How to become a Web Designer. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Web Designer do?
Web designers use both creative and technical skills to build or revamp websites. They must be able to picture how a site will look (at the ‘front end’), and also understand how it will work (at the ‘back end’).
As a web designer, you could work on anything from an interactive educational resource, to an online shopping site. Your main duties would include:
- meeting the client to discuss what they want their site to do and who it is aimed at
- preparing a design plan, showing the site structure and how the different parts link together
- deciding which text, colours and backgrounds to use
- laying out pages, positioning buttons, links and pictures, using design software
- adding multimedia features like sound, animation and video
- testing and refining the design and site features until everything works as planned
- uploading the site to a server for publication online.
Depending on the project, you may be contracted to maintain your client’s website once it is up and running.
You would normally work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may have to work extra hours to meet deadlines or when problems occur with a website. You would arrange your own working hours if self-employed.
You would work indoors in an office or in your own home at a computer. You may spend some of your time travelling to meet clients.
How much does a Web Designer earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Starting salaries can be between £18,000 and £22,000 a year.
- Experienced designers can earn up to £31,000.
- Senior designers, and those with specialist skills, can earn over £42,000.
Self-employed web designers set their own rates.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You do not usually need qualifications to become a web designer. However, most designers have experience in other design fields, or have taken training in web design, either through college or by teaching themselves.
You will need a good working knowledge of HTML, and experience in writing web pages in a combination of codes. Having a working knowledge of the following could be useful:
- Flash and Fireworks
- HTML 5
Colleges offer courses on these programs, and you can also find many online tutorials, which are often free to use.
You could take one of the following qualifications, which provide a good grounding in web design, interactivity and internet technology:
- BTEC Interactive use of Media levels 1 to 3
- OCR ITQ levels 1 to 3
- OCR Creative iMedia levels 1 to 3
- City & Guilds E-Quals IT Users awards (7266) – Level 2 (Diploma) and Level 3 (Advanced Diploma).
You could also take a higher level course, for example a foundation degree, BTEC HNC/HND or degree in a design or multimedia subject. Relevant subjects include:
- web design and development
- multimedia design
- digital media development
- interactive computing.
To search for colleges and universities offering foundation degrees, HNC/HNDs and degrees, visit the UCAS website.
You will need to show evidence of your creative and technical skills, usually in the form of a CD, DVD or ‘live’ websites you have worked on. You could gain this evidence from college, paid work or volunteering.
To find out more about careers in web design, visit the E-skills UK, British Computer Society and Big Ambition websites.
Training and Development
It is important that you continue to develop your skills and knowledge throughout your career, as the technology and standards move on quickly. You could work towards industry certification, such as the Certified Internet Web Professional (CIW) Master Designer course. See the CIW website for more details.
- Certified Internet Web Professional (CIW)
If you want more flexibility and control over your designs, some knowledge of coding, scripting and programming would be useful. This includes:
- HTML, DHTML and XML
- Active Server Pages (ASP)
- PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor also known as Personal Home Page).
The UK Web Design Association (UKWDA) is a free membership organisation for web professionals. You can find numerous links to online training resources, web-related issues and job searches on its website. Non-members can also access these links. For more information visit the UKWDA website.
- UK Web Design Association (UKWDA)
Skills and Knowledge
- an understanding of internet programming and scripting languages
- a good working knowledge of the main web design applications
- strong creative skills
- good problem-solving skills, together with a logical approach to work
- the ability to explain technical matters clearly to people who may have little knowledge of IT
- an ability to work to deadlines
- an understanding of legislation and guidelines for website accessibility
- a willingness to keep up to date with changes in technology and software
- a working knowledge of equipment such as scanners, and digital photo, video and audio equipment.
You will need good business management and negotiating skills if self-employed.
You could work for web design companies, in the IT departments of large public and private organisations, or as a freelance designer.
If you work for a company, you could progress in your career by moving into design team management, or by expanding your skills to become a web content manager. See the related job profiles below for more details about these roles.
With experience, you could set up your own web design business.