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How to Become a Web Designer

By Steve Smith

The information presented here is true and accurate as of the date of publication. DeVry’s programmatic offerings and their accreditations are subject to change. Please refer to the current academic catalog for details.


April 20, 2023

8 min read

If you’re tech-savvy and have a passion for design and all things creative, you may be interested in learning how to become a web designer. Pursuing a career as a web designer requires a mixture of creativity, training, technical skills and soft skills.


In this article, we'll define web design, discuss the web designer’s duties and responsibilities, explore some of the skills you may need to become a web designer and discuss the education and experience typically required to enter this field. Whether you're just starting the process of becoming a web designer or an experienced professional looking to carve a new path, read on for useful insights and guidance to help you prepare to pursue a career in this vibrant field.

What is Web Design?

Web design is a collective term that refers to the planning, design, development, testing and maintenance of websites. For many businesses, their website is the face of their brand and is the cornerstone of their marketing presence. It makes that all-important first impression while guiding the visitor to information about products, services or people while delivering promotional messages or sharing stories that compel them to make a purchase or take action. Anyone who has spent time browsing or shopping online can understand how a well-designed website helps establish a company's identity, increases engagement with their target communities and ultimately drives their business toward success.

The web design process requires a mixture of technical, creative and project management skills that result in online interfaces that are both search engine and user-friendly, visually appealing and highly functional on the variety of devices and platforms we use to learn, work, shop, connect and be entertained. 

What Does a Web Designer Do?

Working as members of in-house corporate marketing departments, digital marketing agencies or as self-employed contractors, web designers create the layout and structure of websites. They collaborate with professionals across the organization to ensure sites are coded correctly, meet the organization’s needs and comply with the company’s brand identity.

Daily tasks may vary depending on the scope of the project and the specific needs of the site’s owners, but in general a web designer’s typical duties may include:

  • Selecting color schemes, typography and other design elements to create a cohesive look and feel that conforms with the client’s established brand standards.

  • Coding the website using HTML, CSS and other programming languages to ensure that it’s functional and responsive on different devices.

  • Designing graphics, icons, buttons, controls and visual elements that complement the website’s content.

  • Creating wireframes and mock-ups of the site for client approval.

  • Testing the site’s functionality.

  • Fixing or removing functionality issues, such as dead links, as well as other de-bugging tasks.

  • Maintaining the website’s content over time to ensure that it remains relevant and up to date.

Skills You Need to Become a Web Designer

As a web designer, you’ll be challenged to create websites that are aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly and easy to update and manage for search engine optimization (SEO). Accomplishing this requires a combination of technical skills and soft or interpersonal skills.

Let’s take a look at some of the technical and design skills needed to become a web designer:

Principles of Design

With a strong grasp of the fundamentals of good design and an understanding of how various elements come together to support the website’s goal, you will be much more likely to design websites that are both uniquely attractive and technically functional.


Good web designers stay on top of trends in typography and know how to use typefaces and fonts effectively to help convey meaning or add impact to a page.

Composition and Color Theory

These elements of graphic design also play important roles in successful website design. The arrangement of text and other elements, like graphics, images and buttons all contribute to a well-balanced layout that serves both aesthetic and utilitarian purposes. Therefore, it’s a good idea to become acquainted with the color wheel, and study how complementary, contrasting and analogous colors can be combined or matched for maximum impact.

Programming and Image Editing

Web designers should be familiar with the programming languages and software applications used to design and build websites like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Adobe Illustrator, XD, Photoshop and Figma. They should also develop photo editing skills to properly format and manipulate images of various types, sizes and quality levels.

Content Management Systems

Website content is never static. Web designers and digital content managers use content management systems (CMS) to streamline the process of editing and updating website content such as web pages, blog articles, product listings, news bulletins and promotions. You should be familiar with different CMSs so you can choose the one that is appropriate for your projects and clients.

Responsive Design

When a site is responsive, it looks good and functions well on all devices, no matter the screen size. As a designer, it’s critical to familiarize yourself with the principles of responsive design to make sure that your sites are functioning well on all kinds of devices without detracting from the user experience.

User Experience and User Interface

User experience (UX) prioritizes a person’s emotional response to website design and how intuitive it is for them to use. Layouts with logically organized content that is curated with a humanistic feel to meet the visitor’s needs contribute to positive UX design. While UX is how someone feels as they move through your site, user interface (UI) focuses on the mechanics behind the visitors’ interactions as they engage with navigational elements, calls to action, menu and other site features. Straightforward and intuitive interfaces make for efficient UI. As a web designer, you should familiarize yourself with these concepts to be ready to meet the expectations of clients, managers or UX designers.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Website SEO isn’t exclusively the concern of the digital marketing strategists. One of your responsibilities as a web designer will be to make your sites stand out against all the others on the web. A good web designer knows that Google prioritizes sites that are designed to be mobile friendly, well-coded and load quickly, so your design strategy should consider how Google’s algorithms crawl and index your site.

While technical skills are essential for web designers, they should also be complemented by people skills. Soft skills can enhance your ability to communicate and collaborate well with other people, manage your time effectively and be more productive. Here are some that you should strive to develop or enhance:


Fending off frustration when collaborating with clients and team members requires patience. Even when facing tight deadlines, having the patience to explain project elements in different ways can make a big difference and contribute to the success of a project.


Pride in your work is a good thing, but the ability to compromise or handle rejection, even if you’ve invested a great deal of time and thought to a project, is a skill that can serve you well in your web design career.


Whether you work as a freelance web designer or as a member of an in-house marketing department, maintaining a professional attitude, managing time efficiently and boosting productivity all require discipline. The self-discipline to shut off distractions and focus on the work is a very useful soft skill that will not only help you in your professional life but will also come in handy if you’re balancing work with upskilling or pursuing additional education.


