Your first steps: Getting into the web design business

Published on May 18th, 2009 by admin

From learning the basics, to launching your first website, here are some tips to get you started in the web design business.

Why do you want to be a web designer?

So why exactly do you want to be a web designer? Is it because. . .

  • You love to create?
  • You like to solve problems?
  • You like to help people?
  • You like the fast-paced nature of a rapidly changing industry?
  • You like sitting at a computer?

If your answer to all of these questions is a resounding “YES!” then web design is the right place for you. Now it’s time to . . .

Start learning

Web design covers an array of different topics. Many of which change every few years. As a whole though you should have a working knowledge of the following areas.

  • Design theory
  • HTML, CSS and Javascript
  • Server side scripting languages such as PHP and ASP
  • Design Patterns and Object Oriented Programming
  • MySQL
  • Search Engine Optimization


This is by far, the fastest and easiest way to start learning. Shop online or go to your local bookstore and find some books, especially about HTML and CSS.

Take some classes

This is not as easy as it sounds. Most of the web design curricula out there are severely outdated (ie, front page). Instead, try taking some traditional art classes such as painting or drawing. They will introduce you to the fundamentals of design such as composition, balance, repetition etc.

Get engaged in the community

There’s a ton of great web design communities out there just waiting to answer your questions. Get involved and start making friends in the industry.

Start with these three great communities.

Do some personal projects

“One must learn by doing the thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty, until you try.” – Sophocles

There’s no better way to learn than to start some of your own projects. Start simple, and gradually increase in complexity. You’ll get practice as well as discover some of the more subtle aspects of web design.

Find a mentor

Find someone who is already in the field and befriend them. Books, classes and forums can’t substitute for their knowledge and experience. They’re a great resource to ask questions, seek advice and request critiques. Also, when you’re ready to start accepting work they will often use their connections to get you started.


Define yourself

You should have some knowledge of all aspects of web design, but should only be specialized in a few. For example, if you define yourself as a web designer, then you will need to be an expert in design theory, HTML and CSS.

Learn some more

Think of the first part as the bachelor’s degree and this part as the masters. Now it’s time to dive deeper into your area of specialty. For example, if you’re a web developer you should be an expert in Object Oriented Programming.

Stay focused and practice constantly. Your goal is to stand out from the crowd.

Sell your services/talents

Make a portfolio website

No one is going to hire you if you don’t have a single place to show all your work. therefore this should be one of your first personal projects.

At the very least your website should have the following sections:

  • Home Page
  • Resume
  • Gallery of work
  • Contact page

Keep it as simple as possible, you don’t want your design overwhelming your gallery.


Volunteer your services to good causes in your area, especially if you’re still learning. This will build up your portfolio as well generate contacts (which is always a good thing).

Some places you could volunteer.

  • Animal orphanages
  • Local bands
  • Food cupboards
  • Town chambers of commerce
  • Art galleries

Go to conferences

Conferences are a great way to meet people in your line of business. Though some of them can be pretty expensive there are plenty of reasonably priced ones. All you have to do is look.

Here are some of the more famous conferences.

Make friends with other professionals in your area

Don’t live in a cave, go out and meet other professionals in your area. If you have good relations with them there is a good chance they will send work your way that they can’t handle.

Also it’s much easier to find a job if you’re already friends with the people in the company.

Work 110%

Work hard

Pour yourself into a project 110%. After all, this is going to be in your portfolio. Also, a good product means a happy client and a happy client means more work.


Take a break once in a while! You might think you’re being productive by working twelve hours a day but really you’re not. It’s a lot harder to focus when you’re fatigued. Make sure you get plenty of rest and spend time with family and friends .

Have fun!

You’re a web designer! Life is good!

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