10 Web Designer Requirements
Reviewed by Jacob Imm
Nov 11, 2022
10 Web Designer Requirements
Web design is an essential part of the Internet—and it’s everywhere. Even the website you’re on right now requires input from a web designer.
What does a web designer do? Part art and part science, web design involves planning, creating, and organizing the content and assets on web pages. From the fonts and photos used to the overall site structure, web design covers an extraordinary amount of ground.
So, as you might imagine, a successful digital designer needs to be a multi-talented creative. But it’s not enough to have a knack for typography and color—to become a web designer, you’ll need to meet several requirements. There are also various skills and attributes that can help you flourish.
With that in mind, we’re looking at ten web designer requirements that can increase your chances of finding work in the field.
Although a traditional education after high school isn't always necessary for a career in web design, most web developers have at least a bachelor’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an undergraduate degree is the typical entry-level education requirement for web design work. A bachelor’s degree usually takes three to five years to complete.
However, holding a college degree does more than fulfill an application requirement. When you enroll in a relevant degree program, you’ll learn or practice many of the skills on this list. And because web design is such a broad field, there are several degrees that can provide you with the appropriate experience.
One of the best degrees for web design is interactive media studies. In an interactive media studies program, you’ll cover a wide range of web design-related topics, including:
- Graphic design
- Video production
- Digital writing
- Media law and ethics
Related to web design, you could study graphic design for more of an art focus, or you could study computer engineering to learn more about programming. No matter which degree you pursue in the digital design arena, you can earn a well-rounded understanding of all things web design if this is the career path you want.
To learn more and to better your chances of employment, you can also pursue a master’s degree in web design or development, whether you want to be a graphic designer or web developer. Most master’s degrees take one to three years.
2. An Eye for Design
Because you’ll spend much of your time conceptualizing web pages and sites, an eye for design is essential. You don’t necessarily need to be a master artist to work as a web designer, but you will need to understand and appreciate the foundations of art and design.
Some of the must-know concepts for web design include:
- Color theory – To create eye-catching content, you need a basic understanding of which colors work well together and which ones clash. This allows you to play with harmony and contrast in your designs to increase the visual design. Having a grasp on the way colors make people feel is also indispensable.
- Typography – Knowledge of typography goes beyond which fonts complement each other. A successful web designer understands how a font’s size, alignment, and kerning (the space between characters) play a role in the user’s perception.
- Composition – Composition is the art of putting it all together. Knowing how to arrange the text, static imagery, and animations on the page is essential—from both a practical and aesthetic standpoint. This can increase the user experience and UI design.
3. Mastery of Design Software
It should be no surprise that web designers spend much of their time on the computer, usually bouncing between creative and technical programs.
To bring your artistic vision to life, you’ll typically use industry-standard programs like:
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe InDesign
- Adobe Photoshop
Although you’ll have the opportunity to learn the above software and more in a college program, you can easily download them today to start experimenting to add to your technical skills and design skills.
4. Knowledge of Front-End Programming Languages
The average user visits a website and sees a sleek, navigable interface. The average web designer clicks on a landing page and knows that under the surface, there are thousands of lines of code that make the website function.
Part of your job as a web designer is ensuring that users enjoy a seamless user experience. To do that, you must learn how to read and write the computer programming languages that keep websites functional.
Some of the most common front-end programming languages for web design include:
Learning a programming language is like learning any other language—it’s no simple task. However, there are countless print and online resources to help you begin. If you’re interested in web design’s “behind-the-scenes” aspects, it’s worth seeking out these educational materials.
5. Interpersonal Skills
On smaller projects, web designers may work alone. However, in many cases, they’ll be part of a larger team.
Even if you’re the only web designer on a project, you’ll frequently collaborate with other professionals, including a UX designer, marketing manager, content writer, and engineer.
With that in mind, to succeed as a web designer, you’ll need interpersonal skills like:
- Clear written and spoken communication
Web design is a constantly changing field. If you want to be the best of the best, you should always be willing to learn new technical skills and techniques. Many of the everyday tools that web designers use didn’t exist ten years ago—those already in the business had to adapt. The bottom line is that as information technology and trends shift, so will web design.
You’ll also have to adapt when a project changes in scope. Most of the people you’ll work with won’t be web designers themselves; as such, they may not understand the work that goes into each request they make. However, if they’re a client, your job is to keep them happy. When you learn to be flexible, you can take on unexpected changes in stride.
7. Time Management
Whether you’re a self-employed web designer or working for a company, time is often of the essence. Deadlines can come up quickly, and missing them can impact your reputation as a professional.
Time management can be a tricky skill to master, but using a digital calendar or to-do list can help. Managing your time wisely is also a fundamental part of college—yet another reason to enroll in an interactive media studies program and practice meeting deadlines while also learning the different types of interactive media.
8. An Understanding of Miscellaneous Technologies
Web designers work directly or indirectly with various other aspects of technology and design. To that end, having a working knowledge of relevant programs and concepts is beneficial. It’s worth familiarizing yourself with:
- Content management systems (CMS) – These are the behind-the-scenes software solutions that many web developers use. The best place to start is WordPress—more than 60% of the web relies on the platform, according to W3Techs.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) – SEO is about increasing organic web traffic through strategies like keyword integration and internal linking. When you leverage SEO to improve your site’s ranking in search engine results, more people will see your brilliant design work.
- Social media – Many of your assets may end up on your organization’s social media pages. Understanding popular sites and their algorithms can give you a leg up.
9. An Appreciation for Data and Analytics
Although web design has a solid visual component, there’s also a scientific aspect. If you understand how and why your visitors interact with your site, you can make more informed decisions when designing or updating in the future.
Tools like web traffic insights and heat maps (visual representations of your website visitors’ mouse movements) allow you to make design decisions based on data. Solid data can help you with buy-in from non-technical colleagues and stakeholders. When you have the numbers to back up your requests for more resources or a much-needed site update, you’ll have a better chance of receiving approval from management.
10. A Portfolio
Finally, you need a way to showcase your work to potential employers. A portfolio is a collection of your projects and abilities—think of it as a visual resume.
If you’re an all-around web designer, you’ll want a portfolio that showcases your various skills. Think about samples of logos you’ve created, typefaces you’ve developed, and examples of finished websites or pages you’ve designed. Many digital designers will have a personal website that acts as their online portfolio so that one day, they might become a senior web designer.
Most college programs will help you curate a portfolio for post-graduation job hunting.
Start Working on Your Web Design Requirements
With so many requirements, it’s clear that becoming a web designer takes time and effort. However, if you’re looking for creative freedom, the opportunity to work for yourself, and career stability (as reported by the BLS), the journey is well worth it.
One of the best ways to learn all the above skills in one place is to enroll in a post-secondary program. For example, earning a degree in interactive media studies can give you the foundation you’ll need to succeed in web design.
If you think web design might be for you, be on the lookout for schools with an emphasis on hands-on learning and state-of-the-art technology—schools like North Central College. When you graduate from the right program, it shouldn’t be long until you can design world-class websites of your own.
Jacob Imm is the associate director of communication in the North Central College Office of Marketing and Communications. He has 12 years of collegiate communications experience and has worked with hundreds of college students. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, September 14). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Web Developers and Digital Designers. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm
Usage Statistics and Market Share of WordPress. W3Techs. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://w3techs.com/technologies/details/cm-wordpress