Paths to Becoming a Web Designer

A web designer resting his chin in his hand and watching a desktop computer.

Kohei Hara / Getty Images

The web has become a critically important part of everyday life. For many people, websites are as ubiquitous as phones or television, and in many cases, they are using their phones and televisions to access the web!

With such important now placed on websites, it is no surprise that careers in the web industry are desirable. Many people want to start a career as a web designer, but it can be confusing to determine exactly where they should begin if they want to break into this industry. 

From Beginning to Advanced and Everything in Between:

The simple truth is that there is quite a bit to learn within the realm of web Design. Some of the skills commonly found in web designers include:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Design skills
  • Layout skills
  • Programming language (many developers actually know more than one language)
  • Administration
  • Accessibility for users with disabilities
  • Search engine and digital marketing
  • Content creation
  • Graphics

No matter where you are along the path of web design, there is sure to be something more for you to learn and grow in your skill sets. So how do you decide where to go next on your career path? Luckily, there is no one single path for everyone, which means you have a say in how your career progresses! Whether you are brand new to HTML and web design or have been writing programs and coding for years, a plan for growth is sure to be a part of your long-term success.

Beginning HTML and CSS

If you're just starting out on the web design path, this is where you would begin. The beginning HTML resources cover the basics of HTML and building a web page. CSS would cover cascading style sheets and how to bring the look and feel into a web page. Understanding the basics is where you begin, and once you have those basics masters, you can move onto more advanced HTML and web design lessons and skills.

Advanced HTML

Advanced HTML includes more complex page layouts with CSS, including responsive design for multi-device support (phone, tablets, etc.). You will likely also start to work with Javascript to add even more functionality and interaction into your web pages. 

Once you're an expert on basic HTML and advanced HTML, you'll have a lot of the skills you need to move into web development as a career, but there are forks in the path at this juncture. Once you have the basics and a little more mastered, you will likely want to choose design or programming as the path which you continue down. It's also possible to do both, but many web professionals prefer to focus more on one or the other - either the visual design of sites and interfaces or the more in-depth programming required to bring custom ideas and applications to life.

Professional Web Designers

Professional web designers focus primarily on the look and feel of web pages. Many, if not most web designers work for design firms or, in some cases, as in-house resources for a single company. Many web designers also decide to go into business for themselves or work as contractors. This adds another set of skills that they need to be successful — an understanding of contracts!

Professional Web Programmers

Professional web Programmers focus on the unseen part of web pages known as the "back end." Things like the CGI, scripts, and programs that make web sites work with advanced functions like shopping carts and databases. Sometimes programmers also work on the servers and keep them up and running, although many companies choose to have other IT professionals, either internal or external, handle their server infrastructure needs.

Web programmers also manage the security of web sites and web pages. web programmers often implement and manage content management systems and e-commerce portals. Being a web programmer is often less glamorous than a Designer, but it is also often a more lucrative path, especially for high-end developers who known in-demand languages.

Know Where You Are on the Path

Knowing where you are on the path of web design is the first step to getting the information and resources you need to keep learning and growing in your choice. Just be aware that no matter where you are in your web career, learning and growth will always be a part of your plans if you want to remain up to date and successful in this fast-changing industry!