses include those available at Treehouse, Codeacademy and CodeSchool. For the most part, these courses are either inexpensive or free.
This form of teaching yourself online can save you a great deal of money, but you should be aware that a web design background consisting exclusively of experience with such courses is unlikely to impress potential clients. In order to become a web designer, you will need experience grappling with real world problems to an extent that sites like this do not necessarily provide. However, they can be a great starting point to understanding the field better, teaching you the basics of your area of interest and setting you more challenging problems so you can start building a portfolio.
The best advice we can give aspiring web designers is to think carefully about what exactly you want to do in web design and work to acquire the skills you will need to succeed in that area. Since many people are interested in web development, this is not the easiest industry to break in to. Yet, if you work hard to acquire specialized skills and a portfolio, you can certainly enjoy a successful career as a web designer.