Getting Started as a Web Designer
Some might be surprised at seeing this occupation on a list of art careers, but unlike what many may think, web design is a creative job with lots of room for imagination. You will need to understand the technical side of things in addition to being creative, but this versatile career will allow you to develop and apply skills such as marketing, user experience, design, art, visual effects, and technology.
While it can be an exciting path to choose, it is also one of the few creative options that could offer financial stability, a competitive salary, and good market projections for the future. Having said this, web design is also extremely demanding, and there is more competition in the field every day. If you choose this career you will always need to be updating your skills and following the latest technology and design trends. Working on client deadlines will also mean you may need to work long hours, and we can’t forget outsourcing – since technology is international, your competition is not only local, but global.
If the pros sound like your type of thing and the cons don’t scare you, then you should start thinking of how you will become a web designer. Our experts give advice on that from their own experience, and we’ve also done some research to help you out. But first, take a look at this infographic to get an idea on what the industry looks like today.
What Kind of Education Do I Need to Become a Web Designer?
This is another career on our list that does not have a definitive education path. While many recommend formal education, others say that this is not necessary and a portfolio is everything.
The truth is, you have a few options when it comes to becoming a web designer. You can go to university or college and simply get a degree in web design. While this is the obvious choice if you already know that it is what you want your career to be, it is still a good idea to do a lot of self-learning, since you will need an extensive portfolio once you are searching for a job or clients.
You also have the option of studying something else, which can be related or not. For example, good program options could be computer science, arts, design, graphic design, marketing, and business. Having said this, you will need to invest a lot more time in online tutorials and practice hours in order to get all the aspects of web design.
And, of course, you can just choose the DIY path. In this case, it is the obviously cheaper option, but you need to be sure that you have enough self discipline and perseverance to learn online and do a lot of trial and error without external help.
No matter the path you take to become a web designer, you will need to learn some aspects of programming, graphic design, user experience, accessibility and usability, marketing and sales, as well as have a creative spark that will allow you to make websites that are fresh, exciting, and customer-friendly.
WHAT IF I DO WANT A DEGREE IN WEB DESIGN?
- Full Sail University
FSU offers a Web Design & Development program both on their interactive campus in Florida and online. In either case, the program is focused on being hands on and allowing the students to learn in a real-life environment with lots of practice. A semester on campus costs around , 762 and , 444 online.
- Rhode Island School of Design
If you already have a degree in a related field or have opted for a self-learning path, RISD offers a Web + Interactive Design Certificate as part of their continuing education program. The certificate is focused on both technical aspects of web design and the creation of user-friendly designs.
- International Academy of Design & Technology
Offering a program in Web Design & Development, as well as many related degrees and certificates, IADT gives the advantage of its many locations. The specific program is available in Chicago, Tampa, San Antonio, Detroit, Seattle, Sacramento, Orlando, Las Vegas, and online. Tuition varies across the different locations, but on average, the whole program costs around , 000.
- Drexel University
For those looking for a program that offers design for non-traditional media, the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel has just the right curriculum. Interactive Digital Media is specialized in design for mobile devices, teaching the more dynamic types of design, such as touch-based interaction. Tuition is $43, 135 per year here.
GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR
So, as you might have already guessed, the most important thing for a web designer to land jobs is his or her portfolio. You can have a degree from the top school in the world, but if no one likes your work, then no one with hire you either.
The question is, how do you get one?
Design your own website. Brand yourself that way. Help your family and friends out by doing websites for them for free, or for a fraction of the price a website would actually cost. Volunteer for non-for-profit organizations and design for them. This will both help you get a portfolio and perfect your work.
On the other hand, you will need to network. And this doesn’t mean just knowing people; it also means that you will always need to be ready to sell yourself. Have your business cards on hand, have screen shots of your websites on your smart phone, and update your portfolio constantly so you can send it right away when someone asks for it.
Building a name in this competitive industry won’t be too easy since there are so many web designers out there, but if you are good, this is a career that holds much opportunities since pretty much everyone nowadays needs a website and soon will need an app. Who knows what other type of platform will be needed in the future!