How to Become a Web Designer

Written by Coursera • Updated on

There's more to creative web design than meets the eye. Various skills go into building websites, from knowing how to create layouts to practicing good time management. If you're wondering how to become a web designer, this handy guide can help.

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

To become a web designer, you should study both the creative and technical aspects of creating attractive web pages. Through a college degree program or certificate program, you can learn how to become a web designer and work with all the website's visual components, from color and font to layout. 

Build the right skills for web design.

Web designers can benefit from a variety of both technical and workplace skills. You can have an eye for creative web design and learn how to put it to use, gaining or refining these skills.

Technical skills 

The technical skills of web design are the specific design and technical skills needed to create a website. To start, you should experiment with design software, such as Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, and Illustrator, to acquire design skills. With these 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). 

To succeed as a web designer, it's also essential to learn about the back end of the process. Here are some of the technical skills you'll likely pick up along the way.  

HTML

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 

CSS

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

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. 

UX

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. 

Python/Django

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

Google UX Design Professional Certificate from Google

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Workplace skills

Also known as core 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:

  • Creativity

  • Critical thinking

  • Reliability

  • Organizational skills

  • Time management

  • Attention to detail

  • Problem-solving 

  • Communication

  • Conflict resolution

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. 

Earn a certification in web design.

You can learn many of the skills you'll need to become a web designer through certification programs and degree programs. Certification programs are an attractive option for someone who doesn't have much time or money to invest. Typically, these programs last one year or less, and you can find them online and at various community colleges.

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 2022 Guide

Consider earning your degree.

If you're committed to becoming a web designer, you might want to pursue a degree of some kind. Colleges and universities offer associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in web design. 

Associate degree

To get an associate degree in web design, expect to attend school for two years if you go full time. You'll need to earn from sixty to sixty-five credits, and if you go to school part-time, you'll likely need to spend more time earning those 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:

  • Webmaster

  • Web designer

  • UX designer

  • Front-end developer

  • Freelance web design consultant

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 

Next steps

If you'd like to see if a career in web design is for you, consider taking an online introductory course on Coursera, such as Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development & Coding from the University of Michigan. You can also check out specific web design skills you're interested in, such as HTML or UX design.

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specialization

Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development & Coding

Learn to Design and Create Websites. Build a responsive and accessible web portfolio using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript

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(22,932 ratings)

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BEGINNER level

Average time: 6 month(s)

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Skills you'll build:

Web Development, Cascading Style Sheets (CCS), Html5, JavaScript, Responsive Web Design, Web Design, Web Accessibility, Html, Style Sheets, Document Object Model (DOM), Bootstrap (Front-End Framework)

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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