Attempting to break into web design or development is a long and arduous process, with more roadblocks and competition than most fields. The payoff, however, is a rewarding job that will continuously push you to your limits. If you’re prepared to enter this world, here are a few tips to help you along the way.

Learn Through Experimentation

Picking up a book on HTML and CSS will give you an understanding of the languages, but learning through experimentation will get your hands dirty and allow you to learn at your own pace. When I began creating websites, I experimented with other designers’ code in order to learn what works and what doesn’t. It was a rewarding experience, but also a frustrating one. When your goal is to become a professional web designer, experimentation should supplement a traditional education.

Build Your Way Up

Moving too quickly through the learning process may lead to a lot of roadblocks in the future. Jumping into JavaScript before you learn the difference between margin and padding is a great way to overload yourself. This is where a traditional education can help you stay on a safe course and build your skills at a proper pace.

Complement Your Skills

Even if you don’t go to school for design or development, it’s a good course of action to further a future career. Sam Dunn, co-founder of web design firm One Mighty Roar, advises aspiring web designers to take advantage of the opportunities college has to offer. You can complement your design skills with a degree in marketing or communications.

Acquire Multiple Skill Sets and Stay Current

The best way to become a desirable web designer or developer is to have a wide of array of skills. Think of your skills as Swiss Army knife; you may only use a few on a regular basis, but having the ability to use the others when necessary is something a lot of employers will appreciate. And by staying on top of the latest trends in design or development, you’ll always find yourself able to offer more than the majority of your competition.

Choose Clients Wisely When Freelancing

You’ll discover that many clients are not experienced in managing a web design project and will often have very high expectations. If you could make more hourly working at the supermarket down the street, you should start screening potential clients better. When starting out, you may have to take some extremely low-paying jobs in order to build a portfolio and gain experience; but once you’ve established yourself and have clients seeking you out, you’ll likely turn down more offers than you accept.

How are you pursuing your career in web design or development? Let us know in the comments below.


Image (edited): Ruth Ellison