How to become a web designer

Everything you need to know about becoming a web designer

Are you looking for a career to express your creative side? Or are passionate about helping local businesses grow online? Website designers use creative and technical skills to design both new websites and revamp existing ones. This ever-changing industry is becoming more and more sought after in regard to education and skill and there are plenty of routes to go down if this is something you're interested in. Here's everything you need to know about becoming a web designer including what the role entails, how to get there and everything in between!

What our guide will cover:

  • What is a web designer?
  • What does a web designer do?
  • Education and qualifications
  • Portfolio and creative CV
  • Salary expectations
  • Interview and career advice

What is a web designer?

A website designer plans, creates and codes for web pages and sites, utilising technical and non-technical skills for brands, companies and clients. They're responsible for how a website looks, operates and the maintenance surrounding it, considering both the aesthetics and functionality. Over time, this job role has enhanced in terms of what's expected and what resources are available, so whilst some people associate web designers with online websites, this career also includes appliances such as mobile, tablets, apps and automation.

Job description

So, what exactly does a web designer do? If this is a career that you're passionate about or want to learn more about, you'll want to know exactly what you'll be doing. As a website designer, you'll be meeting clients and planning and identifying their wants and needs when it comes to web design. This could include outlining services, designing graphics and animations, planning page content and utilising numerous content management systems.

Being a web designer is much more than just designing websites. This career involves a great cope of responsibilities, also involving legal policies, standards and search engine optimisation.

On the next page we'll be looking at a few things you might be involved in as a web designer.

A few things you might be involved in as a web designer

  • Design and plan the aesthetics of a site
  • Develop and maintain websites
  • Attend meetings with clients and companies
  • Utilise SEO
  • Debugging code
  • Editing and writing online content
  • Analysis statistics
  • Report technical issues

As a website designer, there will be plenty of collaboration involved and many tasks overlap during the website design process. You will collaborate with graphic designers, content executives, web developers and copywriters in order to produce the final outcome.

Education and qualifications

Now you know what a web designer is and what the job entails, you need to know how to get there and how to succeed. There are a number of different ways you can obtain the right qualifications and experience. Although a formal qualification isn't essential, many companies look for high levels of creativity and expertise. Whether you go down the university or apprenticeship route, the main requirement is to be passionate, resourceful and proficient in your craft.

Let's take a deeper look into the different routes you can go down, what qualifications you need and how to start your journey into becoming a website designer.

University Degree

One option you can take is the higher education route. By obtaining a degree in subjects such as web design and development, multimedia design, digital media and computer science, you will be given advanced resources and support to prepare you for working life. University is the ideal way to learn, grow and find your niche whilst also working towards a portfolio, finding work placements and building external connections. Many universities also offer additional subjects alongside web design such as communication, technology and advertising in order to widen your skillset and offer different employment opportunities.

There is also the opportunity to complete a sandwich course at university, which means you will study for 2 years, have a 1-year work placement and then complete your final work. This process provides some real-life work experience and also the opportunity to have a career at the end of it. Make sure to research university conditions including entry requirements, portfolios and UCAS details.


Apprenticeships are the perfect way for those who like to learn as they go and benefit from hands-on experience. An apprenticeship is typically spread across 2 years and can either be completed independently with a company or alongside a university degree. Many people go down the apprenticeship route as they get paid whilst they work and can gather real-life experience and knowledge. At the end of an apprenticeship, you do still get a qualification but being an apprentice means missing out on the uni life which many people desire.

Apprenticeships in web design include:

  • Level 3 Content Producer
  • Level 3 VFX artist
  • Creative digital designer
  • Digital and technology professional degree

Working your way up

As web designing doesn't always require a qualification, many people start as an assistant or in a small agency and begin their web design career by climbing the corporate ladder. It's important to remember that this won't be done overnight, and can often take many years to get to where you want to be, but nevertheless, this route means you're already in the industry, you can build an impressive portfolio and you already have that work-life advantage.

