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How to Learn Web Design: The Ultimate Guide

Becoming a web designer is not that difficult – follow our ultimate 9-step guide that reveals how to learn web design quickly and efficiently

15 min read

The Internet has become a massive part of our life. We surf it at home, at work, on our way to vacation; it is in our TVs, PCs, laptops, phones, game consoles, and even tiny smartwatches. Can you imagine your day without browsing through web pages or visiting the beloved social media? I bet you cannot.

According to recent statistics, there are 4.66 billion internet users and 1.8 billion websites. These numbers are increasing, proving to everyone that the web is a huge deal these days.

This massive expansion has turned web design into a highly demanding skill. Whether you are a web developer, digital entrepreneur, or just a person who wants to set a foot into the digital world, this competency makes life much easier.

For instance, it helps to understand how to

  • impact audience’s perception of brand and website,
  • set a proper impression for customers,
  • build trust,
  • improve reputation,
  • increase organic traffic,
  • reinforce marketing strategy,
  • amplify conversions,
  • and generate leads.

In a word, becoming a web designer brings numerous benefits.

The good news is, you do not have to be a talented artist to acquire this skill. Neither does it take Herculean effort to grasp the essentials and start building fantastic web designs. All you need is proper guidance that will show you the way of how to learn web design.

Therefore, if you have ever wondered how to learn web designing, follow our ultimate guide. It involves ten simple steps. They are:

  • Step 1 - Learn the Basics of Web Design
  • Step 2 - Understand Web Design Process
  • Step 3 - Learn Standard Web Design Approaches
  • Step 4 - Get the Idea of Being Responsive and Being Mobile-friendly
  • Step 5 - Learn the Best Practices for User Interface and User Experience
  • Step 6 - Soak up Usability Principles
  • Step 7 - Learn Basics of HTML
  • Step 8 - Learn Basics of CSS
  • Step 9 - Get Your Hands Dirty

Everything starts with the essentials – what is web design?

Web design implies creating interfaces for websites, web applications, online services and programs, analytics panels, and even back-ends for complex systems. It deals with such aspects as:

  • sketches and wireframes,
  • layouts,
  • appearances,
  • first and overall impressions,
  • general feeling,
  • information hierarchy,
  • accessibility,
  • visuals including icons, pictograms, controls, banners, backgrounds, and other supporting visual material,
  • usability,
  • user experience,
  • and even the marketing campaigns.

According to Wikipedia, web design is related to building a front-end interface that at some point overlaps web engineering in the broader scope. It bridges the user and system gap by providing simple, intuitive, and friendly interaction and communication. It is one of the main pillars of the digital world that underlies its existence.

Professional web designers acquire the skills of an artist and engineer who understand how every detail of the interface (starting with a massive banner in the hero area and ending with a small arrow controller in the video player) works and exists inside the ecosystem of a website. They understand how these details influence SEO, usability, and marketing to provide a solid foundation to build on.

The keystone of a web designer’s output is a website or web application or any other web interface that is fully responsive, mobile-friendly, accessible, and intuitive to operate. It looks eye-pleasing, offers optimal readability and memorable user experience, leaves a positive impression, wins over the target audience, and, last but not least, achieves marketing goals.

In a word, web designers have a lot on their plate. Though, still, it does not mean you cannot become one.

The success of learning web design lies in adopting a positive attitude, steering clear of distractions, staying away from procrastination, tolerating obstacles, prioritizing small goals, being patient, and of course, following the right directions. Therefore, let’s proceed with our guide on how to learn web designing.

Step 1 - Learn the Basics of Web Design

After getting acquainted with the web design definition and understanding what it takes to acquire necessary skills, the time has come to jump to the basics since they help learn web design effectively.

The basics of web design include such subjects as:

  • Color theory,
  • Typography principles,
  • Visual design,
  • Interaction design.

Let’s consider each one closely.

Color Theory

Color theory is one of the most important subjects of the web design discipline because it is increasingly powerful in what it can do to the interface. Color is the first thing that visitors see and, most importantly, understand. It can easily influence the perception of the project.

Each shade has its personality and brings its gamut of emotions. It is crucial to understand how to combine several shades to achieve harmony, affecting conversions and lead generation.

Color theory is a vast topic to cover. Focus on widening your knowledge in

  • additive and subtractive color models;
  • color wheel;
  • color temperature;
  • hue, shade, tint, and tone;
  • saturation and luminance;
  • color schemes: monochromatic, complementary, split-complementary, analogous, triadic, square, rectangle;
  • color meaning;
  • 60-30-10 rule;
  • accessibility rules.

On top of that, you need to familiarize yourself with tools to develop color harmonies, mixing, and palettes.

Typography Principles

Typography is one of those subjects you need to nail when you learn how to design a website because it is not only about choosing the font.

As one of the main pillars of usability, typography enhances overall aesthetics, improves user experience, strengthens the message, ensures optimal accessibility, creates visual hierarchy, and even sets unobtrusive focal points to increase conversions.

