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How to Become a Website Designer in 4 Simple Steps

how to become a website designer

In this day and age, if you own a small business, you  better  have a website for it. Even before the pandemic changed the world in 2020, people used the internet to find, vet, and hire service providers. Sure, you can squeak by with free social media accounts and a listing on Google Maps… but a website shows people that you’re legit.

And of course, that means we business owners will eventually need to hire a website designer to bring our website to life. If you have serious tech skills  and  a keen eye for design, the web design industry might just be for you.

What does a website designer actually do?

A website designer designs the appearance and layout of a website. They’re responsible for making websites look aesthetically pleasing and on-brand for their clients. They’re also responsible for making sure websites are functional and easy to use.

Basically, web designers put their graphic design, technical skills, and creative talents to use in their everyday work.

The difference between a website designer and a web developer

The responsibilities of a web designer sound really similar to those of a web developer, right? But they are different roles. 

While a web designer does pay attention to the usability of a website, a web developer’s job goes deeper. They make sure the internal structure of a website works well — not just the parts that users interact with or see. A web developer’s job usually involves coding, testing, hosting, debugging…more “hard” technical skills.

Browse around online for website designer jobs, and you’ll see roles like these:

  • Web designer
  • Front-end designer
  • UX/UI designer
  • Visual designer
  • Product manager
  • Front-end developer

Does the work of a web designer sound appealing to you? Let’s talk about how you can become one.

Look at your skills

Notice we said “skills and certifications” rather than “education or degrees.” While you can totally earn a college degree in graphic design or computer programming, it’s not necessary to become a website designer. What often matters more — and what people look for when hiring — is skills and experience.

Graphic design tools and programs

You’ll need to know your way around popular web design tools like WordPress, Photoshop, InVision, Sketch, Illustrator, and so on.

Programming languages

Okay, so we said coding is more a web developer’s thing and not a web designer’s. But you’ll benefit if you know at least the basics of common programming languages, like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or Flash.

Web design theory and user experience principles

Websites need to look good, but they also need to be functional. Learning web design theory and user experience, or UX, will help you a ton as a web designer. You'll learn stuff like how to lay out pages and content, how colors play a role in usability, and lots more.

Other skills

While tech skills are considered “hard” skills, “soft” skills are important, too! You’ll need to have strong communication skills since you’ll be working with clients to bring their vision to life. Time management and project management are crucial skills for running a biz. And it wouldn’t hurt to have some marketing knowledge, for your own business and when designing client websites. 

Build a website

Do you have what it takes to be a web designer? Awesome! If you haven’t already, then your next step is to build a website. Building websites is how you’ll improve your skills and gain experience firsthand. The more you build, the more you’ll learn and the more confident you’ll feel.

And hey, why not kill two birds with one stone and create a website for your business? You’ll need it after you  launch your web design business and start looking for clients anyway. Here’s your chance to get started on it now.

What should you include in your new biz website? Make sure you link to or share your portfolio (more on that in a minute), talk about your experience and skills, and include a contact page, for starters. Oh, and don’t forget  important legal stuff like a privacy policy and terms and conditions!

Your clients will  also  need a privacy policy and terms and conditions for their website, so make sure you have that built into your process!

Showcase your work with a portfolio

Along with a website, you absolutely need a portfolio that shows off your work. And you need to update it regularly! A portfolio shows prospective clients what your work actually looks like and what you can do. 

Even if you don’t have any clients yet, you likely have projects you did in your spare time or as a favor to friends or family members. Add those projects to your portfolio. Your portfolio is also a good space to share a more detailed list of your design skills: any certifications you have, programming languages you know, and design software you’re proficient in.

If you have enough previous work to be picky about what goes in your portfolio, make sure you’re showcasing work you’re really proud of and want to create more of. That’s a surefire way to  attract more of your favorite clients and do the work you really love.

Start booking…after you do this

Once your website and portfolio are up and running, and looking good, you’re ready to market yourself and start booking clients! Right? Technically, yes. But there’s one little step that some new business owners miss, and we don’t want you to make that same mistake. 

Before you let clients start hiring you to build their websites, you need to protect yourself and your website design business with a contract, like  the one we have just for web designers like you in our shop. 


website designer contract template


It may seem less pushy and quicker to nix the contracts when you’re hiring your first clients, but trust us. You need a contract! A contract sets expectations for your working relationship right from the get-go, so you  
both  know how things like payment, communication, and deliverables should be. 

Contracts don’t just benefit you, either. It’s a little scary asking someone to sign a legal document, but having contracts actually shows your clients that you’re legit. You care enough about their investment to want to protect it. 

Did we convince you that you need a contract yet? Our job is done, then. Grab your  Website Designer Contract Template today and start looking for clients!

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