You may think of web design as a solitary effort, but there will be many times when you need to explain your approach or hash out details with clients, team members, managers or other stakeholders. This is where sharp communication skills can make a big difference, especially when you have to explain technical aspects of your work to a non-technical audience.

Attention to Detail

From making intentional design choices with typography, color and placement of images to operational elements like workflow and project management, attention to detail is a useful skill that can make a difference in the outcomes of your designs and your career. 

Web Designer Education and Experience

If you’re preparing to pursue a career as a web designer, begin by choosing an education that will help equip you with strong web design fundamentals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that some employers may prefer their digital design candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in web design, digital design or graphic arts, but this can vary from employer to employer.

The BLS also mentions that employers may prefer that web developers hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or programming, which can come in handy in building a better understanding of website layouts and may help to create sites with better UX in mind. 

At DeVry, our Bachelor’s Degree Specialization in Web Development and Administration can help you learn skills like programming, web architecture, and logic and design that might come in useful after graduation, especially if you’re considering a career as a web designer or web app developer.

If you’d rather focus strictly on web design, our Undergraduate Certificate in Website Design can get you started by familiarizing you with several of the tools used by today’s digital design professionals.

  • Focus on web design: Our undergraduate certificate program is specifically designed to teach a wide range of skills that you’ll need to create visually appealing and user-friendly websites and provides a place to explore and practice applying fundamental concepts related to visual design. Coursework also helps you better understand web technologies and development practices like user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design, as well as techniques related to the design and production of animation within web applications.

  • Technical skills: Our undergraduate certificate also covers several technical skills that are essential for web design, including programming languages like HTML5 and CSS3, and key software applications like Adobe® Photoshop®, Illustrator®, and InDesign®. You’ll learn to evaluate code to ensure that it’s valid, accessible and properly structured. 

  • Portfolio development: Throughout the program, you will have the chance to complete several hands-on projects that can be added to your web design portfolio. These projects can be useful in demonstrating your abilities to potential employers.

  • Flexibility: 100% online learning can provide you with the flexibility and convenience to pursue your education on a schedule that works for you.

Our Undergraduate Certificate in Website Design can be completed in as little as 1 year,* or in 1 year, 4 months on a normal schedule.** Our Admissions Representatives can help you determine what transfer credits may qualify. Refer to our Program Guide for more detailed information.

*Accelerated schedule assumes continuous enrollment in 12-15 credit hours per semester. 3 semesters per 12-month period. **Normal schedule assumes continuous enrollment in 12-15 credit hours per semester, 2 semesters per 12-month period. Please refer to the catalog for the credit range for this program.

Job Outlook for Web Designers

The employment outlook for individuals who want to become a web designer is strong. Citing the continuing expansion of e-commerce, the expected increase in online shopping options and the continued use of mobile devices, the BLS projects 16% growth in employment for web developers and digital designers between 2022 and 2032, a rate that is much faster than the average for all occupations.1 The BLS projects that there will roughly be 19,000 job openings each year during this period. It’s important to keep in mind however that this growth is projected on a national level and local growth will vary by location. This projection is not specific to DeVry University graduates and may include earners at all stages of their careers and not just entry level.

How to Pursue a Career in Web Design

There isn’t one specific path that works for everyone pursuing a particular career, but if you’re interested in becoming a web designer, these 6 steps might help you get started in the right direction:

1. Research the field

A good first step in preparing to pursue a career in web design is to do some homework to familiarize yourself with the field. Research the job duties, required skills and potential career paths for web designers. The BLS is a reliable source of information regarding the job outlook, wages and other aspects web developers and digital designers should know about. 

2. Develop Essential Skills

Develop technical skills like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Soft skills like the ones described earlier can be developed through a combination of formal education, practice and experience.

3. Build a Portfolio

A web design portfolio showcases your capabilities to potential employers and helps you to chronicle your progress as a professional. You might include mock-ups in the beginning, then add projects for clients as you complete them. You can promote your online portfolio through your social media channels. 

4. Gain Practical Experience by Freelancing

As you build your design portfolio, look for opportunities to work on freelance assignments. Working as a freelance web designer is an effective way to gain experience and make new contacts that may be useful in helping you land the job you want. 

5. Join Design Communities

Online design communities provide a forum in which up-and-coming web designers and web developers can share their work and get honest feedback from their peers. Use social media to search for and join these groups.

6. Obtain Certifications

Industry-recognized certifications are more than just resume boosters, they can help you develop new skills and verify the ones you already potential employers know you can back up your resume with job-ready proficiency. Some well-known certifications in web design include Adobe Certified Expert, Adobe Experience Cloud certification, Microsoft Azure Development Associate, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, Zend PHP certification and CIW Web and Mobile Design certifications. 

Got a Passion for Web Design? Get Started with DeVry

If you’re ready to combine your creative talent with the technical skills necessary to build attractive, user-friendly and engaging websites, we’re ready to help. Prepare to pursue a career in web design with our Undergraduate Certificate in Website Design. Blending art and technology, this online program is designed to help you build a solid background in the fundamentals of modern website design. Plus, 100% online learning helps you balance your commitment to education with work, family, community and other elements of your busy life.

Classes start every 8 weeks.

*Accelerated schedule assumes continuous enrollment in 12-15 credit hours per semester. 3 semesters per 12-month period. **Normal schedule assumes continuous enrollment in 12-15 credit hours per semester, 2 semesters per 12-month period. Please refer to the catalog for the credit range for this program.

8-Week Class Sessions

Classes Start Every 8 Weeks

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