If you have thought about becoming a web designer or are in the process of learning then you probably know that you need to learn HTML and, hopefully, you know that you need to learn CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).  One of the big advantages to web design is that you can learn by doing.  You don’t have to get a degree or pass some certification courses before you start doing web design.  In fact you can put up your own website without having to learn one bit of HTML or CSS.  I’m not sure that this makes you a web designer, but it is a start.

The method that I purpose to get started involves learning as you do it, and possibly making money as you learn.  That’s right, $cha-ching$!

1. Start by learning the web design basics:

Go through the basic HTML tutorials at the W3 Schools website here: http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_intro.asp and then go through the basic CSS tutorials here: http://www.w3schools.com/css/css_intro.asp.  These will give you a very good understanding of content and layout factors for the rest of the following steps.

You will also need to understand how to use FTP (File Transfer Protocol).  FTP is how you upload the files you create for your site from your computer to the server that will host your site.

Unless you want to adopt a minimalistic mid 1990’s retro style where no one had the bandwidth to put images on their website, you need some graphics and images.  Start going through one to three of these tutorials each day: http://psd.tutsplus.com/tag/basix/, of course you will need Adobe Photoshop for these.  There is no need to have the latest cutting edge software if you are just starting out.  I recommend either purchasing an older version on eBay for a much cheaper price, or you can go with the less expensive Adobe Elements, or the free open source software GIMP, http://www.gimp.org/. (You can also try GIMPshop which closely resembles Photoshop and uses the same layout and names.  Many Photoshop tutorials will work with GIMPshop  as well.)

2. Create your own website

Start using the tools and knowledge above to create your own site.  Don’t finish step one before starting your site.  You will learn better if you practice everything you are learning above as you create your own site.  They say necessity is the mother of invention, and it is the mother of learning as well.

For this you will need a domain and a server to host it on.  No you will not create your own server and stick it in your basement or garage.  For this see “The 4 Things You Will Need to Create Your Website” and then “How to Choose The Right Domain.”

While creating your own site make sure you look at other websites to get ideas.  This will not be the final version of your site.  Most designers go through several drafts at the beginning as their skills rapidly grow and they want to try new things or get quickly tired of their old site.

 Part 2 of How to Become a Web Designer >>

This is the first of a 3 part series. In the next 2 parts I will talk about announcing yourself to the world, developing your portfolio, marketing yourself and targeting your clientele.