What Does a Web Designer Do (and How Can I Become One)?

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Web designers create first impressions. Learn about what they do, including choosing colour palettes, graphics, and the overall layout of web pages.

[Featured image] A web designer sits on a pink sofa in a living room with her computer on her lap working on a website design.

Web designers make the internet feel engaging. These creative and technically skilled workers use their understanding of design to make websites appealing to their target audiences. 

As a web designer, you will do much more than make a site look good. Using a mix of effective layouts and appealing visuals allows you to present a business or idea to the masses. Organisations will entrust you with delivering a critical element in making a first impression: the visuals. 

Several routes can help you land a job as a web designer. Web designers in the United Kingdom can expect a salary ranging from £19,000 to £58,000, with the average designer earning £31,687 per year [1].  

What does a web designer do on a daily basis? 

If you’re interested in becoming a web designer, it’s helpful to understand what an average day will look like. While no two days will be exactly the same, in any given week as a website designer, a web designer can expect to: 

  • Plan and layout web pages

  • Create graphic elements, including graphics and animations

  • Choose and edit photographs 

  • Meet with clients to strategize on website style, including colour palette and fonts 

  • Coordinate with graphic designers and writers 

  • Think through the total site design and navigation elements

What kind of skills should you develop to become a web designer?

Even if you have a natural eye for design, you’ll need to master specific skills before getting hired as a web designer. Research shows that the overwhelming majority (more than 70 per cent) of website users use website design as a significant factor in how they judge a company’s credibility [2]. As a website designer, you will need to become a master at acing first impressions through visuals. 

Because web design requires both creative and technical expertise, you’ll need a varied skill set that includes both technical and people skills. 

Workplace skills


Companies pay web designers to translate their vision onto a screen. They will rely on you to understand their needs and company image and portray them accurately. 

Successful web designers are excellent at listening to and understanding client concerns. That means being able to talk with a wide variety of people, ask detailed questions, and explain your ideas effectively.  

Time management

Whether if you work for a single company, as part of a design studio, or as a freelancer, you will need to manage your time effectively. Web design involves both collaborative and solo work, so you’ll need to work around other people’s schedules and meet deadlines. 

Technical skills

Visual design

Creating a great website requires more than choosing the right colours and graphics. Effective web layout relies on design principles. 

To be truly effective, you will need a firm understanding of proportions, symmetry, typography, and colour theory. It will help you tailor each website to a specific target audience. 

User experience

User experience, or UX as many people call it, concerns the user’s feelings while viewing and navigating a website. Web designers must be conscious of basic UX principles to develop sites that quickly create the right emotions in users. 

A web designer should create sites tailored to specific target markets to deliver effective UX. Doing so often includes a bit of audience research.

Knowledge of design programs

Website designers need proficiency with several software programs. Examples include Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Sketch, which are all useful in creating graphical elements. 


Web designers do not typically write the code for the sites they design. However, if you possess a basic understanding of HTML or CSS, you can make small changes to design elements. 

Knowing just a bit of coding around fonts, templates, colours, and object placement will make your job easier and faster and may make you a more valuable employee.

Do you need a degree to become a web designer?

While it may help you gain entry-level jobs, you do not have to attend university to become a web designer. In fact, beyond getting that first real job, a university degree may not help much. That’s because web designers are often hired based on their portfolios and skills, not their educational attainment. 

A university degree is an excellent way to get the necessary technical training to be effective in the role. You may also acquire the same skills from certificate programs and online courses. 

How Coursera can help

The Google UX Design Professional Certificate offered by Google teaches you the foundational skills necessary to work in UX and adjacent fields. In less than six months, learners develop fluency with Adobe software and fully understand the design process's basics. By the time you graduate, you will have a professional UX portfolio comprising three projects, including a mobile app, a website, and a cross-platform experience.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “How much does a Web Designer make in United Kingdom? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/united-kingdom-web-designer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,14_IN2_KO15,27.htm?clickSource=careerNav.” Accessed January 12, 2023. 

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