A macbook pro, open sketchbook and camera sitting on a wooden desk

So You Want To Be A Web Designer?

There are many routes you can take on your path to becoming a web designer. I offer you an insight into how I work which should provide you with some advice and tips on how you can get started in the web design industry.


After you’ve figured out why you are designing the website and what the website will achieve you should have a list of things the site will need such as a logo, navigation bar, pages, text and images.


Do some research and get to know the industry you are designing for by seeing what the competitors are doing. Have a look at these and try to find some other well designed websites. Take the best elements from a range of websites and make them work together by merging them into something new.


Sketch and progress a few different ideas that you will base your layout on. Think about colours and how they will influence the design. You will need to know or learn about colour theory and apply this knowledge to your ideas.


When you are happy with what you have on paper you will want to mock-up a digital design using Photoshop or design in the browser if you’re already efficient at coding. You can then show your client to give them an idea of the overall look and feel of the website. You should design to a grid to balance out the structure. For more about grids look into frameworks such as Twitter Bootstrap as this will help you out later on when coding especially if the website will be Responsive.


From my experience it’s good to learn by working on a simple project from start to finish so pick a course that does this and if you know someone who needs a website get them involved and cater it towards them, that way your project will have a direction with genuine content and you can use it in your portfolio as a live project.


A good course with teach you how to build a website and style it using HTML & CSS. It should also educate about web standards, accessibility & validity. You can then go on to learn Javascript if you want to create interactive elements.

Responsive Design

Learn about Responsive design to enable you to create websites that adapt to different screen sizes for an optimum experience across different devices. To get started you can use a responsive framework such as Twitter Bootstrap.

Content Management System

It’s good to be able to empower the client to update their website themselves so you’ll want to learn how to build your website as a theme into a Content Management System such as WordPress. This requires you to spread your HTML into various template files but to get the most out of it you should learn some PHP which will make your project more dynamic giving complete control to your client. A starter theme such as the Roots theme will help make the transition from static files into a dynamic website easier.

When creating websites that use server-side language such as PHP you’ll need to set-up a test server on your local machine to allow you to preview the site you’re working on. You can download a program such as MAMP that will install a web server for you.

Keep Learning

After learning some or all of these things your experience will continue to grow on the job but you should also keep learning outside of this by reading books, blogs and trying new things.


You’re experienced and you’re ready to take on the world but you’ll also need to have some business sense and by having certain things in place you can ensure that a job will run smoothly and the client will be happy. To start a job you will need to know what it involves and by having a client questionnaire ready you’ll be prepared to get the ball rolling.

After you’ve got a brief and you’ve done all the research you’ll want to put forward a proposal and if that’s accepted you should send them a contract to sign and an invoice requesting 50% funds to get the project underway.

When you’ve completed the work and are ready to go live you should send another invoice requesting the remaining 50% and then hand over the files once all funds have been received.

You will need a place to meet with the client over the course of the project one of the meetings should include a tutorial on how to use the Content Management System. It’s a good idea to provide them with a cheat sheet for them to reference in the future.


If you would like me to go into more detail about something specific drop me an e-mail. I would be more than happy to help.

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About Steven Watts

Steven WattsSteven is the founder of Newt Labs. He's a WordPress specialist with an interest in building the most effective websites possible. Since 2010, he's been helping businesses with their online goals.

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