9 Skills Every Successful Web Designer Needs — And How To Learn Them

Web Design Trends Predictions 2021: Dark Mode, Motion & More

If you’re a beginner in tech, it can be tough to figure out where to start. There are so many paths available to you — from development to design to digital marketing, and every specialization under the sun. That’s where web design comes in. It’s often a great place to dive in if you’re new to the scene.

Like many roles in tech, being a web designer requires both the creative and analytical sides of your mind. And web design is a versatile career with lots of opportunities to niche down or course-correct once you discover exactly what you love.

But what skills do you need if you want to become a web designer? In this article, we’ll cover the essential skills you need to know to get hired as a web designer, plus the soft skills that will help set you apart.

How to Learn Web Design: The Tech Skills You Need to Know to Become a Web Designer

First, let’s go over the technical side of becoming a web designer. All those strange acronyms and terms can seem intimidating, but they’re actually pretty easy once you get to know them.


What is Visual Design And Why It is Important

It might seems obvious that you need design knowledge to be a web designer, but what exactly does that mean? Well, web design is actually a subset of the larger field of visual design, so it makes sense to start there.

At Skillcrush, we teach visual design because it focuses on digital products and sets you up to succeed across design careers. When you learn visual design, you learn the fundamental design principles you need to be a web designer.

Design principles are what determine the look and feel of a site. They can range from proportions, to typography, to grid systems, to color theory. Learning visual design means creating mood boards and type hierarchy and experimenting with web fonts and color palettes.

2. UX

UI UX Design Process : A Step by Step Guide to UI/UX Process

Here come those funny abbreviations! UX stands for user experience, or how people feel (calm, frustrated, etc.) when they use a website. Above all else, UX is about approaching your designs from a user-first perspective — how can you design a website that helps them get exactly what they need?

To do that, you’ll research your users and create “personas” (profiles of imaginary ideal users). You’ll lay out the pages and content with a site map. You’ll figure out the path users take on your site in user flows. (For example, do they always click straight through to social media? Or are they just looking for contact information?) And you’ll build wireframes to sketch out the key parts of each webpage. All of these components are essential to practicing user experience design.


Like any craftsperson, to do your work you need the right tools. Knowing your way around the industry standards will be helpful in every case and critical in many. While designing a website can be done right in a web browser, tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Sketch are ones that almost all designers use for important parts of their job like creating mockups, designing assets (think logos and images), and of course modifying and enhancing photos. You should learn how to use them (although, if you’re just getting started, consider trying out a few free photoshop alternatives instead).


You might not have imagined that a web designer would need to know how to code. But nowadays it’s an expected skill for most design jobs. HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, which is the coding language used to put content on a web page and give it structure. That means it’s how you turn a bunch of words into headlines, paragraphs, and footers. And it’s also how you get the “cool” content like photos, videos, and graphics on a website.

5. CSS

CSS3 Tutorial - An Ultimate Guide for Beginners

And then there’s HTML’s partner, CSS or Cascading Style Sheets. CSS is the code that tells browsers how to format and style HTML for a web page. In other words, it’s what makes all the text and other content look good. With CSS, you can adjust the colors, change the fonts, or add a stunning background — and so much more! This is where your eye for design really shines and how you can put your creative stamp on every site you create.

Pro tip: If you want to start learning web design for free, HTML & CSS are great skills to start with. We’ve got our free 10-day coding bootcamp if you’re ready right here and now. Otherwise, take a look at our roundup of free resources for learning coding.


While you can code up your designs using just HTML and CSS, if you can also program using JavaScript, you’ll have a huge leg up against the competition. JavaScript allows you to take static elements on your site and make them interactive — think Twitter feeds that update automatically, websites that look different when you’re logged in, image sliders, and more!

Soft Skills Every Web Designer Needs

Now that you have the design and tech parts down, you only need to add some soft skills to keep yourself organized and effective in your web design work. These are the skills most web designers swear by, so save yourself some time by learning them now rather than later.