Again, it is a vast topic. However, as a web designer, mastering the essentials could be enough. Therefore, become versed with

  • terminology,
  • hierarchy,
  • type scale guidelines,
  • contrast,
  • personality,
  • rules for mixing and matching fonts,
  • responsive typography,
  • mobile-friendly typography,
  • accessible typography,
  • principles of readability.

Visual Design

Visual design is crucial for several reasons:

  • it creates a general aesthetics;
  • it strikes a balance and hits harmony;
  • it drives engagement;
  • it improves usability;
  • it elicits positive emotions;
  • it strengthens brand identity;
  • it makes an impression.

While it is enough to scratch the surface of typography, the visual design requires the students to dive into the subject much deeper. That means you need to be aware of all its main principles, including

  • The principle of scale: use relative size to indicate the importance of elements in the composition.
  • The principle of visual hierarchy: guide visitors through the elements in the order of their importance.
  • The principle of balance: control arrangement and proportions of design elements on both sides of the vertical and horizontal axis.
  • The principle of contrast: provide the noticeable difference between elements in the interface to emphasize the importance.
  • The principle of unity: use a grid to create harmony and consistency among the UI elements.
  • The principle of dominance: draw users to a single element using color, shape, position, contrast, or scale.
  • Gestalt principles: use similarity, continuation, closure, proximity, common region, figure, symmetry, and order.

On top of that, you need to understand such essential elements of visual design as line, shape, negative space, volume, value, color, and texture.

Interaction Design

Interaction design is one of the fundamentals of good UX. It provides meaningful and intuitive communication between the visitors and the interface and creates a comfortable environment where users get what they need right here right now. It also lets the brand leave a long-lasting impression and turn occasional visitors into loyal customers.

Good interaction design meets user’s expectations and, at the same time, achieves marketing goals. To make it work for you, you need to understand its standards and principles. Let’s cover the most popular ones to get the hang of it.

  • Provide consistency across the design.
  • Meet expectations of the target market.
  • Stick to functional minimalism.
  • Make the interface intuitive and straightforward.
  • Follow well-established conventions and usability heuristics without looking boring or trivial.
  • Provide instant learnability by opting in favor of standard components or patterns.
  • Keep the audience engaged.
  • Keep users informed all the time.
  • Eliminate confusion and misunderstanding.
  • Map between controls and effects or between controls and their resulting functions.
  • Use constraints to ensure smooth and flawless interaction.
  • Reduce user errors.
  • Choose recognition over recalling.
  • Offer fast and straightforward navigation.
  • Include quick getaways.
  • Make interaction with the website easy to learn.
  • Put the user in a driver’s seat.
  • Handle errors.
  • Help users overcome errors.

Familiarize yourself with designing software

As a web designer, you need a comfortable environment to shape your vision of the website. Here, designing software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, Indesign, Affinity, and others come to play. There are plenty of them: choose one that meets your requirements and provides the most comfortable environment for you.

Step 2 - Understand Web Design Process

Creating a website design is a challenging task, even for a great web design agency. Not only should it meet the client’s requirements and expectations, but it also should comply with standards and obey international laws and regulations.

Not to overlook all the crucial details, professional teams stick to a time-tested web design process that involves these steps:

  1. Identify the general goal and break it into small tasks. They help to decide on milestones to ensure the website is delivered on time.
  2. Define the scope of the project. Get specific and realistic. Create a list of pages you need to design, instruments you need to use, stocks to work within the project, etc.
  3. Familiarize yourself with SEO and marketing strategy.
  4. Design information architecture.
  5. Create a sitemap.
  6. Decide on the approach: mobile-first or desktop-first.
  7. Define what elements are necessary to create a comfortable environment for the target market.
  8. Consider elements for ensuring inclusivity of the interface.
  9. Create a wireframe.
  10. Work with the content.
  11. Design visual elements.
  12. Create a website design.
  13. Test the design to identify possible issues.

Note that almost every step requires feedback and a seal of approval from the client to move to the next stage safely. This means you need to be ready to do revisions and edit your intermediate result.

Step 3 - Learn Standard Web Design Approaches

When you learn how to design a website, it is vital to understand the approaches used to build websites. There are two standard methods. The first one is the desktop-first approach, whereas the second one is the mobile-first. The names speak for themselves.

Each one comes with its pros and cons and has its own merits. Depending on the target market and website’s ultimate goal, you may choose one or another method. It will define the overall structure and set the vector for design and development.

Step 4 - Get the Idea of Being Responsive and Being Mobile-friendly

These two terms are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing.

Being responsive means adapting the interface gracefully to different browser screens, whereas being mobile-friendly means ensuring your interface is comfortable to use on small gadgets.

They give you hints on what structure to create, how to build the layout, what size for elements to choose, and even what typography to apply to secure good readability.

Step 5 - Learn the Best Practices for User Interface and User Experience

Although user interface and user experience are two different subjects, still at some point, they pursue the same objective – provide the visitors with a comfortable environment where they can achieve their goals quickly and efficiently.

When you learn web design, it is imperative to catch on to the basics of both these topics to create a productive, flawless human-centric system. There are many good practices; let’s highlight the most popular and time-tested ones so that you can understand where to move forward.

