As a web designer, you need to hone skills in a few key areas including visual design, UX (user experience), and client communication. You need to develop your eye for visual design which takes time. You also need to master the design software so you can create amazing designs quickly and easily.
Here is a crash course on some of the things you’ll need to learn when it comes to design:
Ultimately it doesn’t matter, as long as you get started learning. The reality is most design software operates similarly. What software you need to use will depend on the company you work for if you pursue a full-time design role. If you’re a freelance web designer, you have a little more freedom and control over what software you use.
For example, if you work as an in-house web designer, you’ll need to learn how to use the software the design team already uses. You can’t come in and use Adobe XD or Sketch if the whole organization already uses Figma. Large tech companies tend to use specific software that works best for their team’s collaboration. For this reason, Figma is a favorite among tech companies simply for how easy it is to collaborate cross-functionally and share files with multiple designers on a team. This makes it easy for one designer to take over when someone is out of the office and for another team to view, share, and comment with feedback.
We’ll share our favorites within the Adobe program suite but know there are free options and other alternatives if you prefer using other software. But essentially you’ll need 3 types of software:
Aside from mastering design software so you can design websites, you also need to be sure to work on your soft skills. Communication is key to being a great designer. You need to be able to articulate your design decisions and explain the why behind your design solution. If you want to be a successful web designer, learning how to communicate well and create good client relationships is key if you want to continue to be hired again. Cultivating good relationships will bring back clients and their referrals or that next job.
The most traditional ways to learn web design are to pursue a 4-year college degree or a 3–6 month bootcamp. Both of these options can be quite costly. Most college degrees cost tens of thousands if not over $100,000+ by the time you graduate. You’re also wasting quite a bit of time learning before you have the credentials to pursue a full-time design role.
Bootcamps are much cheaper, maybe around $5,000–$20,000 depending on how long and extensive the program is. They’re also a shortcut because you’re spending weeks instead of years on learning design. This is because you’re studying the program from Monday-Friday 9 am-5 pm, much like a full-time job. But don’t expect to finish a bootcamp and be a master at design, you’ll still need to put in the time and effort to continue to grow as a designer but it is a great way start.
While these can be good ways to learn web design, they aren’t accessible for most people. Is it possible to learn web design for free or with a limited budget?
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, consider the self-study route where you can choose your own path. You’ll need to be self-motivated but with a little time and patience, you can learn everything you need to become a web designer online for free.
One of our favorite platforms is YouTube (check out our channel Flux). Design is visual so it can be hard to learn from reading books. But watching tutorials where someone is walking you through how to do something step-by-step, is one of the best and quickest ways to learn.
Be sure to practice along with the tutorials. It’s easy to binge-watch tutorial after tutorial and feel like you’re learning but until you actually practice it, get into your design software of choice and try doing it yourself, it’s all theory. The more times you practice creating wireframes or designing elements for a landing page, the better and faster you’ll be.
Search for terms like learn web design or even better something super specific like how to design a landing page or how to animate a button in Adobe XD. The more specific, the more likely you are to find a good tutorial and actually learn how to do something directly related to what you need to know as a web designer.
Looking for a complete course or set of videos? Check out our free web design course playlist on YouTube:
Did you know Adobe actually shares quite a bit of free information on how to use their software products? Practicing professionals go live just about every day on their YouTube channel to teach you how to use their tools. A favorite of mine is the Adobe XD daily challenges with Howard Pinsky. Each video is under 30 minutes so they’re not too overwhelming to watch and follow along with. Check out this one where you’ll learn how to create scrollable cards in Adobe XD:
CreativeLive is the largest online education streaming platform. The company started out by specializing in classes on photography and video since the CEO, Chase Jarvis, is a well-known photographer. But since then they’ve expanded from photo and video to art and design, music and audio, craft and maker, money and life.
They stream their classes taught by professionals for free, every minute of every day so you can go watch right now for free. But if you want to be able to pause, rewind, or keep the video to reference later then you can choose to purchase the course for a discounted price while it’s streaming live or wait until there is a sale, which is often. They also offer monthly or yearly subscription plans if you’re more of the binge-type and you know you want to watch more than one course consecutively. Here are some of the courses they offer in UX and UI design:
Skillshare is another online education platform geared toward creatives and at $119.88 a year, it’s very affordable. If you don’t have the money to purchase a monthly or yearly subscription or you’re just not sure, you can try it out for free for 2 weeks and binge-watch all the courses you want within the free trial.
What’s great about Skillshare is the classes are short, easily digestible, and are designed for you to learn skills along with working on a project. Here are some of the classes under the UI/UX design section:
Did you know Webflow offers free courses and resources to help you learn web design? Check out their course library for curated lessons on web design, how to use Webflow, SEO fundamentals, HTML, CSS, and more. Get started with The Ultimate Web Design Course.
Treehouse offers a 7-day free trial and is just $14.99 a month, a super affordable option to get started with. They’re well-regarded in the tech space for learning programming skills but they also offer tracks on design. Here are some of the tracks they offer on web design ranging from a 41-hour Web Design track to a 9-hour track on UX: Interaction Design.
Udemy can also be a low-cost online education option, most of their classes start at $12.99. When searching for a good web design course here, pay attention to the reviews and numbers. You want a high rating, ideally above 4 stars, with a large number of students. Here are some bestseller courses within the web design category:
The unfortunate thing about books on web design is most of them are out of date even by the time they are published. But if you happen to learn best from reading, then there’s no harm in diving into a few books to master the principles of web design.
Rather than buying these books, check out your local library first and see if they’re available. This way you can check out several books at once, skim through them to get what you need, and move on. If you find one book to be really valuable and want to refer to it again in the future, then consider purchasing it.
Eventually, you might outgrow some of these free resources and get to a point where you value your time more than money. Maybe you want to learn web design with a little more structure and mentorship with a solid curriculum created by a successful web designer. If this sounds like you, then check out one of our Flux Academy courses.
You can learn web design, web development, and how to become a freelancer on your time. It doesn’t have to take 12-weeks or 4 years. It takes as long as you want. Need a little more time to learn something? You can replay video lessons as many times as you need until you understand the concept. You have access to the material forever, it’s there when you need it.
After considering college degrees and bootcamps that cost tens of thousands of dollars, we offer a much more affordable option for design education. Our courses are in the low-mid hundreds (not thousands). We also offer payment options to make it even more affordable.
You also get access to a community. Remember the networking opportunities we mentioned for why most people decide to go to college? You also get this benefit but at a much lower cost and now you’re not confined to networking only with those in your location, we are a worldwide community. You get access to weekly calls with Ran Segall and your fellow students. Get the support you need and build momentum. You also have the opportunity to receive expert feedback on your designs from the Flux Academy instructors and peer critiques in our community hub.
We offer 3 different programs that go deep into design, development, and how to build a successful freelance business. We give you the path to follow so you learn only the skills you need at your pace.
In The $10k Website Process, you’ll discover a step-by-step process to design beautiful, high-value websites that achieve strategic goals for your clients. Master the art and strategy of website design, and increase the value of your services, as well as your rates.
In The Webflow Masterclass, you’ll learn how to use Webflow to build custom, fully-functional websites quickly without learning how to code. Break free from restrictive templates, regain your creative freedom, and bring your best creations to life with this powerful visual development tool.
In The 6 Figure Freelance Designer, you’ll learn how building a successful business as a freelancer is possible anywhere with an internet connection. We give you a roadmap to follow to consistently attract high-value clients and make a great living doing what you love.
Start growing your business today with Ran’s High-Value Web Designer Secrets email course that teaches you the three most significant things he’s learned as a freelancer.