Whether you’re interested in learning web design to go freelance or to work for a company, you’ll need to stay on top of your schedule and your projects to be a standout web designer. This can mean getting to know productivity apps like task lists or calendars or, especially if you’re in a large organization, learning project tracking tools like Trello or JIRA. Whatever the tools, mastering the art of prioritizing and tracking your work will be essential for your success (and sanity!) in the busy world of web design.


Staying in touch and getting your point across are also must-have skills for a designer. You can’t make a living from building websites without great communication. You’ll need to keep clients up-to-date on the progress of their projects plus pitch ideas and explain your creations. You might even be called on to do some copywriting or editing for sites, especially if you’re running your own one person shop. So buckle down on your writing and your presentation skills, and you’ll be sure to get your point across with clients and coworkers.


The skill set of SEO (search engine optimization), digital marketing, and social media might seem like it’s meant more for a marketer or salesperson than a web designer. But, since the Internet is the way so many companies sell today, you should wrap your head around them, too. Even knowing the basics of each and keeping them in mind for both client and your own sites will get you a long way in your web designer journey.


And, as an employee or as a freelancer, understanding the bottom line will help you make sure you or your company is profitable and sustainable. You don’t have to go back for your MBA, but you should have an idea about the goals and finances of your employer or your own business so you can use them to guide your work. And, if you’re designing directly for clients, you should have a plan for making sure that your cash flow and project backlog are both healthy and doable in the short and long term.

How to Learn Web Design Online

As you can see, there’s nothing mysterious or mind-blowing about the skills you need to be a web designer, but then there is the question of where and how to learn them. A foundation in the tech side and a good handle on the organizational parts will both get you going and be there for you as you build your knowledge and your career in web design.

Skillcrush’s Break Into Tech program covers all the skills you need to become a web designer (or web developer). It includes fast tracks for getting you into your dream career quickly, over a dozen courses, plus optional course add-ons to help you niche down and find your path in tech. Our courses are fully online and include 24/7 access to materials, as well as lots of support from friendly instructors and your fellow budding web designers in the online student community. You’ll even learn how to find, land, and complete your first paying web design project within months.

If you already have some skills but are looking for a specific course in design, take a look at our Visual Designer Blueprint. It’s perfect for creative types obsessed with colors, fonts, and all things visual.

Pro tip: You don’t need any design or coding experience to get started for any of our courses. So, join us now to get that exciting and fascinating career in web design you’ve been dreaming of.

Experimental Design in Chemistry: A Review of Pitfalls (Guest Post)

his blog post is from James Cawse, Consultant and Principal at Cawse and Effect, LLC. Jim uses his unique blend of chemical knowledge, statistical skills, industrial process experience, and quality commitment to find solutions for his client’s difficult experimental and process problems. He received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Stanford University. On top of all that, he’s a great guy! Visit his website (link above) to find out more about Jim, his background, and his company.


Getting the best information from chemical experimentation using design of experiments (DOE) is a concept that has been around for decades, although it is still painfully underused in chemistry. In a recent article Leardi1 pointed this out with an excellent tutorial on basic DOE for chemistry. The classic DOE text Statistics for Experimenters2 also used many chemical illustrations of DOE methodology. In my consulting practice, however, I have encountered numerous situations where ’vanilla‘ DOE – whether from a book, software, or a Six Sigma course – struggles mightily because of the inherent complications of chemistry.

The basic rationale for using a statistically based DOE in any science are straightforward. The DOE method provides:

  • Points distributed in a rational fashion throughout “experimental space”.
  • Noise reduction by averaging and application of efficient statistical tools.
  • ‘Synergy’, typically the result of the interactions of two or more factors – easily determined in a DOE.
  • An equation (model) that can then be used to predict further results and optimize the system.

All of these are provided in a typical DOE, which generally starts simply with a factorial design.

DOE works so well in most scientific disciplines because Mother Nature is kind. In general:

  • Most experiments can be performed with small numbers of ’well behaved‘ factors, typically simple numeric or qualitative at 2-3 levels
  • Interactions typically involve only 2 factors. Three level and higher interactions are ignored.
  • The experimental space is relatively smooth; there are no cliffs (e.g. phase changes).

