How to Become a Website Designer

By Eric Hammer

So you want to become a website designer. Being a website designer is an often challenging and ever changing job which requires you to really be on top of your work and to keep your finger on the pulse of the Internet.

For example, one of the newest things to come up for web site designers is the issue of the FTC suggesting regulations regarding tracking. If this new plan is implemented, it could mean that web site designs will have to be fundamentally changed. Almost every web site designed today does at least some tracking of individuals and under the proposed regulation, this would have to be made voluntary, where people who sign up for a "do not track" list, similar to the ones for the "do not call" registry will have their browsing remain untracked.

In addition, web sites today need a tremendous amount of sophistication. Gone are the days when you can hand code a web site and be proud of your work. Today's websites are so complicated that, while you need to understand the code and what it's doing, it's not realistic to expect to hand code anything but the very simplest of web sites.

How Much Can You Make?

According to, the average website designer earns anywhere from $32,785-$57,786 per year. However, when you are just starting out, it's possible you'll earn significantly less, especially if you plan to freelance. This is simply because there is so much competition, especially from developing countries like India. Love it or hate it, in a global world, there are hundreds of thousands of engineers willing to do the job for much less than an American can afford to do it for.

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Today, any website designer worth his or her salt needs to know not just about website design but also about SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization and it's imperative that you understand this business in order to design effective web sites. Otherwise, your client's web sites will never be seen by anyone because they can't be found.

In addition, understanding how Facebook works and how to write applications for Facebook has become increasingly important as well. It's estimated that within the next few years, the sheer volume of searches on Facebook will actually exceed those of Google, so it's time to start familiarizing yourself with the needs of social media programming as well.

Finally, when doing website design work, especially if you are doing it on a freelance basis, consider doing it as a package deal where you offer to arrange for professional content to be written and professional graphics to be designed for the website as well. You should also arrange for marketing efforts so that you can offer your clients a turnkey solution to website design rather than just doing the design work for them.

Qualifications / Requirements

While no formal training is generally required, it is a good idea to earn at least a bachelor's degree in computer science in order to work in this field, especially if you want to be a salaried employee rather than a freelancer. If you want to work in freelance, then it's really all about results. You don't need a degree, but you do need some samples of killer web sites that you've built for other clients so that people can see what your work looks like.

First Steps

Start by trying to design your own website. Study some web sites that you really enjoy and try to make something all your own that combines the best elements of those sites. Then, if you plan to go for a salaried job, go and take a degree course in website design. If you plan to go the freelance route, take on a few clients who are friends or close relatives and do the project for them at little or no cost. Let them be your first customers so that you can show off your work to others. Then, look for professional opportunities and start offering lower prices to attract clients. Once you are established, you can raise your prices.


Check out these helpful resources to find out more about becoming a website designer:

About.Com: How to Become a Website Designer - A well written introduction to the world of professional website design, this should get your started.

53 Steps to Follow if You Want to Become a Freelance Website Designer - An excellent step by step approach which shows you what you'll need to know in order to do this on a freelance basis.

V7 Forums - One of the best forums on the Internet for website designers. This site regularly hits the top of the list for website design as well as Internet marketing.

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