Everything You Should Know About Starting a Career in Web Design

The Internet has completely changed the face of communications, marketing, entertainment, and expression. In today’s world, it is almost impossible to go a day without viewing a webpage. Our lives are practically lived online, making web designers the heralds of the Information Age.

It is no wonder that web design has become a popular career choice. Interested in learning how you can become a web designer? Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is Web Design?

In a nutshell, web design is the process by which websites are created to set specifications and to achieve the objectives of clients. Web design encompasses a number of different elements, such as graphic design, content creation, web page layout, and even search engine optimization.

Elements of Web Design

Web design is made up of various elements that all work together to convey a message in an efficient and persuasive way. Each of these elements is important for creating a comprehensive and cohesive style:

  • The color palette will usually depend on client preferences and what the client wants to achieve. Using web-safe colors, the web designer will use color to convey the spirit of the brand.
  • Content. This is the textual component of a web page. It must be useful and clear so that the reader understands what the web page is telling them.
  • Fonts. Fonts can have a significant impact on the success of a website’s design. The web designer needs to make sure that the font they use is a “web-safe font” so that web browsers can read it easily.
  • Graphics. These are used to enhance the web design and can include photos, icons, clipart, logos, and more. The web designer arranges them in a way so that they complement the color and message of the web page without slowing the loading time.
  • Layout:The web layout is the arrangement of all of the above. The web designer ensures that the web page is good looking and user-friendly. Ideally, someone visiting the page should be able to get all the information they need at a glance.

What Is the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development?

The terms “web design” and “web development” are often used interchangeably but they actually refer to different things. Web development broadly refers to the process of developing a website for the Internet or an intranet. Web design is a subset of web development. When talking to web professionals, web development is basically the non-design components, like writing mark-up and coding.

With larger organizations, there may be separate people doing web design, developing web content, and project management. With smaller teams or in a freelance web design business, web designers often do all of those things.

What Do You Do as a Web Designer?

Whether you work in a design firm or as a freelance web designer, you will be making web pages for clients, for example, for fashion designers, entrepreneurs, or educational institutions. You could be designing other services, such as social media accounts, mobile applications, even digital marketing campaigns. You will likely also be working with web developers and marketing professionals.
Your typical day might look like this:

  • Client meetings, to discuss their objectives and what they want out of their website
  • Creating a mock-up design plans for the website
  • Making decisions on fonts, text, background, colors and other elements
  • Changing up the layout of web pages, using design software to create and reposition links, buttons, and pictures
  • Adding multimedia features to existing pages, like videos, sound clips, and animation sequences
  • Uploading the website to a server, testing it, and making improvements

Design Firm or Freelance?

There are a number of differences between being an employee at a design firm or a freelance web designer, in terms of lifestyle and control. The decision as to whether you want to be a member of a firm or go out on your own is largely personal. Here are some of the factors to consider:

  • Type of work: Agencies, especially the bigger ones, tend to get projects from better-known clients – more famous brands. Projects like these don’t often go to freelancers. As a freelancer, though, you would have more choice in what projects you choose to work on.
  • Workload: If you’re at a firm, most of the behind-the-scenes work, like marketing, paperwork, and correspondence, are handled by other members of the team so you get to spend more time doing actual web design. Bigger projects sometimes mean bigger workloads, however.
  • As an employee, you will have set hours, although more and more businesses are providing for telecommuting and remote working. As a freelancer, you will set your own hours, but just like any other self-employed professional, you may need to work longer hours to get the job done.
  • Long-term employees of design firms enjoy job security and sometimes get some pretty nifty perks. Freelancers have more freedom, of course, and depending on how much work you choose to take on a freelance web designer’s salary can work out to be higher than web design employee’s.

What Skills Are Needed to Be a Web Designer?

In order to be a web designer, you will need to have the following technical skills:

  • Knowledge of visual design principles so you can incorporate effective and compelling visual components in your webpages as well as any branding material
  • Some understanding of UX (user experience), SEO (search engine optimization), social media, and social media marketing so that you can create user-friendly and easy-to-find web pages.
  • Ability to use coding software (like HTML and CSS) and design software (like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator)
  • Copywriting skills and knowledge of proper grammar
  • Photo editing skills using software such as Photoshop

There are a number of soft skills that are invaluable for a career in web design:

  • Creativity – web pages are supposed to be pleasing to the eye and draw people in, so you need some artistic talent.
  • Attention to detail – with digital work, it’s often the little things people notice.
  • Problem solving and troubleshooting – you may be called upon to make fixes and improvements per client specifications.
  • Communication skills, especially being able to explain technical concepts – you may need to make your clients understand what is required to create the website and digital content they are asking for.
  • Time management and project management – so that you meet all your project milestones, deadlines, and client expectations.

