When you’re starting in web design, its hard to build up a portfolio of websites behind you to explore and develop your web design skills.
Practicing and developing your web design skills is especially important when you’re aiming for a career in web design and you need to have those skills before you take on real-world clients or projects.
And so, here are 5 ways that you can practice getting better at web design best suited for beginners wanting to get into the industry.
1) Study the NN Group’s Articles
The NN Group are “World Leaders in Research-Based User Experience”. As a company, they provide consulting in User-Experience and Web Usability. But their website is a treasure-trove for all things web design.
They talk about what truly makes for good web design, backed up by research. Instead of talking about making websites look appealing, they focus on the UX aspect. For example, how sliders and carousels negatively affect a user’s experience, and how form inputs should have placeholder text and labels so users always know what form their typing into.
They touch on so many other topics like website footers, navigation, layout, fonts, breadcrumbs, the colors of visited links, sitemaps, sliders, and much more.
The more content you consume and learn from their website, the better you can create an objectively researched-backed website design that’s great for user experience.
2) Do Free Web Design for Non-Profits
This is a great way to better your web design skills while doing some good at the same time.
There are non-profits and organizations being made all the time that understand the importance of a website, which is where you can come in.
There are charity boards websites you can find in your area where organizations go to post looking for volunteers. Considering not many people volunteer, if you have a portfolio that has some decent samples of your work you have a good chance of getting the gig.
If you’re in Canada, Charity Village is your best bet. And if you’re in the US you can try Volunteer Match. I recommend checking the charity boards once a week to get into contact of the non-profit before someone else does.
3) Make Your Own Websites
When your practicing your web design skills, there’s nothing more worth your time than to create your own websites.
If you’re just starting out and are thinking about web design as your future career, you’re going to need a portfolio to showcase your skills for when you’re trying to get hired by a company or even potential clients.
Your portfolio can be more than the past website projects you’ve worked on, it also is a place to really sell yourself to potential employers showcasing your skills, passions, and information about you.
If you already have your own portfolio you can make websites for factious companies to make your portfolio even bigger. Id recommend having at least 6 solid websites to include in your portfolio for a potential employer to have a good idea of your skills..
4) Critique Peoples Website Designs
Even if you think you’re not qualified to critique other people’s websites, you can still have a positive impact on other people’s designs and personally get a lot from doing it.
You may not be familiar with the best web design practices, but there’s something to that – having a fresh perspective. Reviewing a website from a non-web designer’s perspective can give less biased feedback and have the point of view of a traditional viewer, which is arguably more helpful.
Reddit is easily my favourite place to give and receive web design critiques. There’s a subreddit called r/design_critiques specially made for digital designers looking for feedback.
On the subreddit every Friday, there are weekly threads where people can post their website URLs or Imgur links to get feedback on their work. Anywhere from 10-30 people usually participate (including myself) in an effort to mutually improve everyone’s designs.
5) Watch Experts On YouTube
Another great way to gain wisdom in web design fast is to follow experts on YouTube. I personally make my own web design videos that provide teach people proper web design. There are a lot of other experts out there too, providing their own learnings over many years of web design experience to teach you wise and unwise practices.
If you’re not a reader, videos are a great way to visually learn web design. Subscribing to web design YouTube channels also give you the added benefit of keeping you up-to-date with the latest design trends and technologies.
My YouTube channel is a good place to start, but there are many other great channels out there that can help make you a better web designer.
6) Take Online Courses
Though not necessary, taking online courses can further your web design skills in a short amount of time. I say it’s not necessary because usually online courses can cost quite a lot, not to mention sometimes these courses are done lecture style making it also a sceduled time commitment to be there for the online lesson.
Some course platforms like Codeacademy allow you to sign and work through the course whenever you want, but it’s usually made for learning programming languages instead of theory and principles like the visual aspect of web design would be. Coding is either a helpful or required skill depending on what branch of web design you want to get into. If you do plan to develop websites (beyond a photoshop file) and actually put them on the web coding skills are a must, so I would definietly start there.
If you are looking for more of a course format, you can even find lectures, lessons, and organized material on YouTube for free.