What to Look For in a Web Design Program

You’ve decided that Web design is the career for you. You’re ready to jump into the game, but you’ll need some education on designing Web sites first. However, with literally hundreds of schools offering courses in every possible permutation – Website design or graphic design with a focus on Websites, certificates, or full degrees – how do you decide which program meets your needs?

Skills taught in a Web Design program.

Website designers require a vast array of skills, not all of which are (or can be!) taught in the classroom. However, there are certain skills that all Web designers should know. First among these is HTML (HyperText Markup Language) code, which comprises the building blocks of the Web. All Web sites, no matter how fancy or focused on Flash animation, consist of HTML at their core.

Web Design

Although most designers now use web editing programs such as FrontPage or Dreamweaver to design websites, you need to know HTML to understand what happens to the websites. For entry-level positions, this markup language can be enough. Still, for more advanced positions, you should learn one or more other markup languages, such as XML (eXtended Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and one or more scripting languages, such as JavaScript.


and ActiveX.

You will also need to learn the basics of making a Web site look neat and professional. Although it may seem elementary, a wide range of techniques are involved in creating a Website that flows well. A logical site lets the user quickly understand its purpose and easily find the necessary information. Although this is more of an art than a science, many techniques help users navigate each site more effectively and quickly. As the Web
site designer, you should be fluent in these techniques.

To work on Web sites, you’ll also need to understand the basics of how a computer operates. These technical skills enable you to set up and modify the Web site. Using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) clients to add pages and upload site changes is paramount. So is being able to adjust the site contents manually using text editor software. Some of this software allows you to view changes instantaneously, such as the Real-Time HTML Editor, which is available online. Other text editors are included with your
office computer can be installed, enabling you to work on-site content outside a site editing program.

Finally, depending on the specific career path in mind, you may need to have other skills. If you focus more on the graphic design aspect of Web design, you will need to focus on learning about vector and raster graphics. Raster graphics, comprised of grids of tiny pixels, depend on the image’s size and quality – photographs are raster images, for example. They can look blurry or sharp, depending on image size and resolution. Vector graphics use geographical points and coordinates instead of pixels and can be resized without losing image quality. Typography is also important, or the art of choosing and using fonts and typefaces. Page layout, or the skill of combining pictures, text, links, and animated images on a Web site to create a pleasing overall design, is also essential.

If, however, you are more interested in the technical aspects of maintaining a Web site, you will need to focus more on server administration, namely by learning to use Web server software (such as Microsoft IIS or Apache) and understanding how to run log analysis so you can track who visits the site, and how frequently you receive unique visitors. Other specific web design domains include site optimization, security, usability, and quality assurance. Each sub-specialty in the Web design field requires knowing the design basics described above, plus additional skills you can learn in class and on the job.

In summary, these are the types of Web design classes you can look forward to taking:

HTML and other markup/scripting languages Web site graphics and layout design Some technical skills necessary to publish a Website Other skills related to the specific type of Web design career you want to pursue How Do I Know This Web Design Program is Right for Me? Many Web design programs run the gamut from certificate programs to full degrees. These programs are offered at learning institutions ranging from small private schools to large public schools – and everything in between. Finding the specific Web or graphic design school that meets your needs from the many available schools can be challenging. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding upon a course of study in Web design:

Do I want to study online or at a traditional school? Can I fit a full-time program into my schedule or go part-time? Do I want a degree or certificate program, which is usually quicker and can help me get into the field more rapidly? Am I willing to change my schedule or where I live to learn these new skills? Am I more interested in the technical end of Web sites, or would I prefer to work on graphic design and page layout?
Does the Web design program I am interested in offer all the classes needed for the career I want to focus on? Does the school help graduates with career planning by providing job or internship placement assistance? You are well on your way to the right Web design course by answering these questions!


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.