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Learn web design with online courses and programs

Want to create user-friendly, dynamic websites? Modern web design involves understanding the technology behind web content and the accessibility needs of users. Advance your design skills and career with online web design courses powered by edX.

What is web design?

Great web design and development is half art, half science. Web designers must consider a website’s aesthetics — the colors, typography, graphics, and other design elements — to anticipate how a user will experience a site. More importantly, they need to  know how to effectively use coding languages, such as JavaScript, HTML, HTML5, and CSS, to build a functional website.

Website technology has evolved tremendously over the years. The first website that was published in 1991 featured a text-only interface to accommodate the dial-up modem’s sluggish connection speed. Since then, web design has blossomed into a sought-after professional field.Footnote 1Today’s consumers expect every business to have a website complete with interactive content, compelling visuals, and responsive design.

Web design is made up of several subdisciplines, including user experience (UX) design, user interface (UI) design, and information architecture (IA). UX design focuses on how a person thinks, feels, and experiences a website, whereas UI design examines how they interact with that same website through different touch points like buttons and toggles.Footnote 2 IA fits into the UX design process but specifically addresses how a website’s information is structured and organized. Footnote 3

Organizations use web design for many purposes, such as to market their products and services, help establish their brand voice, expand their audience through search engine optimization (SEO), and stay relevant in the marketplace. A website serves as an organization’s digital home base, providing the public with key information about a business or nonprofit. A well-designed site has the potential to build trust between an organization and its audience.

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Web design course curriculum

Modern web design course curricula are increasingly focused on the end user, preparing aspiring professionals to anticipate and meet their needs. Web design classes can cover the fundamentals of web design and web development. Learners can expect a deep dive into such topics as UX design, UI design, and responsive design, which uses Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to allow websites to orient to different-sized devices and display on a variety of screens.Footnote 4

Learning how to design a web page entails knowing the following:

  • Design strategy: Determine a site’s purpose and target audience.

  • Visual hierarchy: Prioritize content to guide viewers to the most important information.

  • SEO-driven content: Increase a site’s visibility and web traffic.

  • Site organization Ensure a site has logic and flow to ease user navigation.

  • Visual design: Enhance a site’s aesthetics with white space, color palettes, typography, and more.

Web design tutorials can include demonstrations of commonly-used web design software programs. Some examples are Adobe XD and Dreamweaver. Web designers may be able to operate these programs with little to no coding experience, although with robust coding skills, you can do much more. Professionals focused on growing their coding knowledge can jumpstart their studies with programming languages course offerings. JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and HTML5 are popular options for front-end development. Web developers who want to code on the back end may prefer programming with Python.Footnote 5 Because content management systems like WordPress are also useful for web design jobs, learners will have multiple opportunities to practice using them. 

How to become a web designer online

While many web designers hold a bachelor's degree in computer science, graphic design, or a related field,  a degree is not required to become a web designer. While a bachelor’s degree in web design provides a solid knowledge base for aspiring web designers,  it’s important to review the unique hiring requirements during your career search. 

Enrolling in online web design basics courses that help you improve your coding skills or in web design boot camps can help accelerate your learning and may even widen your career prospects. The concentrated and generally fast-paced curriculum of these types of online web design courses may be ideal for individuals who want to enter the job force quickly, or those hoping to secure advanced roles in the field.

Explore web design jobs

Web design and web development skills such as graphic creation and design, programming, web application, and multimedia production are relevant in many jobs including:

  • Web designer

  • Web developer

  • Web content manager

  • UX designer 

  • UI designer

  • UX researcher

  • SEO specialist

  • App developer

  • Multimedia programmer

  • Game developer

  • Animators 

Many organizations have IT departments that need in-house web designers and developers to design the layout of websites using HTML and other types of code, conduct website testing, and ensure websites are up to date and accessible. If you’re interested in being your own boss, freelance web design may be a rewarding option.

Remember that taking web design training courses doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fully qualified for every job requiring web design skills. Some might require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in web design, web development, or a related field — or other kinds of training, from an online boot camp for example.