Image of a Web designer
Web designers put information at our fingertips and make it engaging and interactive.
Design Career Guide

Web Designer

It’s been more than twenty years since the Web was born, but there’s never been a better time for Web design. Today, a strong Web presence is a necessity for businesses large and small, from Starbucks to your local computer repair shop. Working in tandem with programmers/developers, Web designers are responsible for the layout and look and feel of a Web site. They play an essential role in imagining and implementing the sites you access on your computer or mobile device.

View More Creative Jobs: Graphic Designer | Fashion Designer | Animator | Marketing Manager | Art Director | Illustrator | Multimedia Designer | UX/UI Designer | Photographer

Web  Designers: Visual Architects for a Mobile and Desktop Web

Q: WHAT DOES A WEB DESIGNER DO?
Web designers create layout designs for Web pages, creating interfaces that have the right blend of information, graphics, structure, and navigation. Though today’s large sites depend on advanced programming, a Web designer typically focuses on the visual side of creating the end product.

A Web Designer must be highly computer savvy and familiar with Web scripting languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that are used to structure and present content, and make it interactive. The ability to produce rich media content such as video or Flash movies or applications can also enhance your value as a designer.

Web design is a field of constant innovation and reinvention. To stay competitive in the field, Web designers must be aware of changing Web standards, issues such as browser and device compatibility, and current best practices for usability and accessibility.

Q: WHERE CAN I RESEARCH JOBS?
It should come as no surprise that Web design jobs can be conveniently researched online. Of the sites listed on our Job Boards page, Authentic Jobs and Smashing Jobs are both prime sources for Web jobs. (Smashing Jobs also has many international Web design jobs.)

Q: WHAT ARE THE CAREER AND SALARY EXPECTATIONS?

$63,490 – The 2014 median salary for Web developers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

The 2014 median salary for Web developers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Web designers may work for large or small design firms, creating Web sites for a variety of clients. In a freelance or small business environment, Web designers may take on the role of both designer and developer, planning the site layout and coding or programming various elements of a Web site. A single Web designer may work full time managing and maintaining a Web site for a single company or organization (like a clothing retailer, a charity, or a university), working with programmers to complete “back-end” projects. So don’t underestimate the power of one!

According to the AIGA/Aquent 2013 Survey of Salaries, the median annual salary for a Web designer (Web/interactive) in the United States in 2014 was $58,000. (The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the 2014 median salary for a Web developer as $63,490.) The Federal Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts that overall employment for Web developers will grow by 27 percent from 2014 to 2024, growing much faster than the overall economy. Fueling this growth will be a demand for mobile site design.

Q: HOW DO I GET STARTED?
If you’re a complete newbie, take an online tutorial or class in HTML as soon as possible, and try to build a basic Web site. Do you like coding? Are you fascinated by the problem-solving that’s required? Web design requires extreme tech savvy, patience, and curiosity, and while it’s easy to be seduced by the “front end” of Web design, your visual flair must by accompanied by attention to detail for you to succeed as a Web designer.Polaroid image of web designing

Ultimately, if you’re serious about a career in Web design, you may need a formal education or training program to enter the field. An Associate degree is recommended as a minimum qualification for Web developers by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Web design changes so fast that an intensive academic program that blends coding, software, and visual design can provide an effective solution. You need to have a balanced skill set, while ensuring that your visual design skills are strong enough to earn you the title Web Designer.

At the end of any Website Design program, you are looking to graduate with a good grasp of current technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript), a mastery of Adobe Creative Suite, and a set of effective visual interface designs. You will also want to have completed Web site projects under your belt.

Computer keyboard with with button
Check out our top 10 Job Boards for Creative Pros: /career-center/job-boards/

Sample Job Description

Do you have what it takes? Here is a typical entry-level job description for a Web designer:

Web Designer
Happy & Healthy, Inc. – Washington, DC

Job Description: Happy & Healthy is seeking an energetic Web designer to join our in-house team. Responsibilities include website design, marketing, and interactive product design. The designer will work collaboratively with marketers and product managers to create relevant and effective sites using solid UI/UX principles for a variety of business audiences. The designer must be comfortable presenting concepts and ideas and have experience managing projects from concept through completion.

Learn more

Required skills and credentials:

  • Ability to code HTML/CSS
  • Ability to design of shared information elements (IA)
  • Research, wire frames and front end graphics/CSS
  • Skill integrating type, images, and illustrations into design
  • Strong communication skills and client orientation
  • Able to collaborate with teams to plan, analyze, organize and execute assigned projects
  • Proficient in the Adobe Creative Suite (Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator) and MS Office Suite
  • Degree in web/graphic design
  • UX design experience
IN-HOUSE VS. YOUR OWN STUDIO: Compare the work of Web agency Orbit Media Studios with the work of two independent Web designers: Andrew Couldwell and Shelly Cooper.
RELATED JOBS: Interactive Designer, Web UX/UI Designer, Front-End Designer, Digital Designer.