How to Break into the Website Design Industry

By Staff Writer Published on February 8, 2016

Sometimes getting a job in graphic design or web design might feel like a catch-22. To get a job, you need experience. But to get experience, you need a job. How can you break in if you’ve never had a job in web design before? With the right educational background, it’s totally doable.

Here are five tips for how to break into this growing, fulfilling industry.

1. Freshen up your skills

The simplest way to make yourself stand out is to make the best product. But technology is changing so fast, you have to make sure you’re on the cutting edge. Studying the latest trends, and making sure your programming language skills are up to date for developing mobile apps, databases and web sites, is the first step toward landing a web development job.

2. Hone your portfolio

You need a body of work that shows potential employers you’re good at building apps, presentations and user interfaces. Upper level web programming and mobile app development classes teach you how to do it—and send you off with projects you can add to your portfolio. The stronger your portfolio, the easier it will be to sell potential employers on your skills.

3. Give it away for a while

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get hired full time right away. One of the best ways to get work is to volunteer for a little while. Does a local non-profit need help designing an app to help organize its volunteers? Are any online businesses looking for a web design intern? Even if you have to keep your “day job” for a little while, building experience through pro bono—or volunteer—work takes you a step closer to landing a full-time gig, instead of just sending out resume after resume.

4. Apply best practices

The best thing about internships and pro bono work is that you get employer feedback without the risk of being actually employed. Take the chance to apply the best practices you learned in your classes, and listen carefully to the feedback you get from clients. Does the app do what the client needs it to do? Is the design what they were hoping for? This is the time to learn how to use the skills you learned in class to please a client—and maybe even earn a referral or a paid job.

5. Nail down a freelance or contract gig

Once you’ve started designing web sites, programs or apps for clients—even if you’re doing it for free—you’ll have the work experience and references you’ll need to apply for a full-time position. Or if you realize you enjoy the flexibility of choosing projects and clients, you can start charging for your contract work and keep working as a freelancer.

Jobs are opening every day in web development and graphic design. It just takes some education, a little experience and creativity to land a satisfying position.