As a result, additive models are a good fit to the space and can be determined by straightforward regression.

Y = B0 + B1×1 + B2×2 + B12x1x2 + B11×12 +…

In contrast, chemistry offers unique challenges to the team of experimenter and statistician. Chemistry is a science replete with nonlinearities, complex interactions, and nonquantitative factors and responses. Chemical experiments require more forethought and better planning than most DOE’s. Chemistry-specific elements must be considered.


Above all, chemists make mixtures of ‘stuff’. These may be catalysts, drugs, personal care items, petrochemicals, or others. A beginner trying to apply DOE to a mixture system may think to start with a conventional cubic factorial design. It soon becomes clear, however, that there is an impossible situation when the (+1, +1, +1) corner requires 100% of A and B and C! The actual experimental space of a mixture is a triangular simplex. This can be rotated into the plane to show a simplex design, and it can easily be extended to high dimensions such as a tetrahedron.

It is rare that a real mixture experiment will actually use 100% of the components as points. A real experiment with be constrained by upper and lower bounds, or by proportionality requirements. The active ingredients may also be tiny amounts in a solvent. The response to a mixture may be a function of the amount used (fertilizers or insecticides, for example). And the conditions of the process which the mixture is used in may also be important, as in baking a cake – or optimizing a pharmaceutical reaction. All of these will require special designs.

Fortunately, all of these simple and complex mixture designs have been extensively studied and are covered by Cornell3, Anderson et al4, and Design-Expert® software.


The goal of a kinetics study is an equation which describes the progress of the reaction. The fundamental reality of chemical kinetics is

Rate = f(concentrations, temperature).

However, the form of the equation is highly dependent on the details of the reaction mechanism! The very simplest reaction has the first-order form

Rate = k*C1

which is easily treated by regression. The next most complex reaction has the form

Rate = k*C1*C2

in which the critical factors are multiplied – no longer the additive form of a typical linear model. The complexity continues to increase with multistep reactions.

Catalysis studies are chemical kinetics taken to the highest degree of complication! In industry, catalysts are often improved over years or decades. This process frequently results in increasingly complex catalyst formulations with components which interact in increasingly complex ways. A basic catalyst may have as many as five active co-catalysts. We now find multiple 2-factor interactions pointing to 3-factor interactions. As the catalyst is further refined, the Law of Diminishing Returns sets in. As you get closer to the theoretical limit – any improvement disappears in the noise!

Chemicals are not Numbers

As we look at the actual chemicals which may appear as factors in our experiments, we often find numbers appearing as part of their names. Often the only difference among these molecules is the length of the chain (C-12, 14, 16, 18) and it is tempting to incorporate this as numeric levels of the factor. Actually, this is a qualitative factor; calling it numeric invites serious error! The correct description, now available in Design-Expert, is ’Discrete Numeric’.

The real message, however, is that the experimenters must never take off their ’chemist hat‘ when putting on a ’statistics hat’!

Reference Materials:

  1. Leardi, R., “Experimental design in chemistry: A tutorial.” Anal Chim Acta 2009, 652 (1-2), 161-72.
  2. Box, G. E. P.; Hunter, J. S.; Hunter, W. G., Statistics for Experimenters. 2nd ed.; Wiley-Interscience: Hoboken, NJ, 2005.
  3. Cornell, J. A., Experiments with Mixtures. 3rd ed.; John Wiley and Sons: New York, 2002.
  4. Anderson, M.J.; Whitcomb, P.J.; Bezener, M.A.; Formulation Simplified; Routledge: New York, 2018.

Experimental Design in Chemistry

There is a continuous and growing demand for new and existing organic and inorganic chemical products. Chemical products encompass things like pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, polymers, and other functional materials, flavors/fragrances, food supplements, cosmetics, fuels, cleaning products, personal care products, and many more products.

Chemistry Experiment

Chemistry Experiment.

