how to become a web designer (2024 Guide)

What Skills Does a Web Designer Need?

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 the hard, technical skills and soft skills that all Web Designers need.

Become a Web Designer

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To succeed as a Web Designer, you really need an elusive mix of both technical – or hard – skills as well as soft skills, since it’s a job that requires top-notch communication and excellent collaborative skills.

What Does a Web Designer Need to Know?

A Web Designer needs to know web design theory and industry best practices, search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, and how to work collaboratively with clients and stakeholders to make sure you’re meeting their needs.

Learning web design theory is important because there are certain foundational principles for creating excellent websites, including color theory, structure and user experience. If you don’t attend college, you can still study this theory through a coding bootcamp or online course.

SEO is an increasingly in-demand skill. As the visual architect of your site, you’ll be responsible for ensuring that it has all the elements in place to rank high in search.

Client and stakeholder management is another skill necessary to thrive as a Web Designer. Web Designers rarely have full autonomy over their creations and need to work collaboratively to ensure buy-in on a new design.

Also, most Web Designers need at least some knowledge of commonly used programming languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery. This is probably most important for freelancers, while Web Designers working at bigger companies or an agency will more likely work on a team that includes Programmers and Graphic Designers.

Technical Skills Every Web Designer Needs

There are a number of technical skills that any Web Designer needs to succeed, including:

Visual design

Visual design is the art of selecting the right design principles to boost the look and enhance the feel of a website. Web Designers with advanced visual designing skills tend to do extremely well. Visual design is closely linked to user experience, only that it’s more related to the esthetic elements.

The most common tools used in visual designing are grid systems, spacing typography, color psychology, and type hierarchy.


The user experience (UX) of a website can be described as the feeling visitors have during their end-to-end interaction with your website. UX is one of the most crucial factors in defining a website’s success, especially as design philosophy becomes increasingly user-focused.

A Web Designer who understands UX practices will always approach his designs from a user-first perspective. Conducting research is a crucial part of the UX process, and then using those insights to improve things like navigation, content, colors, and so on.

These days, users are too important for this to be the focus solely of a UX Specialist. Any Web Designer needs to think about how an online user will interact with their website.

Design software

Like any other professional, you need the right tools to get the job done. Web Designers have no shortage of software to help them thrive in the business, and you should definitely familiarize yourself with all the industry-standard design software. Tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Sketch are ones that almost all Designers use for important parts of their job like creating mockups, designing logos and images, and of course modifying and enhancing photos.

A good Web Designer should learn how to use them.


For a long time, Web Designers believed that coding was something they wouldn’t have to deal with. If that was ever true, it’s not now: Web Designers are expected at minimum to understand HTML (HyperText Markup Language).

HTML helps you place and optimize your content on the web, giving it structure and form. You’ll need it to get content up on your site.


CSS or Cascading Style Sheets is a specific code that tells web browsers how to format and style the HTML components of a page.

To put it in simpler terms, CSS helps you improve the esthetic appeal of your content. Using this coding language, you can change fonts, tweak colors, add/remove backgrounds, and much more.

Soft Skills Every Web Designer Needs

Time management

In a world of tight deadlines, time management skills are crucial. The rapid pace of project iterations means that designs must be flexible and quick on their feet to respond to requests for changes. Good Web Designers need to manage their schedules and follow up on project needs. They also need to be flat-out efficient in their workflow.


Communication skills are an asset that every professional – in any field – should strive to develop, but they’re especially important to Web Designers. You must be able to effectively convey your ideas into clear language, so you and your clients or stakeholders can discuss, work, and be on the same page.

Similarly, since you’re definitely going to be working collaboratively with other teams, you need to be able to provide consistent updates on project progress.

Digital marketing

Digital marketing skills are a huge asset for a Web Designer. You’re a vital part of a digital marketing strategy, and if you can take the knowledge and skills you have and learn to adapt to the marketplace, you’re going to make yourself very valuable to a potential employer.

Improve your SEO and social media marketing skills and you’ll have a bigger voice as you develop a design.

Client management

Whether you’re an employee or a freelancer, you will have to work with clients or stakeholders to create websites that they find appealing and functional. You need to understand how to communicate your ideas to people who might not have a technical background, and also how to manage expectations while still trying to give them projects that turn out even better than they hoped. And, if you’re designing directly for clients as a freelancer, you should have a plan for making sure that your cash flow and project backlog are both healthy and realistic.