How to a Become Web Designer: A Beginner's Guide to Web Design

What Is Web Design?

Web design refers to the design of websites, which includes creating a website or web pages that focus on user experience.

webdesign hands typing laptop

Web designers are freelance creative professionals in high demand as more businesses move into the online space. If you're looking for evidence to see that this career is in demand, look up "website designer" on any recruitment website, and you'll see pages of well-paid gigs despite the current COVID-19 situation. 

Web designers work on the overall aesthetic, layout, and design the content on a website that contributes to the company's visual branding and experience. A well-designed website is easy to navigate, looks beautiful, and suits the function of the company's identity and digital marketing needs.

This article is for you if you're interested in launching a career in website design.

We'll discuss the skill set needed to become a hireable web designer and how to create a professional portfolio website that lands you clients.

What Is Web Design?

The fundamental principle of website design combines visual design and user interface experience. 

When web design first became a career in the early 1990s, it originally focused on websites viewed from desktop browsers, but with more people accessing the Internet from their phones, the demand for interactive sites for mobile and tablets is becoming increasingly relevant, making it an ideal industry for those interested in a creative career with plenty of room for innovation.

What Does A Web Designer Do?

Web designers create the visual aesthetics of a webpage, which may combine text with sounds, photos, videos, and graphics. Website designers are trained in visual arts with every design choice grounded in user experience. 

Within the realm of web design, you can find more specific areas of expertise, including:

Interaction design (IDX): Create digital products and services. Their main focus is to improve the interactive experience between the product or system and the user. 

Mobile design: Designing websites with mobile devices and tablets in mind. 

User interface design (UI): User interface design focuses on market research to understand user behavior to improve the experience with digital products.

What Is The Difference Between A Web Designer And A Web Developer?

Web designers and web developers are both technically website builders who can create beautiful, functional websites from scratch on their own, but they often work together on projects. 

A web designer focuses on the appearance and user experience to establish the look and feel of a website, while a web developer’s scope revolves around the site architecture using various programming languages to implement the concepts created by the designers for full functionality. A developer may also be involved in the site's overall maintenance and web development.

webdesign macbook desk

Can I Learn Web Design On My Own?

While college campuses offer tons of great web design programs for those who enjoy learning in a structured environment, there are many online resources for learning web design at your own pace.

Let's talk about some of the tech skills you'll need to learn and continue to sharpen to become a successful website designer. 

Visual Design 

Visual design is the skill used to present information in the best way possible. A strong application of visual design concepts on a website attracts attention, conveys information concisely, and establishes the look and feel of the brand in a matter of seconds. 

People from a graphic design background tend to make excellent website builders because the creative skill sets tend to overlap, especially when it comes down to arranging web design elements like typography and images. 

Design Softwares And Content Management Systems

To apply your visual design principles and create workable assets for your websites, you'll need to work in designer-specific software. Some of the most common programs for web design include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, Figma, and Webflow.

You don't always have to build a site from scratch. 

Another way to design websites is through a content management system, like Format that provides template structure and pre-set elements to your design. Format has an intuitive drag and drop interface but allows you to add further customization using standard design coding languages. 

UX Design

UX stands for "User Experience." A huge component of good web design is how the visitors of the website interact with it. Understanding user experience will help you create websites from a user perspective, which requires real market research to understand the behaviors of certain audiences when interacting with certain pages or physical products. 

UI Design

UI design stands for "User Interface." This design scope can extend to graphic designers, branding design, and frontend developers. While UX can be applied to physical and digital products UI is strictly for digital. Its focus is on creating a seamless and intuitive experience on digital platforms.  

Web Coding 

While there are many excellent templates and tools that help make the web designer's job much easier and they often work with web developers, web designers are still expected to know web coding languages like HTML and CSS to add customization to a site. 

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It's what's used to structure content on a website from headings, paragraphs, links, and certain design elements. 

