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Web Designer

What Does a Web Designer Do (and How Do I Become One)?

As a web designer, you are responsible for big-picture decisions, like the menus listed on the site, and minor details, like which fonts, colors, and graphics to use. A web designer creates the layout and design of a website. In simple terms, a website designer makes a site look good. They use design programs to create visual elements. Website designers usually have expertise in UI, or user interface, which means they strategically design a site that’s intuitive and easy for visitors to navigate. If your interest is piqued, let’s dig into this career and see what it takes to become a successful web designer.

Google Web Designer overview

Website developer vs. website designer

It’s common for a website designer to be confused with a website developer. A developer uses coding languages to create the framework of a website. They build the structure and then turn the site to a designer to beautify it.

What do web designers do?

Before talking about the skills or education needed, let’s uncover the daily tasks of a website designer so you can see if it suits your interests. Regularly, a website designer will:

  • Design and layout websites
  • Think through the navigation of a site to provide the best user experience
  • Design sample pages and create mockups
  • Work in Adobe programs to create visuals, graphics, or animations
  • Register web domains
  • Organize files
  • Collaborate on website updates or “refreshes.”
  • Coordinate with writers and designers to create a site



The job outlook for web designers

The aesthetics of a website directly impacts a user’s opinion of the site and the company. Research shows it takes visitors less than one second to judge a website, and that first impression is often associated with the brand. Seventy-five percent of consumers admit to feeling a brand’s credibility based on its website, according to a Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab research summary.

As a result, companies are putting more emphasis on website design, and it’s reflected in the job market. Jobs in this field are growing 23 percent faster than the national average, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Web designer salary

For those exploring this job opportunity, there isn’t just growth in the field but good wages. The median annual pay for a web designer in the US is $64,209 [3]. This figure includes an average base salary of $59,317 annually and a median additional pay of $4,892 annually. Additional pay insights may consist of commissions, profit-sharing, and bonuses.

What kind of skills should you develop to become a website designer?

If you’re interested in becoming a website designer, there are specific skills you can develop to start down this career path. The following sections outline workplace and technical skills you can expand upon as an aspiring web designer.

Workplace web design skills

Workplace skills are also known as non-technical or soft skills. Here are a few examples:


A designer needs the ability to talk with a company about what they want, ask questions about the intended audience, and convey their ideas for an effective site. Communicating is just the start; companies also wish to have a responsive designer. A responsive designer keeps a company informed, explains issues as they arise, and discusses deadlines.

Time management

As a web designer, you might take a freelance approach where you work with various companies at once or for one company. Either way, you’ll need the ability to manage your time effectively to keep multiple projects moving.


A website designer often works with other people to create a site. There could be a copywriter, graphic designer, or even members of an IT department participating in website creation. If that’s the case, you’ll need the ability to listen, collaborate, and take constructive criticism.

Technical skills

Technical skills are specialized abilities that fall under the discipline of web design. Here are a few examples:

Visual design

A website designer’s core job is creating visual elements for a site, so having a firm grasp of design principles is a must. The graphic design incorporates best practices that hone in on proportions, symmetry, typography, and color systems.

UX design

UX design, or user experience design, influences how a person feels about visiting a site. A designer’s purpose is to create a layout that’s easy to navigate and visually pleasing, which results in a positive customer experience.

To generate the right experience for the audience, a designer often researches the audience and studies actions taken to build a website experience that fits a brand’s target market.

Knowledge of design programs

Website designers must have proficiency in design programs like Adobe Creative Cloud, CorelDraw Graphics Suite, or Inkscape. These programs are often used to create visual elements, produce mockups, and manipulate images, all needed in web design.

Some coding knowledge

A designer doesn’t write the code to make a site function, but it doesn’t hurt to know a little about HTML or CSS to make minor tweaks to a site. With a basic understanding, you’ll be able to manipulate templates, enhance fonts, or adjust the placements of objects easier.

Do you need a degree to land a job as a website designer?

Many website designers have a bachelor’s degree in website design or a related field, according to the BLS. However, a four-year degree isn’t the only path to this creative career; obtaining certifications is another option. Let’s take a closer look at both degree programs and certificates.

Degree programs

There are four-year degree programs that can provide the necessary training to become a website designer. Here’s a look at a few options:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science: A degree in computer science provides a well-rounded education in computing skills, problem-solving, and design work. Within some programs, like BSc Computer Science from the University of London, you can pick an area of focus, like user experience (UX), to narrow your skill set.
  • Bachelor’s degree in website design: Some students decide to get a specific degree in website design, which has a more narrow focus on design skills and layout principles that are all taught in concert with the technical programs that website designers use, like the Adobe programs mentioned earlier.

Web Design Certificate Programs and Courses

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree isn’t the only option; you can also explore certification programs or take courses to build your web design skills. Some employers may prefer candidates with relevant, up-to-date industry certificates. Here are a few pertinent examples:

  • Google UX Design Professional Certificate: Learn from industry leaders at Google in this series of courses that cover foundational UX concepts. Build job-ready skills like wireframing, prototyping, and user research as you complete projects for your design portfolio.

UI/UX Design Specialization: This series of courses from the California Institute of the Arts offers practical, skill-based instruction to help students understand the UI/UX development process, website architecture, site maps, wireframing, and best practices to create a delightful online experience for the end user.Responsive Website Development and Design Specialization: With a growing number of people using mobile devices to search online, understanding how to make responsive, mobile-ready websites is a valuable skill. This specialization from the University of London has students develop and design responsive sites with built-in multi-user experiences. While this class might lean more towards web development, understanding these skills will bolster your web design knowledge.

Web designer portfolio

With the right skills honed and educational background, securing a website designer job includes building an impressive online portfolio. To help, here’s a list of tips to curate the best examples possibilities:

  • Quality over quantity: A portfolio should contain your best work, but it’s essential to be selective. It’s better to showcase fewer, higher-quality sites than those that don’t showcase your best work.
  • Highlight the kind of work you want to do: Is there a particular industry that you’d like to serve? Do you want to focus on creating online stores instead of single-page sites for small businesses? Your portfolio should include what you want to do and showcase your passion for creating examples.
  • Provide context: Your portfolio is a visual representation of your best work and an opportunity to provide context about your impact and projects. Consider providing a quick three-to-four-sentence description that explains the site’s purpose, its challenges, and why it’s in your portfolio.
  • Update it regularly: It’s a gSettingcheduled time once a quarter to update your portfolio. Even if it is a good idea, if you are not adding new work, you might have additional context to add or edits to make based on your ongoing learnings and goals. It’s much easier to update when things are fresh in your mind versus months or years later.

Are you still building your portfolio?

Building a portfolio takes time. If you need to fill the gaps in your portfolio, consider enrolling in a Guided Project in web design on Coursera. You can browse relevant options in the list below:

  • Design and Develop a Website using Figma and CSS
  • Build a website using Wix Artificial Design Intelligence
  • Develop a Company Website with Wix
  • Use WordPress to Create a Job for Your Business

Take the next step toward a career in web design with Coursera

Are you ready to take the next step toward building a career as a website designer? If so, consider earning a credential from an industry leader with the Meta Front-End Developer Professional Certificate. By the end of this 100 percent online, self-paced course, you’ll create a professional portfolio to use in your job search.