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

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

As a web designer, you are responsible for big-picture decisions, like the menus listed on the site, and smaller details, like which fonts, colors, and graphics to use.

[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.

A web designer creates the layout and design of a website. In simple terms, a website designer makes a site look good. They use design programmes to create visual elements and usually have expertise in user interface (UI), which means they strategically design a site that's intuitive and easy for visitors to navigate. If your interest is piqued, let’s dig into this career and see what it takes to become a successful web designer.

Website developer vs. website designer

Website developers and website designers both create websites, but they have distinct roles in the process. A developer uses coding languages to create the framework of a website. They build the structure and then turn the site over to a designer to beautify it.


What does a website designer do?

Before talking about the skills or education needed, let’s uncover the daily tasks of a website designer so you can see if it’s something that suits your interests. Regularly, a website designer will: 

  • Design and layout websites

  • Think through the navigation of a site to provide the best user experience

  • Design sample pages and create mockups

  • Create visuals, graphics, or animations

  • Register web domains

  • Organise files 

  • Update or refresh pages

  • Coordinate with writers to create content

How much do web designers make? The average web designer's salary in India is ₹20,000 per month [1]. 


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

If you’re interested in becoming a website designer, there are certain skills you can develop to start down this career path. Here’s a look at both workplace skills and technical skills that you can expand on:

Workplace skills 

  • Communication: Website designers will need to talk with a company about what they want, ask questions about the intended audience, and convey their ideas for an effective site.

  • Time management: As a web designer, you might decide to take a freelance approach where you work with many different companies at once or you might work for one company. Either way, you’ll need the ability to manage your time effectively to keep multiple projects moving.  

  • Collaboration: A website designer works with other people to create a site.  You’ll need the ability to listen, collaborate, and take constructive criticism. 

Technical skills

  • Visual design: The core part of a website designer’s job is to create visual elements for a site, so a firm grasp of design principles is essential. This includes knowledge of design concepts and practices like proportion and symmetry, as well as typography and colour systems.

  • User experience (UX) design: User experience describes how a person feels when visiting and using a website. The designer’s goal is to create a layout that’s easy to navigate and visually pleasing. 

  • Knowledge of design programmes: Website designers must be able to use design programmes like Adobe Creative Cloud, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, or Inkscape. They rely on these programmes to create visual elements, produce mock-ups, and manipulate images. 

  • Some coding knowledge: A designer doesn’t write the code to make a site function, but it doesn’t hurt to know some HTML, CSS, or JavaScript in case you need to make slight adjustments to a site. With a basic understanding, you’ll be able to manipulate templates, enhance fonts, or move objects. 

Do you need a degree to land a job as a website designer?

Many website designers have a bachelor’s degree or higher in fields like computer science, information systems, or engineering. However, earning a degree isn’t the only path to this creative career; you can earn a certification as well. The following sections look at both degree programmes and certifications.

Degree programmes

Earning a degree in computer science or a related field, such as web design or computer applications, is one way to prepare for a career as a web designer. A review of the courses offered in these degree programmes reveals the type of content you can learn. 

Here's a sample of course topics you may take if you choose to earn a degree in computer science:

  • Complex Analysis, probability, and statistical methods

  • Data structures and applications

  • Operating systems

  • Software engineering

In contrast, take a look at courses that may be offered in a UX/UI design degree programme:

  • Business skills and strategic mindset

  • Design thinking for UX

  • Photoshop

  • Wireframing and prototyping 

Keep in mind that each university will offer a different range of courses, so be sure to do research on which degree program fits your needs.  

Web design certificate programmes and courses

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree isn’t the only option; you can also explore certification programmes or take courses to build your web design skills. Some employers may prefer candidates with relevant, up-to-date industry certificates. Here are a few relevant examples:

  • Google UX Design Professional Certificate: Learn from industry leaders at Google in this series of courses that cover foundational UX concepts. Build job-ready skills like wireframing, prototyping, and user research as you complete projects for your design portfolio. 

  • UI/UX Design Specialization: This series of courses from the California Institute of the Arts offers practical, skill-based instruction to help students understand the UI/UX development process, website architecture, site maps, wireframing, and best practices to create a delightful online experience for the end user.

Web designer portfolio

With the right skills honed and the right educational background, securing a website designer job includes building an impressive online portfolio. To help, here’s a list of tips to curate the best examples possibilities:

  • Quality over quantity: A portfolio should contain your best work, but it’s important to be selective. It’s better to showcase fewer, higher-quality sites than many sites that don't showcase your best work. 

  • Highlight the kind of work you want to do: Is there a particular industry that you’d like to serve? Do you want to focus on creating online stores as opposed to single-page sites for small businesses? Your portfolio should include the kind of work you want to do and showcase examples that you’re passionate about creating. 

  • Provide context: Your portfolio is a visual representation of your best work, but it is also an opportunity to provide context about your impact and projects. Consider providing a quick three-to-four-sentence description that explains the site’s purpose, its challenges, and why it’s in your portfolio.

  • Update it regularly: It’s a good idea to set aside scheduled time once a quarter to update your portfolio. Even if you are not adding new work, you might have additional context to add, or edits to make based on your ongoing learnings and goals. It's a lot easier to update when things are fresh in your mind versus months or years later. 

Take the next step

Are you ready to take the next step toward building a career as a website designer? Learn more about the Google UX Design Professional Certificate on Coursera. This completely online programme is designed to help individuals with no previous web design experience learn in-demand skills, all at your own pace. When you successfully complete the programme, you receive a sharable certificate to document your work.

Article sources

  1. Glassdoor. "Web Designer Salaries in India, https://www.glassdoor.co.in/Salaries/web-designer-salary-SRCH_KO0,12.htm?clickSource=searchBtn." Accessed May 8, 2023.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

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.