The identification, extraction, and synthesis of new products require chemists and biochemists to continually re-design experiments for specified outcomes. Experimental procedures are often required to carry out quality control and to identify why unwanted bi-products are produced in existing manufacturing processes. Experiments take up valuable time and resources and seldom give instantaneous results.

Research and industrial chemists, biochemists, and chemical engineers are often called upon to devise experiments to optimize chemical processes to give greater yields and greater product purity. This requires scientists and engineers to regularly design and redesign experiments. As the chemistry involved becomes more complex so does the design of the experiment and Experimental Design in Chemistry is almost a science on its own.

Traditional Experiment Design

Traditionally the process of experimental design may have started with a hypothesis or a defined research target. The chemist would then make a prediction and work out a way to test the prediction. To design the experiment the chemist would:-

  • Identify the variables
  • Arrange the conditions
  • Decide on the variables and what would variable could be manipulated
  • Carry out a Risk assessment
  • Experiment and make observations
  • Change one or more variable and repeat

The team would then repeat the process of making observations and adjustments until the required solution has been achieved or eliminated. This process was often run on an OVAT (One Variable A Time) basis which is a simple but laborious and effective way of determining the results.

Design Of Experiments

Design of Experiments is a phrase introduced by Statistician and Geneticist Ronald Fisher in 1935. Using Design of Experiments (DOE) the relationship between the factors can be varied and the relationship between the various factors can be systematically investigated using statistical analysis. This process increases the manpower required as you now need at least one mathematician and probably a statistician when designing an experiment in addition to a chemist.

Using the enhanced team and specialist software and computing power the parameters required can be designed within an hour or two rather than many days or weeks offsetting the increased personnel costs.

Artificial Intelligence  (AI) or machine learning can also help as it can be used to predict molecule properties, molecular structure, and reaction outcomes as well as optimum experimental conditions. The use of AI will potentially add an “it” specialist to the team but will reduce the time required to design the experiment. Using computers allows many iterations of any design to be carried out very quickly.

AI can also be used for “retrosynthesis”. This is the process of working backward from a target molecule to a commercially available material that can be used in the manufacture of the target molecule. Performing this manually would be time-consuming but ai makes the process quick so that the design of the experiment can begin in a short time.

Control and Monitoring

The ability to identify and isolate products is an area that is continually improving and developing. The use of chromatography, mass spectrometry, spectrography, chromatography, microscopy, and many other sophisticated techniques mean that more and complicated products can be identified.

The process of identifying them can be more and more complicated but the development of instrument and control technology opens up the opportunity to design more sophisticated experiments. Digital data capture allows for more data to be captured more accurately which allows the scientist designing the experiment to acquire and analyze more data more quickly and reach more precise conclusions.

New equipment and techniques also allow for a smaller and smaller sample to be analyzed down to picoliters or one trillionth of a liter of sample. Improved manufacturing techniques allow for very precisely built equipment operating under harsh conditions to be manufactured increasing the scope of experimental designs. Enhanced control and monitoring capability allows for a greater range of experimental conditions to be considered but also allows closer control of conditions within the experiment.


In 1971 Svante Wold invented the term Chemometrics which is the science of extracting data from chemical systems using applied mathematics and computer science data. There are now at least three peer-reviewed journals published about chemometrics.

Chemometrics is a multidisciplinary approach to experimental design which allows the chemist to design experiments that get closer to the solution before even starting the experimental process.


There are dozens of open source, free, and proprietory software packages listed on the internet for statistical analysis and chemical reaction prediction. Many of the software suppliers will have existing templates as well as the facility to custom design experiments to fit any particular set of experimental conditions or a specified outcome.


Experimental design in chemistry now opens new horizons for chemists to imagine and produce all kinds of new products. The use of modern techniques and technologies not only allows an experimental chemist to design more sophisticated experiments but also allows the chemist to start from a position where many of the unproductive options have been eliminated and a likely outcome has been predicted. DOE can also be used to optimize and improve existing chemical processes for the benefit of all concerned. The science of designing experiments will continue to develop and offer opportunities in the future.