Work placements

Depending on where you are in life, whether you're still in college and not sure what you want to do or just started your website design degree, getting some work experience could really offer a helping hand when it comes to interviews and future aspirations. Work experience looks good. It shows you're willing to go the extra mile to find knowledge and also offers a number of personal benefits such as confidence, skill set development and adaptability. You can go on a work placement as young as 13 ( check the hours and laws regarding each age range ) and this could include working in an agency for a month, being an intern through the summer holidays or doing freelance work for an online business.

Building your portfolio and creative CV

The creative industry is all about showing off what you can do and being innovative with your thinking. When applying to both a course and employment, some sort of portfolio or creative CV will be necessary to show off your skills and what you can bring to the table. A portfolio can be anything from sketchbook drawings to an online website. A creative CV on the other hand combines the idea of a portfolio and a traditional resume. This document will showcase both your creative skills but also details such as about you, your work experience, contact details and references. The best part about it is there are no rules and you can really make this your own.

Here are just a few things to include in your web design portfolio:

  • Include your own branding and logo
  • Case study examples
  • Artwork
  • Examples of software you can use
  • Courses and achievements
  • Relevant extra curricula

Most web designers find it easier to present their portfolio through a website, and this demonstrates the job within itself. This way, you are already showcasing a webpage you have designed and all the work is more than likely going to be digital so is easily transferable.

How much does a web designer make?

The salary that comes with being a web designer will depend on the company you work for, what exactly the role entails, your personal skill set and what stage of your career you're at. A website designer can earn anything from £18,000 to £40,000 with this going even higher once you reach the very top. Like most jobs and industries, your salary will grow over time along with your development and experience. There is also the option to become a freelance web designer which means outsourcing your work to businesses and agencies and working for yourself. This salary will depend on how many clients you get and what you're own personal rate is.

Interview and career advice

Have you got your portfolio up and running and recently completed your last year of study? Now's the time to get yourself out there, apply to as many jobs as you can and land your perfect career!

Web design interview tips

Interviews can be daunting, especially for those who've never done one before, but the good thing is, you'll be surrounded by like-minded, creative people who are eager to see your work! Although most interviews include the standard questions such as why you want this job or why are you a good fit, a web design interview will delve much deeper into the technical side of things and focus on your visions.

On the next page you'll find a list of questions you may be asked in a web design interview.

Some common questions you could be asked in a web design interview:

  • What's your working style? E.g independent learning or teamwork?
  • Name a project you are most proud of
  • Where do you go for inspiration?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What software and devices do you typically use?
  • What's your process when contacted by a client?
  • Are you familiar with the software we use?

When going into an interview, it's crucial to do your research. Especially for a job like this. The interviewer may ask you questions about their website or business, so doing some homework beforehand will certainly help. You must also make sure to recap the job description and application as this will give you a heads-up on the type of things they might mention.

Your career as a web designer

Congratulations! You've completed all the steps above and made it into your first role as a web designer! Whether this role is a web design assistant, junior web designer or you've decided to go solo, you should be super proud to of got yourself into such a competitive industry. Starting a new job, meeting new people and entering the working world is scary, but everyone's been there and it's just as important for them to make you feel comfortable as it is for you to do a good job.

Top tips when starting your new role

  • Be prepared: take everything you might need on your first day including any personal documents, stationary, pre-booked holiday information, banking and devices
  • Be confident: everyone will be nervous at the start of a new job, but make sure to present yourself as confident and happy to be there!
  • Talk to everyone: make sure to introduce yourself to the team and make effort with those you'll be collaborating with.
  • Be open: you might find that you're doing other responsibilities or tasks which you didn't expect. But this is all beneficial and good for your progression.
  • Ask questions: there's nothing wrong with asking questions, in fact, this ensures mistakes are limited and is highly recommended in any industry.

And finally...

Just as a heads up, if you've completed all your qualifications and suddenly have a change of heart in regards to the career you want, this is also ok as web design is such an adaptable skill which is relevant to a wide range of job roles. As the world is filled with tech, the skills you've learnt can be applied elsewhere and will definitely not be wasted! Other jobs you could apply to include graphic design, UX designer, backend development, digital marketing, IT technician, animation and any other relevant role.