Is It Worth It to Get a Web Design Degree?

While it’s true that not all successful web designers have had formal training or have taken a web design degree program at college, there are distinct advantages that come with the formal education that a dedicated art school, such as Hussian College, provides.

Credibility with Employers at the Beginning of Your Web Design Career

Web design has become a very competitive field. You will be up against many other candidates when you are first looking for a web design job. Most employers want to have the peace of mind that you know what you’re doing. A web design degree often reiterates to employers that you have the expertise and education needed to produce work that goes above and beyond.

Familiarity with the Technology the Industry Is Using

Colleges know that if they don’t teach their students how to use the latest tools that everyone else in the field is using, they will be at a disadvantage. That is why professors will make sure they are aware of the technological trends and advances and pass them on to their students. A web designer who is self-taught may not have necessarily known the specific tools the industry expects web professionals to know.

Networking

In the world of commerce and information, having industry connections can be a huge asset when you are looking for employment, referrals, or clients. When you learn web design at college, you are often being taught by a professional in the field. Your guest lecturers may also be professional web designers. Some schools organize networking events so that you can meet potentially useful contacts in a more informal setting.

Building a Portfolio

Through college, you will be assigned numerous projects, some of which could end up in a portfolio that prospective employers and clients will review, along with your credentials. Self-taught web designers may have samples of work in their portfolios. However, since your college classes are for the purpose of expanding your knowledge and experience in different techniques, looks, and technologies, among other things, your art portfolio will likely show more range and versatility.

What Can I Do with a Web Design Degree?

Because commerce is moving more and more to interactive and mobile platforms, web designers and people with web design backgrounds are in demand in industries that you might not think to associate with computers. For example:

  • Advertising/marketing firms
  • Automobile manufacturers
  • Fashion businesses
  • Restaurant franchises
  • Film, television, and video companies

Essentially, web design is relevant to any business that has or wants to have a web page.

Getting a Web Design Degree

Web design and related degrees are offered at many types of learning institutions, such as art and technical colleges, universities, and continuing education programs. Which school you ultimately choose will depend on factors like affordability, convenience, reputation, teaching caliber, and specific program offerings.

What Courses Will I Take a Web Design Student?

Each college has its own web design curriculum, but in general, you will take courses that relate to artistic skill, visual interpretation, and career development. Specifically, courses may relate to…

  • Graphics and Programming – Related classes teach how to program using numerous coding languages and web tools, including basics like HTML and Javascript, and newer programs currently used in the industry.
  • Digital Typography – This kind of course identifies how and why different typefaces can be used for different purposes both in print and digital such as logos and branding or headlines versus content.
  • Marketing for Web Designers – Learning communications and marketing principles will make you more competitive, since you will already know how to identify and craft messages catered to target audiences.
  • Interactive Media – This is a key component for user experience and for creating content for mobile platforms.
  • Career Planning – Courses related to career planning are usually designed to provide students with insider insight on the business and career advice so that they come out of college ready to take the necessary steps to establish yourself in the industry.

Examples of Web Design Classes at Hussian

Every school will offer different classes that fall beneath the above topics. At Hussian College, we offer a variety of classes that help establish well-rounded and experienced individuals. For example, within our own curriculum, students have the opportunity to take classes related to everything from fine visual arts to graphic design. Some classes that web design students may take at Hussian College include…

  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) Technology – CSS and CSS editors are integral to the creation of many of today’s modern websites – many sites created before CSS technology are converting to it, meaning web design students would benefit from having some experience within this subject.
  • Design Foundations – Students learn the key principles in information, aesthetic, and visual design to apply to two-dimensional work.
  • Device/Technology Specific Design – The wave of the future is responsive design; apart from mobile devices, printers and kiosks can incorporate interface design. Students actually get to design and create a mobile web page.
  • Organizational Behavior of Web and Mobile Apps – A deeper understanding of the psychological/sociological perspective means that students can more effectively meet client objectives.

Students can also earn credits while creating their portfolios and pursuing supervised internships, both of which are invaluable when you enter the job market, or if you’re considering how to become a web designer with a freelance career.

Find Out More and Launch Your Career in Web Design

Web design is a fascinating and ever-evolving field that allows you to incorporate technology, innovation, and art along with marketing principles and communications messaging. It has evolved significantly since its inception, and it will undoubtedly continue to evolve, changing how we interact with data even more. As we head closer to a paperless world with electronic currency, web and mobile interfaces will become even more important than ever before. Web designers will have an even bigger role to play in this new world.

If you have any questions, Hussian College is happy to talk to you about our courses, professors, and how we can prepare you for a satisfying career in web design. Contact us and get the tools for your future in web design.