Web Design School and Career Guide

Use this handy guide to learn all about Web design schools and careers.

Are You Interested in a Career in Web Design?

Web designers help companies create user-friendly interfaces and make their websites and mobile apps as appealing as possible. This makes them indispensable in today’s business environment, where a company’s online and mobile presence can make a significant difference to its bottom line. Find out more about Web design schools and careers, and take the first step toward this exciting field by getting the training you’ll need.

What Makes a Good Web Designer?

Take a look at some of the innate traits and skills you’ll need to work as a Web designer:

You are… You should have…
Creative Communication skills
Original Technical skills
Visual Business skills
Detail oriented Listening skills
Adaptable Analytical skills
Able to handle criticism Time-management skills
Customer oriented Marketing knowledge

Choosing Web Design Schools

Choosing where to go to college is a very personal decision. So when you’re looking for a Web design program, it’s important to know what to look for so you get a quality education that suits your needs and goals.

Read about common web page design courses.

Every respectable web page design program has a few characteristics in common. Whether you intend to earn a certificate, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in web page design, your education will include solid training in the fundamentals of art and design as well as the basic software and technological skills needed to be a web designer.

Web Page Design Degrees

The majority of web design bachelor degree programs will include courses such as the following in their core curriculum:

  • 2-Dimensional Design
  • Introduction to Web Page Design
  • Writing for the Web
  • Digital Illustration
  • Art or Design History
  • Image Editing
  • Audio and Video Technology for Multimedia
  • User Interface Design
  • Interactive Design Fundamentals

In addition to basic classes, such as the ones listed above, bachelor’s degree programs will go into further detail on the same topics and explore more advanced subjects such as scripting, usability design, animation, programming and communication design. Many degree programs also enable you to choose a specialty such as graphic production for the web or multimedia design.

Certificates in Web Page Design

Certificate-level programs in web design may be generalized, consisting of basic web design classes, or they may focus on a specialty within web page design such as programming or multimedia design. Web designers who already possess a degree sometimes pursue a certificate in order to bulk up their skills in a particular area.

Here are some common specialized courses offered in certificate programs:

  • XHTML and CSS
  • Flash
  • Dreamweaver Design
  • Javascript
  • Database Development
  • Content Management Systems

Both certificates and degree programs may also include portfolio classes as well as work-study or practicum opportunities.

Choosing a Program

Ultimately, though, you’ll want to make sure your education in web page design focuses on courses that will help you reach your employment goal, whether that’s web design, web development, interface design or webmastering. You’ll also want the school to be accredited and the curriculum to adhere to the latest professional standards in the industry. A web page design program that meets these criteria will give you a head start on your career.

Find out what an online Web design program is like.

Why an Online Web Design Degree?

What could be more fitting than studying website design using online learning methods? Converting this particular degree program into an online format isn’t a stretch.

Earning a degree online can give you a competitive edge in a field where many website designers are self-taught. If you’re considering an online degree, make sure the program is accredited. This, too, will give you a competitive edge.

What Degrees Are Available Online?

Just like traditional schools, those interested in getting a formal website design education online can earn a certificate or associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Can I Take My Entire Program Online?

The good news is yes. More and more colleges and universities are offering complete online and accredited design degree programs. You won’t miss out on anything by studying at home.

Will My Courses Be the Same as in a Classroom Degree Program?

Online programs strive to design courses that provide the same comprehensive education you’d get at a brick-and-mortar school. Plus, because the Web industry has ever-changing trends and standards, new classes are continually being added and updated.

Besides the online lectures and reading materials that you can expect in just about any degree program—on or off campus—online website design classes often include multimedia presentations and interactive online environments where you can practice your design skills. Your professors will then critique your design projects, as they would in an in-person class.

What Will You Study Online?

In terms of course content, you’ll learn how to use software programs that are standard in the website design industry, such as Adobe Dreamweaver and Photoshop. You’ll also learn the basics of Web programming languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Typical courses offered in online website design programs include:

  • Web, Mobile and Tablet User Experience
  • Digital Commerce and eBusiness
  • Digital Imaging
  • Internet and Web Architecture
  • Usability in Website Design
  • Web Analytics
  • Motion Graphics
  • Visual Design

In addition to tuition, you may need to purchase your own design software. Website design programs usually specify minimum technology requirements for software and hardware.

