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Web Designer

How to Become a Web Designer: 4 Soft Skills to Develop to Succeed

What if you could shape the way the internet looks? How about combining a passion for coding with the touch of an artist? Web designers live at a unique intersection of art and technology. An eye for aesthetics matters as much as a knowledge of programming languages. All that, in a field expected to see 23% job growth by 20311. The world of web design is changing by the minute. Trends such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and motion-based websites are changing the way we consume content online. Successful web designers stay ahead of these trends. They build beautiful and functional websites designed to meet business objectives and audience expectations. To get there, you'll need technical skills. But without the soft skills, you won't be able to succeed. Read on to find out how Fingerprint for Success can help you develop the essential soft skills you'll need to thrive.

Illustration of a woman happily showing how to become a web designer by creating a layout and design of websites to stay on trend

What do web designers do?

Web designers layout and design the online presence of businesses and individuals. They combine design theory and user experience research with their eye for beauty. Typical tasks include:

  • Create basic wireframes, sample pages, and mockups for client review and user testing.
  • Use color theory to create compelling visual effects.
  • Create navigation and user interface designs that result in a clean and intuitive user experience.
  • Coordinate website refreshes to align with recent trends and audience preferences.
  • Collaborate with copywriters and graphic designers to create high performing pages.
  • Translate SEO research into search-optimized websites and individual pages.

You'll need the right platforms to accomplish these tasks. Essential web design tools include:

  • CMS platforms such as WordPress.
  • Graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • Web coding apps such as Adobe Dreamweaver and Google Web Designer.
  • Prototyping tools such as Figma, InVision, and Adobe XD.

Every organization needs a website. By extension, every organization needs a web designer. They might hire in-house designers or work with an agency. As a result, you can find work in both individual marketing departments and in a variety of marketing agencies. You can also work as a freelance web designer in the public or private sectors.

What are the soft (human) skills needed to become a web designer?

Professional web designers use their technical skills and design skills every day. You'll also need at least basic web development knowledge. But soft skills are just as crucial if you want to succeed in your career journey. These essential skills include:

Creativity and pioneering new paths

Active websites exist in a competitive environment. No business wants an online presence that looks just like  the competition. Creating a unique website means embracing creative web design.

Talented web designers are by nature creative. You'll need to be comfortable pioneering new paths, even if that means thinking outside the box.

In addition, professional web designers use their external frame of reference to prioritize open-mindedness. Input from current design trends and other successful websites allows you to expand your horizon beyond your own preferences.

Verbal and written communication skills

As a web designer, you'll almost never build websites for yourself. Working on behalf of others means being able to communicate with them. That communication occurs throughout the design process:

  • Showcasing your expertise to potential clients.
  • Understanding the goals of a web design project.
  • Communicating project progress to all stakeholders.
  • Handing over a complete website at the end of the project.

Strong neutral communication skills are vital for each of these interactions. But you'll also need to balance affective communication as you learn about your client's needs, goals, and preferences.

Collaboration and interpersonal skills

In this profession, you're never on your own. Even in freelance web design, you'll constantly interact with others who are working to complete the same project. Potential members of the development team include:

  • Web developers, who write the code behind the website.
  • Graphic designers, who design the individual visuals that fit into the website layout.
  • Copywriters, who write the text and body copy on every page.
  • User experience experts, who research user preferences that inform the design.

On smaller teams, you may take on more than one role. For example, user experience design describes web design directly connected to UX research. But you'll still need to interact with others, including account managers along with current and prospective clients. The ability to share responsibility and embrace a sense of belonging is vital.

Time management and structural planning skills

Web design professionals hardly ever work on a single project at a time. And even when you do, you'll need to stick to a tight schedule.

That makes time management skills essential for this role. You'll build a client base not just based on the quality of your work, but your reliability.

While the daily work in a web design job is creative, you have to be methodical about the larger design journey. Especially as a freelance designer, your structural planning skills will be essential to getting projects done both right and on time.

How to develop these essential soft skills for web design?

As a web designer, you need to be familiar with essential tools such as CMS platforms and wireframing apps. You'll need to know at least the basic principles of digital marketing. Technical skills such as coding are also important. But it's the soft skills that will make or break a successful career.

Communication, time management, and creativity are crucial. So is the ability to work with others. Fingerprint for Success can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses in these areas so you can work towards a successful design career.

Take our free assessment today. After the assessment, you can set your career goal. From there, you'll get insights from AI Coach Marlee that are personalized to your goals and motivations. Meanwhile, insights about your blind spots let you know exactly where you can improve.

It's time to kickstart your career in the design field. Our free personal development coaching will also help you excel.

Pioneering new things

Bias and energy for being involved in revolutionary change from starting new projects and products to pioneering new industries, businesses and initiatives.

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You value verbal comms - in person meetings, phone calls, audio recordings, voice memos, podcasts etc.

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Collaboration & interpersonal skills

Collaboration involves a willingness to work and learn as a team, achieve common goals, and form meaningful bonds.

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Placeholder (Do not edit) You value verbal comms - in person meetings, phone calls, audio recordings, voice memos, podcasts etc.

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How long does it take to become a web designer?

The average time to become a web designer ranges between six months and four years. The exact duration depends on whether you self-teach your skills or enter a design degree program.

What higher education do I need to become a web designer?

Formal education is the most common path to entering this field. About two-thirds of all web designers have a bachelor's degree. Another 18% have an associate's degree.2

You can find some dedicated web design degree programs. More commonly, beginner web designers study graphic design and specialize from there.

But there are other ways into the profession, as well. For example, you can enroll in design bootcamps that teach basic coding skills and design theory. These boot camps typically take between three and six months, and you can learn some certifications along the way.

