how to become a web designer (2024 Guide)

Is Web Design a Good Career?

BrainStation’s Web Designer career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative career in Web Design. Read on for an overview of Web Designer career paths and how to transition into web design from related fields like web development and UX design.

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Yes, Web Design is a good career. Not only are Web Designers currently in high demand by employers, the field is expected to grow by 27 percent by the year 2024. That demand will ensure salaries and job satisfaction remain high for Web Designers moving forward.

What Are Career Paths in Web Design?

Web Design is a dynamic field and once you acquire web design skills, a Web Designer has the luxury of choosing between a number of different potential career paths.

Certainly, you could get hired as a Web Designer and continue on the web design career ladder until you’re a Senior Web Designer. The average Senior Web Designer salary is $80,000 including bonuses. Alternatively, you could learn to code (if you don’t know how already) and pursue the Web Developer job track. Senior Web Developers bring home $88,000 on average.

Another especially lucrative career path option would be to push deeper into creating user-centric experiences by learning UX skills and pursuing a high paying job as a UX/UI Designer. The average Senior UX Designer makes over $100,000, plus more than $30,000 in bonuses.

Other related senior web design jobs include Senior Product Designer, Senior Brand Designer, and Senior Visual Designer.

Demand for Web Designers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Web Designers is expected to rise 8 percent by 2029, much faster than the overall rate of growth for all jobs across all industries. This demand, they say, will be driven by the rising popularity of mobile devices and eCommerce technologies.

Common Web Designer Jobs

Here are some of the most in-demand jobs in web design:

  • Web Designer
  • Front-End Web Developer
  • Software Developer
  • UX Designer
  • UI Designer
  • Visual Designer
  • Information Architect
  • Graphic Designer

How Do You Transition From Web Design to UX Design?

Making the move from web design to UX design can sometimes be quite straightforward, especially if you have some experience with user research in your web design work. And even if you’ve never handled user research in your job as a Web Designer, don’t panic. You’ll be able to make the leap once you’ve spent time studying UX and practicing some UX skills during your web design work.

Here are our tips for making the transition:

Consider your transferable skills

The key to a successful career transition is leveraging your transferable skills. The good news? Much of the web designing skills you developed as a Web Designer will carry over to your work as a UX Designer. That’s the biggest benefit of making this particular transition.

Talk to working UX Designers

If you’re working at a tech company, you almost certainly work alongside a UX Designer. Have you ever sat them down and picked their brain about how they got where they are? If you’re not lucky enough to have any UX Designers in your professional network, try reaching out to some on LinkedIn.

Get educated

If you want to study UX design, there are no shortage of options from online tutorials to courses and certificate programs. UX design bootcamps are springing up all over the country, promising to give you all the technical and theoretical education you need in just a few months’ time. Although you don’t necessarily have to get a formal education to pick up the skills necessary, it might impress potential employers. BrainStation, for instance, reports that 95 percent of its UX design grads find work within six months of graduation – and with your web design experience, you’d be even more appealing to employers.

Polish your prototyping skills

You might have some prototyping skills (such as creating native prototypes), but prototyping in UX design is different from prototyping in web development — now, you’re not thinking about creating a final product so much as constant iterations of prototyping.

Start with a pen and paper. Sketching is an essential part of the UX design process. It’ll also help you communicate your ideas.

Practice your design skills

Now that you’ve mastered the fundamental theories and tools of UX Design, it’s time to get your hands dirty on a real project. After you learn fundamental theories and tools, the next thing you need to do is get hands-on experience. If you’re already employed as a Web Designer, there might be opportunities at your current workplace to get involved on the UX side of a project. That’s a great way to learn.

If that’s not the case, do your own projects just for the sake of practice or see if you can find some freelance work.

Build a UX design portfolio

When they’re hiring UX Designers, employers mainly consider two things: your portfolio and work experience. A polished portfolio is crucial to getting a job in UX design. Your portfolio should provide context for each piece with information like project goals, target audience, and time estimation. Your case studies should shed light on how you solve problems. Tell stories about your projects.

Network with UX Designers

Networking is essential in UX design as it is in all industries. Seek out local UX design networking events and meetups. If you do pursue a formal education in some form or another, keep in touch with classmates and instructors and let them know you’re on the market. Once you start forming a professional network of UX design contacts, a job will likely be soon to follow.

How Do You Transition From Web Design to Web Development?

Making the career move from web design to web development is one of the most natural and smooth career transitions a person can make. Without oversimplifying, moving into web development careers largely comes down to learning to code.

Here are our tips for making the transition:

Leverage your transferable skills

The reason this is an easy transition is that you likely already have most of the skills needed to be a Front-End Developer since you’ve been working on the front-end of websites as a Web Designer. Assuming you did use code to create those pages, your existing portfolio can be tweaked so that it’s still useful in your career as a Web Developer.

Learn web development fundamentals

If you want to study to be a Web Developer, there are countless ways you can go about doing it. You do not need a degree to find work as a Web Developer, and in fact, there is no specific college or university degree for a career in web development. There are lots of online courses and other free resources that can help you begin to build the skills you need to become a Web Developer.

Many Web Developers trained in coding bootcamps. Research indicated that 23,000 students graduated from a coding bootcamp in 2019 and it seemed to be worth it. At BrainStation, 90 percent of graduates are employed in their fields soon after graduation.

Learn a variety of programming languages

This is probably the biggest thing separating you from being a Web Developer. If you don’t already, you should learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL, Python, and jQuery. Beyond programming languages and libraries, becoming comfortable with commonly used tools like Git, or other version control software is a skill every Web Developer should have. Version control is a method of tracking different versions of code to ensure you can access it or restore it at any time.

Choose a specialization

All Web Developers are categorized into three main types:

  • Front-End Developers, who work on the “client-side” of web development, meaning any portion of the site or app that users interact with. This can include a site’s layout, design, and the way users interact with it.
  • Back-End Developers, who work on the “server-side” of web development. This is focused on the way a site functions, and can include databases, servers, networks and hosting, and more.
  • Full-Stack Developers, who are familiar with both front-and back-end development and work with both sides of a website.

Start working on projects

With a grasp of different programming languages, you’re ready to begin building. As you go, you’ll gain experience using an ever-growing set of skills. The best way to improve these skills is simply to start messing around – the more you use them, the better you’ll be.

Create a Web Developer portfolio

A riveting portfolio that shows off your strongest skills is your best tool when applying for web development jobs. Your portfolio should include a diverse selection of only your best work. Emphasize the skills that most make you stand out – not just in the work you include in your portfolio, but in how the portfolio itself is presented. And show your process. Employers aren’t looking only at the quality of work you produce, but at how you approach problems. Don’t be afraid to frame each example as a case study, providing a narrative of your thought process and the problem you were trying to solve with the project.

Network with Web Developers

Networking is important in Web Development too. Seek out local networking events and meetups. If you do pursue a formal education in some form or another, keep in touch with classmates and instructors and let them know you’re on the market. Once you start forming a professional network of contacts, a job will surely be on the horizon.