Find out what to expect in the industry when you start a web design job.

The Future of Web Design

A web design job gives you a front-row seat to a fascinating and perpetually evolving world. As companies continue to find new ways to sell their services and products and get their messages out in the virtual universe, the demand for educated web designers is rising as the need for employees with the right web design training becomes increasingly critical to the way companies do business.

Web design jobs require a diverse combination of skills, mixing art with technology languages such as HTML/XHTML, JavaScript, ASP, and editing programs such as Photoshop. Web designers utilize these skills to build websites that help their companies market an image, a message, a product or a service, while enhancing the user’s experience.

Salaries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for graphic designers is $44,150. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. Since the technology is constantly evolving and new programs are created every year, web designers are always learning and picking up new skills to increase their value in the market.

Job Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, job opportunities in web design are expected to increase 7 percent through 2022, which is slower than average. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. More and more companies are regularly seeking new college graduates with the latest techniques in web design, and the BLS states that people with skills in web design, mobile and other technologies will find the most opportunity.

Web Design Job Paths

Aspiring web designers should expect to face competition in the job market. There are many talented people looking for web design jobs, so despite the exponential growth in the industry, opportunities for web designers will see a growth rate only slightly higher than the average compared to all other careers. Most active web designers agree that the best way to get into the industry is to create a website and build a portfolio.

  • Self-employment is common in this field
  • Most web designers find their first jobs as employees in firms
  • Web design careers generally begin in entry-level positions performing website maintenance and quality assurance tasks
  • Successful web designers frequently have to work their way up to more senior positions
Is a Web designer career for you?

Companies that want Internet customers’ business—whether to buy their products or services or to read their content—need Web design and UX skills that clearly lead users through each step of the process and look great while doing it. In a website design job, you’ll play an increasingly important role in the success of businesses that rely on the Internet for marketing, sales, or to get their message out to the public.

Typical Duties in Web Design Jobs

Web designers draw upon their knowledge of art, business and technology to produce websites that satisfy the needs of both businesses and Internet users. Web design jobs involve a wide array of tasks. Depending on your projects, you may find yourself doing the following kinds of things on a day-to-day basis:

  • Designing various elements of a site—from graphics to navigation and flow using scripting languages, CMS and digital media
  • Making sure the user interface is logical and intuitive
  • Communicating with customers to understand their vision and incorporating feedback
  • Ensuring that sites meet technology requirements and code meets industry standards and is compatible/responsive with all browsers, mobile devices, tablets and operating systems
  • Performing site maintenance for customers and website updates
  • Backing up files for recovery in case of problems
  • Training customers to maintain their sites

Skills Needed

  • Technical Aptitude: To succeed in a website design job, you’ll need to be able to code using HTML. You may also need to know XHTML, Javascript, Flash and other coding methods. Knowledge of graphics-editing software, such as Photoshop, and graphics-creating software, such as InDesign, may also be necessary. In addition to these things, aspiring web designers may also find it useful to understand server side technologies such as PHP and .Net.
  • Creativity and Graphic Design Skills: Successful Web designers learn to tailor their creativity and graphic skills to suit their client’s or employer’s needs. Good websites are easy to use, which means that form needs to suggest function in the online world.
  • People Skills: Whether you work in a large company, where your main interactions are with team members, or you work as an independent designer, you’ll need to communicate effectively with others to meet the needs of your employer or client. There may be times when you must interact with people who can’t communicate what they want or whose specific and exacting demands restrict your creative license. Being able to deal with these situations will help you succeed in the Web design field.

Additionally you’ll need great critical thinking skills, good listening skills, decision-making abilities and operations analysis skills to fully succeed in a career as a Web designer.

Taking the First Step

Comparing Web design schools and choosing the right one for you are important first steps in your journey to getting the Web design job you want. As you look at website design training programs, keep your priorities in mind. Should you choose a shorter program that will allow you to enter the workforce sooner? Or do you want the well-rounded education that a bachelor’s degree in Web design can provide? The decision is yours.

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