Are you looking for a career that combines creativity, technical know-how, and the ever-changing world of online media? If so, web design might be right up your alley. Web designers help create websites that are attractive, responsive, and easy to use. They also play an essential role in helping businesses establish their presence on the internet.
If this sounds like something you’re interested in pursuing, then read on! In this article, we’ll discuss what it takes to become a web designer, from exploring key competencies needed for success in the field to finding ways you can work as a professional designer and everything in between.
What is a Web Designer? (Job Description)
A web designer is responsible for creating the visual aspects (design and layout) of web pages and websites. The designer’s job is to create a user-friendly and visually appealing site. Web designers work closely with developers, marketers, and content creators to ensure the website is designed effectively, provides a positive user experience (UX), and looks good.
A web designer’s role differs from that of a web developer. While the designer is responsible for the visual appearance, the developer is responsible for the coding and technical aspects of building a website.
What Does a Web Designer Do?
The primary job of a web designer is to create a website that looks great and meets the user’s needs. This process starts by understanding the goals of their client or employer’s goals and the audience they’re trying to reach. These critical aspects of the job come into play before any visual design work is done.
After the initial research is completed, a web designer will create mock-ups or wireframes. This involves putting together the basic structure of a website, such as where text and images will be placed on each page. Once the wireframe is approved by their client or employer, they can move on to adding visuals and ensuring the design is cohesive.
A web designer’s job also involves staying up to date with industry trends—such as responsive design and usability—to ensure that their designs are modern and relevant.
Options for a Career as a Web Designer
There are a few different ways to work as a web designer, and the differences can be quite significant.
Work for a Design Agency
One of the most popular ways for web designers to work is by joining a design agency. These companies employ creative professionals, such as graphic and web designers, to create designs for their clients.
Agency designer jobs can be a great way to gain experience in the industry while working on a wide variety of different projects. Plus, you get the added benefit of being part of a team and receiving feedback from experienced designers. It’s also one of the best ways to make connections in the field and build a portfolio of work.
Pros of working for an agency:
- You’ll get to work on a lot of different projects.
- You’ll spend the majority of your time designing.
- You’ll have no responsibility for finding clients.
- There are plenty of advancement opportunities and room for career growth.
- Strong networking opportunities.
Cons of working for an agency:
- You won’t have any control over which projects you work on.
- Deadlines can be very tight, and there may be pressure to work quickly.
Work as an In-House Designer
Another popular option for web designers is to work in-house for a company. Instead of working on client projects, you’ll be designing for a single company or business. This usually involves working closely with the marketing team to develop the visual elements of their campaigns, marketing materials, and websites. You may also work with other internal stakeholders.
Pros of working in-house:
- You’ll get to know the company and its products inside out.
- You may have more control over design decisions.
- You may be able to work on long-term projects instead of moving from one client project to another.
- You may prefer working with internal stakeholders instead of with many different clients.
Cons of working in-house:
- You may feel stuck in one role, with fewer opportunities to transition into another job.
- Less opportunity to build your portfolio since you’re only working on projects for one company.
- Less variety in your work.
Freelancing is an excellent option for web designers who want the freedom to choose their own projects and set their own hours. Working as a freelancer means you’re self-employed, which allows you to work with clients from all over the world. This can be a great way to build your portfolio and gain experience quickly.
If you decide to freelance, you don’t need to wait for an employer to hire you. There are possibilities to find clients, even for those who are just starting.
Pros of freelancing:
- You have more control over what projects you work on.
- You can set your own rates and hours.
- You can work from home or anywhere in the world.
- The work can be done part-time or full-time.
- You can gain experience and build your portfolio.
- The network that you build may lead to future opportunities.
Cons of freelancing:
- No employee benefits like health insurance or a 401(k) retirement savings plan.
- The job involves much more than just the design work.
- You’re responsible for finding clients and securing work.
- Your income will be less predictable.
- You won’t have as much interaction with colleagues.
Start a Design Studio or Agency
If you’re ambitious and want to take on the challenge of starting a business, starting your own design studio or agency could be an option. You’ll be in charge of everything from finding clients and managing staff to marketing and sales. It’s a lot of work but can also be very rewarding.