CSS or Cascading Style Sheets is the language that compliments HTML code. It describes the presentation of the web pages to adapt to the relevant screen sizes. 

Learning JavaScript is a bonus for web design. It's a programming language that allows you to achieve more complex features, including interactive maps, animation, and scrolling video. While it's not a required skill for the job, understanding JavaScript can make you a more versatile web designer, which means you can charge more for your services.

Showcase your web design projects

Put your web design work in the spotlight with Format's Online Portfolio

Is Web Design a Good Career?

Website design is a great career option for visual learners and creative types who love coming up with big ideas and apply them in a digital landscape. You can make a great living with many opportunities for career advancement as you develop your skills and specialize in design areas. 

Many companies look to hire an in-house web designer, but you can also launch your career as a freelancer if you have a more entrepreneurial inclination, allowing you to build and design websites from anywhere in the world.

Are Web Designers In High Demand

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, web designer and developer roles are looking to grow by an average of 13,400 job openings each year over the next decade. 

Even though websites can be built anywhere globally, which means many web design jobs are hired in lower-waged countries, there is still a priority in hiring American website designers as cultural nuances are an important component of design and visitor experience. 

With more businesses expanding online, especially in retail, you can expect to see more jobs opening up in web design.

How Much Does A Web Designer Charge?

A web designer's earnings will depend on various factors, including their skill set in programming and software design tools and experience. 

Freshbooks estimates that website designers charge $75 per hour on average. A single website project can cost between $5,000 –$10,000. In 2020, the median pay for a web designer roe was $77,200, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How Do I Make A Good Web Design Portfolio?

Whether you've just started on your web design career or are well established, you'll need a professional website portfolio to show off your work. 

If you're just getting started in your career and don't have paid experience, we recommend displaying your best project work. Commission yourself to redesign popular a site or mock-up brand for a website. 

Either way, a portfolio site is critical to landing a job. While other platforms allow you to present your portfolio, such as Behance by Adobe, a website gives you more control as to how your viewer interacts with your work. 

You can easily build a beautifully designed, functional portfolio website using Format's templates designed specifically for creative professionals. 

You may be wondering, do web designers use templates? 


Not every website needs to start from scratch. 

Website designers can use templates and tools to make their lives easier. Almost any website builder today offers templates that help give you the structure to start your project, making your workflow more efficient. It's up to you to customize the template and make it truly your own. 

Format members have access to over 70 template designs to showcase their best work and attract clients. You can even take advantage of the integrated sales tools and SEO features that transform your digital portfolio into a marketing tool and income stream.

webdesign format laptop

What To Include In A Web Design Portfolio

  • Showcase Your Best Work: Your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest project. Display projects that you'd like to do more work on as it will help give prospecting clients a better idea of the projects you can accomplish. 

  • List Your Skillset And Services: Make it easy and quick for visitors to understand what you can offer. List out your experience in coding languages, software, and other programs. 

  • 'About Me' Page: An "About Me" page gives your prospecting client an idea of what it would be like to work with you and whether you'd make a great fit for their project. Keep it concise but be sure to include your experience working in web design and what type of projects you're looking to work on in the future. 

  • Contact Page: Don't forget to include how a visitor can contact you to inquire about work opportunities. Simplify this process by adding an embedded form on the page. 

What Next?

For many of you who are just looking into the world of web design and feeling overwhelmed on where to start, we recommend browsing through Codecademy for a free introduction to self-guided tutorials on learning code. 

You can also find excellent online courses via Udemy or Coursera for more in-depth tutorials on design principles and software you'll need for website design. 

If you're ready to find clients, what does your portfolio look like? 

Build a portfolio today that you're proud to show off using one of Format's intuitive templates. 

For more resources on how to make the most out of your creative portfolio, like how to sell some of your creative assets to earn income or understanding SEO to boost your website's marketing power, be sure to check out our digital magazine catalog.

Create your own portfolio website with Format today.

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