Are you interested in learning web design but not sure which path to take? Well, generally there are 3 main ways by which people in the field learn web design. Depending on your circumstances you may find one path more favorable than the other two.
In this simple post, we will discuss about the advantages, disadvantages and the major highlights in learning web design through traditional schooling vs taking online courses vs self learning (aka tinkering around on the Web). By the end of this article you should have a grand idea of what options you have and which path to consider taking.
Recommended Reading: 14 Informative & Free E-Books For Web Designers
Path 1: Academic Schooling
Across the globe many universities and colleges offer a web design degree with a carefully placed curriculum. The study is mostly linear, from studying the history of the web, basics of HTML and CSS, naming conventions, the use of Adobe Photoshop for mockups, down to heavy UX and UI theories.
Structure & Job Security
Web designers who have gone through years of schooling, arguably, have a stronger foundation which involves the topics of ethics, philosophy and theories surrounding web design. Since web design is not merely the placement of elements to make them look good, but knowing where to place things for the users’ ease of use.
Since the study of web design follows a strict curriculum, the students tend to be more methodical and follow conventions.
Another advantage is that with the current setup of every single industry, huge companies pay more attention to applicants who have degrees and, to the extreme, shuns those who don’t have any even though they have the skill. In this case, a degree is extremely important. And I should just add it here that college is a place where you can build a huge network of people that will prove helpful in the future.
Read Also: Getting A College Degree Or Self-Learning?
… But It’s Slower & The Curriculum Sluggish
The downside to this story is that in order to get a degree it will take two to four years of schooling. Another downside is, with the rate at which technology changes, practices taught in schools tend to be a bit outdated. And many schools still offer unrelated subjects like writing, philosophy, ethics, and the likes — subjects that would not really help with building a website.
Path 2: Online Schools and Courses
The beauty of the online world is that it is now filled with online schools and courses, both free and paid ones that everyone can access anytime. This includes web design courses that teaches people how to build websites from the ground up.
Compact Lessons & More Affordable
Online schools like Code School, Codecademy, and tutorial sites featuring lessons by experts who have years of experience. These tutorials and courses are usually a condensed version of what these experts have learned throughout the years. With that, these courses and tutorials will most likely only take a few weeks to a couple of months to complete. Not years, but merely months at most.
Another great thing about this? Compared to the costs of traditional schooling this is a much cheaper alternative. There are courses online that teach web design for just $25 per month, if you know where to look.
… But It’s Less Thorough & Less Accepted
The problem with these online methods for learning is that it is common for these lessons to skip the details, probably to save time and cater to their audience who are usually in a hurry.
Rather than the whole course one would expect from a full 16-week course, you get the condensed summarized version spanning 16 hours, which leans more towards practical use, less on theories. This poses the problem of subjecting learners to less than the full picture, for use in the real world.
Nonetheless, the kicker here is that big companies shy away from self-taught web designers. Granted there are some companies that value talent over certification, which is good news for freelancers, but in many industries that may have use of web designers, this is a social stigma that has yet to be resolved.
Path 3: Tinkering & Experimenting
Self-taught web designers who started learning due to their curiosity are probably the most passionate people of the bunch. They have the desire to learn how and why websites work, which makes them natural problem solvers. Most tinkerers prefer breaking things to pieces and studying each part rather than read an entire manual or watch a video.
Read Also: 30 Useful Responsive Web Design Tutorials
Driven By Passion & Problems
By nature, tinkerers take action: they love to solve the mystery that is laid in front of them. They are comfortable learning new things from scratch, without the help of specific guidelines or a thought-out flow. Tinkerers usually start learning web design by opening HTML files and learning the syntax. It also helps that web browsers right now allow anyone to inspect the code of each website and even change anything from the font size to the background color.
Tinkerers mostly rely on their analytic mind instead of looking for help, exactly the type of people that web startups are looking for. On that scene they won’t have trouble looking for work. In this rapidly changing industry, people who can learn and adapt fast are indispensable.
… But They Have Different Priorities
Since tinkerers learn on their own, the conventions used by web designers who go through some form of education will be foreign to them. Collaboration between these two groups of web designers may suffer slightly from communication and uniformity.
Some tinkerers may not even care about how the backend looks as long as the front-end is working. The HTML and CSS can be a disorganized mess for although it may look great on a browser.
Read Also: Sorting And Organizing CSS Using CSSComb
Which Path To Choose?
So there you have it, the three common paths to learning web design. Take note though that degree holders tend to supplement their knowledge with more online reading, courses, and other materials. In a similar fashion, tinkerers and online learners also actively seek out and read books to further strengthen their foundation and skills.
All in all, the choice is yours. Weigh your options carefully. Do you have enough time to go through years of schooling? Keep in mind that you can develop helpful connections if you go through this path, although it will take years of your life to get a degree.
Do you prefer to self-study either by tinkering or enrolling on online courses? You will need to be your own’s biggest supporter so that you won’t quit halfway, and the passion should be there to follow through with your learning process. So, how do you want to learn web design?