How to Become a Web Designer

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover the skills that go into building websites, including creating layouts, understanding, color theory, using design software, and managing your time.

[Featured image] A man sits at his desktop computer working on a webpage design.

Web design is a multi-faceted career field in which you'll draw upon a variety of creative, technical, and workplace skills to build attractive and functional websites. Through a degree program, certificate program, or courses, you can learn these skills and launch your career in web design.

Keep reading to explore the web design skills, education and credentials you may need, and courses you can take to get started. 

Technical web design skills 

The technical skills of web design are the specific design and technology skills needed to create a website. To start, you should experiment with design software, such as Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, and Illustrator. With these or other tools, you can learn how to combine fonts, colors, patterns, and white space for eye-catching web design. These types of software also help with tasks like photo modification, logo design, and website layouts, called mockups or wireframes.  

To succeed as a web designer, it's also essential to learn about the back end of the process, including:  


Short for hypertext markup language, HTML is what you'll use to build the structure of a webpage. With this tool, you can learn how to perform these functions and more:

  • Insert headings, lists, tables, spreadsheets, and photos into web page copy

  • Add hypertext links so users can move quickly to another web page

  • Design forms for user interactions like ordering products or making reservations

  • Incorporate applications like video clips and sound clips into web page copy 


As HTML provides structure to your web page, cascading style sheets (CSS) is the computer language that gives it style. With this tool, you can change fonts, adjust color, modify backgrounds, and more.


JavaScript (JS) is a scripting language used with HTML and CSS to make web pages more interactive. With JavaScript, you can generate and control elements of web pages like photo slideshows, interactive forms, and animated graphics. 


Short for user experience, UX is a style of website design that focuses on what a user needs. Good UX designers consider website accessibility, usability, and visual style, and they think about how a web page makes a user feel. One practical example of good UX design is building a website responsive to a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and mobile device. 

Read more: UX Design Books, Blogs, and Podcasts: A 2024 Resource List


Python is a simple, versatile, and very efficient programming language. You can use Python to create web applications and games, conduct statistical calculations, and more. If you're looking to build a complex, scalable website like Netflix or Spotify, you might use Django, a popular website-building framework written in Python.  

Take a closer look at Coursera’s web design-related courses and certification programs:

Web Design for Everybody from the University of Michigan

HTML, CSS, and Javascript for Web Developers from Johns Hopkins University

UX Design Professional Certificate from Google


Workplace skills

Also known as core or soft skills, workplace skills have to do with how you work with others and on your own. Examples of workplace skills that benefit web designers include:

You can work on building these skills in your daily life. For example, strengthen your attention to detail by being more observant of the creative choices that go into other people’s designs. 

What education do you need to become a web designer?

There are a number of educational paths to a career in web design. Exploring your options can make it easier to decide on the best path for you.

Web design certification or certificate

You can learn many of the skills you'll need to become a web designer through certification or certificate programs. These programs are an attractive option if you want to earn a credential in less time and with a lower investment than a degree. Typically, these programs last one year or less. You can find many certification or certificate programs online.

If you're interested in single-subject certifications, you can find courses on various coding languages, concepts in web design, and more. Or, you can look for programs that combine several different subjects into one certification. Some students who enroll in these programs go on to get an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree in web design. 

Read more: What Are Certificate Programs? A 2024 Guide

Web design degree

If you're committed to becoming a web designer, you might want to pursue a degree in web design or related field. You can find degrees at the associate, bachelor's, and master's level. 

To get an associate degree in web design, you'll need to earn from sixty to sixty-five credits. Courses you'll take include some general education subjects and a selection of more web-specific classes, including classes in:

  • HTML

  • CSS

  • JavaScript

  • Illustrator

  • Adobe Photoshop

Read more: How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate Degree?

Popular career paths you can take with an associate degree include:

You might decide to continue your education to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree. 

Bachelor's degree

If you're interested in getting a bachelor's degree in web design, the journey will likely take four or more years if you attend classes full time. You can get a bachelor of science degree, a bachelor of arts, or a bachelor of fine arts degree. A bachelor of science (BS) focuses more on the technical side of web design, such as operating systems and web programming languages. Examples of classes you might take for this degree include:

  • Basic and advanced database structures

  • Programming languages and platforms

  • Web scripting

  • Web publishing 

  • Human-computer interface design

  • Visual frameworks

Read more: Bachelor’s Degree Guide: Resources for Your Undergraduate Education

A bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) highlights the creative aspects of web design. If you're leaning in this direction, you'll likely get a degree in a field like digital design or visual communication with an emphasis on web design. Examples of classes you might take for this degree include:

  • Graphic design tools

  • Basic and advanced web design

  • Image manipulation

  • Motion graphics

  • Animation

  • Typography

Master's degree

To obtain a master's degree in web design, plan to put in two to three years of work beyond a bachelor's degree for an extra forty to fifty credits. While pursuing a master's degree, you can gain more advanced web design and development knowledge. You'll likely create a website as part of your capstone project. When you graduate, you could be prepared for jobs like:

  • Senior web designer

  • Applications developer

  • UX designer

  • Multimedia specialist

  • SEO specialist 

Web designer job search resources

When you're ready to apply for jobs in web design, the following resources can help you make empowered career decisions and get the most out of your journey.

Explore web design with Coursera

Taking online courses is a great way to build web design skills and explore career options. Consider an online introductory course on Coursera, such as Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development & Coding from the University of Michigan or Meta's Introduction to Front-End Development. You can also check out specific web design skills you're interested in, such as HTML or UX design.

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