Realistically, this usually isn’t a legit opportunity early in your career. Most people who start a studio or agency first get several years of experience.
Pros of running your own agency:
- You have control over the direction of the company.
- You can decide which projects you take on.
- Higher income potential.
- Higher profile within the industry.
Cons of running your own agency:
- You probably won’t spend much time designing since you’ll be busy running the business.
- You will have to manage clients and handle administrative tasks.
- Your income will depend on how successful your business is.
- Your employee’s income will also be dependent on you and your business.
How Much Do Web Designers Make? (Salary Stats)
If you’re considering a career in web design, it makes sense to know how much money you’ll be able to earn.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary of a web designer in the United States is $60,138. They also report that the average salary for an entry-level web designer is $49,486. And the average for a freelance web designer is $55,234.
Of course, those numbers are averages. If you’re working as an agency employee or in-house designer, your location is likely to influence your salary. See our list of the best states for designers.
Key Skills for Web Designers Today
Now, let’s look at the most important skills for web designers to develop. If you’re interested in a career in web design, these are skills you should be actively working on.
One of the most important skills for web designers is communication. Whether you’re working with a client or collaborating with other developers, communicating effectively is essential. You need to understand what the client wants, and you need to be able to explain your ideas clearly. You also must be able to communicate well with colleagues and co-workers.
2. Organization and Time Management
You need to be organized to keep track of all the details involved in each project. And you need to be able to manage your time effectively so that you can meet deadlines. Most of your projects will have deadlines, and your ability to meet the deadline may be crucial to the project’s success.
Another important skill for web designers is working well with others. You need to collaborate effectively with your team, clients, and colleagues. If you work for an agency or as part of an in-house design team, you’ll work closely with developers, marketers, and other designers.
4. Strong Sense of Design
Of course, a key component of web design is having an eye for good graphic design, including a solid understanding of color theory and layout fundamentals. You must understand the principles of good design and what looks good on a website or application.
You need to be able to think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions to design problems. The best designers can innovate and push the boundaries rather than simply repeating what everyone else is doing.
6. Attention to Detail
Your designs need to be pixel-perfect. It’s the small details that separate good designs from great designs.
7. Flexibility and Adaptability
The industry is constantly changing and evolving. You need to stay on top of the latest trends and be willing to adapt your skills as needed to stay competitive.
8. Familiarity with Design Tools
It’s also essential to have a good understanding of the various tools used in web design. Industry-standard tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and XD (or alternatives like Sketch and Figma) are used by many agencies and teams around the world.
9. Basic Coding Skills
Do You Need a Degree to Become a Web Designer?
No, you don’t necessarily need a degree to become a web designer. While some employers may prefer candidates with formal design or art education, many companies are more interested in practical experience and a portfolio of work.
So if you’re interested in becoming a web designer, it’s essential to focus on building up your design skills and creating projects that showcase your talent. A good portfolio will speak louder than a degree or certificate.
However, that’s not to say that a degree or certification is worthless. A Bachelor’s degree in design or a related field may give you an advantage over other applicants, and it may even be a requirement for specific jobs.
Where to Find Web Design Jobs
The best way to find a web designer job is by networking. You may already have connections that would lead to some opportunities either for employment or freelance work. And if you’re just starting, working to build your network can also help you in the future.
There are also many websites that you can use to find design jobs. Of course, general job boards include some opportunities for web designers. However, specialty or niche job boards can be equally as useful. See our web design job boards list to find specific sites worth checking.
Final Thoughts on Working as a Web Designer
Working as a web designer can be very rewarding. Not only can you use your creative abilities and problem-solving skills to create something new, but you also get the satisfaction of seeing your work come to life. And with many businesses relying heavily on their website and digital presence, you can be sure that demand for good designers won’t go away anytime soon.
If you’re considering a career in web design, there are many opportunities for those with the right skill set. With hard work and dedication, you could find yourself well on your way toward a successful and fulfilling career in web design.