  • Learn the target audience and its requirements, expectations, and behavior patterns.
  • Determine how the target audience is going to use the interface: define direct and indirect interactions.
  • Set expectations for users.
  • Work with error-handling: prevent mistakes when possible and offer simple ways to fix them.
  • Sustain standards on every corner of the web page.
  • Avoid overwhelming, content-heavy, and chaotic designs.
  • Make navigation quick and easily reachable.
  • Use screen’s real-estate efficiently.
  • Ensure consistency in design and interaction.
  • Capitalize on whitespace.
  • Plan functional elements carefully.

Step 6 - Soak up Usability Principles

Another essential skill to acquire when you learn how to design a website is usability.

Usability is a fundamental element of every successful web project on the web. It increases productivity, creates much-needed universal access to the platform, boosts conversions, and ensures high customer satisfaction.

Jakob Nielsen, the leading usability expert, has formed ten heuristic principles. Here they are

  • Users should always know where they are.
  • Design should speak the user’s language.
  • “Emergency exits” should always be at hand.
  • Conventions should guide users throughout the web page.
  • Slips and mistakes should be eliminated.
  • Solutions for problems should be clear.
  • Users should quickly understand how to deal with the interface.
  • Accelerators and personalize interaction should enhance the project.
  • Irrelevant information should be eliminated.
  • Helpful information should be present on every page.

On top of that, you need to pore over the best practices and expert tips on this subject.

Step 7 - Learn Basics of HTML

Although web design has nothing to do with coding, knowing how your colleague (web developer) will handle your solution is crucial. The transition from design to working version needs to be smooth. The basic understanding of HTML and how elements connect in the actual model helps the artist build a well-thought-out and reliable concept that is easy to work with.

Therefore, getting the knack of the essentials of HyperText Markup Language is imperative when you learn how to design a website. So, where to go to get some basic knowledge in this field?

  • First, visit the official specification for HTML5, HTML5 Glossary created by the Mozilla team, and a set of tutorials created by W3Schools.
  • Second, read some great blogs about HTML5. They will provide you with the most recent information on the subject.
  • Third, take upon learning courses. You can go for special editions in popular educational platforms like Udemy or Coursera or free resources that are in abundance on the web.
  • Fourth, examine other’s works in code-sharing systems like the Codepen. This will give you real insights into bringing to life elegant solutions.
  • Fifth, fill your toolset with some helpful tools such as W3 Validator. In addition, you may benefit from numerous HTML5 templates.
  • Finally, get the hang of boilerplates and content management systems. Chances are, your web design will be converted into an actual project through one of these solutions. Each one has its standards and nuances that you need to take into account. For instance, you may stick to the color palette defined in Bootstrap or use styles of WordPress widgets.

Step 8 - Learn Basics of CSS

While HTML is all about structure, organization, and information architecture, CSS is about design. As a web designer, you need to wade through cascading style sheet language as well.

Again, you do not need to become a CSS expert; it is for a web developer. However, it would help if you understood its rules and limitations to develop reliable designs.

The web is teeming with some great free resources for learning the basics of CSS. For instance, you can visit

  • CSS3 Tutorials in W3Schools;
  • CSS Reference on Codrops;
  • CSS-tricks;
  • Video tutorials and blogs of renowned experts like Lea Verou.

In addition, you need to understand how custom CSS grids work since they have pre-defined sizes and resolutions that you need to meet.

Step 9 - Get Your Hands Dirty

As they say, practice makes perfect. Without getting your hands dirty and creating something decent every day, you would not achieve success. Constant practice is your way to become a professional web designer.

Therefore, do projects every day. Whether you need to design a small section of the landing page or a vast digital store, do not back off; commit yourself to the task, push your limits and try to do your best.

To help you in this matter, follow these tips:

  • Get inspiration from actual examples. Awwwards and FWA have a massive collection of websites whose design and execution are worth a shot.
  • Get inspiration from concepts. Dribbble and Behance are two popular platforms where you can find some outstanding ideas.
  • Read professional blogs like Smashingmagazine or Webdesignerdepot.
  • Make the most out of such helpful tools as Web Designer with Google, Affinity Designer, Color scheme generators like Coolors, Canva, or Color Adobe, Font pairing generators like Fontjoy or Font pair, Dummy text generators like Lipsum.
  • Add to your library links for getting stocks, illustrations, and icons. The most popular choices are Shutterstock (for premium resources) or Pexels (for freemium resources

Becoming a professional web designer takes lots of time. Do not rush things. Take your time to learn web design at your pace. On top of that, keep your desire for design alive by browsing through inspirational collections of concepts and real examples. Do not be afraid to push the limits. Follow the modern trends, styles, and solutions to become a strong player in this arena.

Conclusion

Our ultimate guide on how to learn web designing involves nine fundamental steps that you need to take to achieve your dream of becoming a web designer. They are not rocket science, and you do not have to be a talented artist.

All it takes is patience, devotion, and persistence. Everything else will come with constant practice and nonstop nurturing of your skills by learning modern techniques, reading professional blogs, examining case studies, and experimenting with various theories and practices.