What licenses or certifications do you need to become a web designer?

While you don't need specific certifications to get a designer role, they can help you stand out for in-demand design jobs. The most common certifications focus on specific skills, such as:

  • HTML and HTML5 certifications
  • CSS (cascading style sheets) certifications
  • JavaScript certifications
  • UX certifications

Most of these certificates are free and offered by sites such as W3Schools and the JavaScript Institute. You can also earn them as part of design bootcamps offered by schools such as the University of North Texas in the US.

Part of your education also needs to include an understanding of graphic design and familiarity with web design tools. That includes Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and other design programs in the Adobe Creative Cloud, as well as CMS platforms such as WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace.

Finally, you'll need to know how to prototype web design mock-ups and wireframes. Tools such as InVision and Figma can help you quickly create wireframes that showcase your vision and layout to potential clients before you start to build the actual website.

What on-job internships do beginner web designers need?

Web design is a profession largely focused on practical experience. Finding internship opportunities helps you gain that experience before entering the job market.

Most in-person and online degrees include an internship requirement for that reason. If you're self-taught, consider seeking out an internship before looking for a full-time job.

Some of the world's most famous brands have structured web design internship programs. Examples include Nike, Apple, Google, and Disney.

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What are the career opportunities and outlook for web designers?

Web design and development is one of the fastest-growing fields in the United States. By 2031, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 23% job growth.1 That includes a projection of about 21,000 job openings every year, not counting freelance opportunities.

That demand extends to other economies as well. India, Germany, Australia, Canada, and the UK are all among the countries expecting increased demand over the next decade.

Keep in mind that web design is a globally applicable role as well. Websites around the world follow the same trends and best practices. As a freelancer, you can find clients across the world without leaving your home country.

Your role might change or evolve depending on the clients you work for. Some example roles include:

  • Web developers, who focus more specifically on the coding for the website structure.
  • User experience designers, who measure user attitudes and preferences to inform their designs.
  • User interface designers, who focus more specifically on navigational and other user-facing elements of the website.

Where can web designers work?

Web design is one of the few professions that's in demand in every industry. Every marketing strategy has online components, so every organization needs a website. That includes anyone from small businesses to the world's biggest corporations.

You'll find work in the private and public sectors, from a mom-and-pop shop to large marketing teams. You might get hired by an agency or as an in-house designer. Or you can keep your flexibility as a freelance designer.

Your career path will differ depending on the direction you take in the beginning:

  • As a freelancer, you'll take a few early assignments to build your portfolio and continue advancing to higher-paying clients.
  • As an in-house designer, you'll be a part of a larger marketing team and with experience advance into marketing leadership roles.
  • At a marketing or design agency, you'll start as a junior designer and move into increasingly senior positions but stay focused on web design.

Many professional web designers also freelance on the side in addition to their full-time job. Be sure to clear this with your employer to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

How much can web designers earn?

The average annual wage of a web designer is USD$50,900 per year.3 Expect your income to increase by about 25% on average once you move into a senior position.3

As a freelancer, you'll likely need to charge more to account for taxes and benefits. Most freelance web designers charge between USD$60 and USD$180 per hour.

The average salary of digital designers also changes around the globe:

  • Web designers in Japan earn just above USD$33,500.
  • Web designers in Australia earn just above USD$52,700.
  • Web designers in the U.K. earn just under USD$36,900.
  • Web designers in Germany earn just above USD$45,100.
  • Web designers in Switzerland earn just above USD$63,500.
  • Web designers in India earn just above USD$4,600.3

Keep in mind that the standard of living in these countries differs as well. A US$4,600 salary in India is still nearly double the national average income of USD$2,500.

Frequently asked questions

How to become a web designer without a degree?

If you want to become a web designer without attending an expensive university, you'll need to teach yourself the right skills. Attend a design bootcamp or undergo your own training. You'll need to prove your skills to potential clients and employers through certifications and a strong portfolio.

How to become a web designer in different countries across the world?

Becoming a web designer in the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or India aligns closely with the same career path in the U.S. Practical experience matters most, and best design practices (such as responsive web design) are equally needed in every country. As a result, you can find design roles in each of these countries on the strength of your portfolio and showcased expertise.

What education do you need to become a web designer?

Most web designers around the world have bachelor's degrees in graphic design, computer science, or communication. But as long as you can prove practical experience, you don't necessarily need this comprehensive education. Prospective employers just want to know your knowledge of fundamental design principles and how you design in relation to individual projects.

How much does it cost to become a web designer?

Your cost to enter the profession depends on the educational path you choose:

  • Individual coding and design courses and certifications are typically free.
  • Design bootcamps cost between USD$5,000 and USD$15,000 on average.
  • A college degree can range from USD$5,000 per year in India to USD$30,000 per year in the United States.

How to become a web designer without coding skills?

Basic programming skills are an advantage, but not absolutely necessary in this profession. Platforms such as Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress allow you to work with templates that require little coding knowledge. In lieu of coding, showcase your other skills, such as prototyping and UX design. Where possible, partner with a developer who can do the custom coding you need to meet client goals.

Who can become a web designer?

Given the right skills and motivation, anyone can become a web designer. If you can show that you can build beautiful websites in a portfolio, you'll have lots of opportunities for clients and projects. A formal degree can give you an in, but it's the examples of practical experience that will help you stand out.

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Trevor Folsom

All entrepreneurs love data for running their business, but fall short on having any data on themselves. Since 2011, I’ve found F4S to be an invaluable asset as an angel investor in backing founders.
Trevor Folsom, Entrepreneur & Angel Investor, Investible

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