Does a Web Designer Need a Background in Graphic Design?

A web designer will need a background in graphic design to be successful. It’s not surprising that people get web designer and graphic designers confused, but while they might have the same fundamental design theories, the careers are very different. A web designer takes the skills and background in graphic design and elevates it to encompass web design.

What is a Web Designer?

A web designer will use their skills to work with software to create graphics for websites, online marketing or web applications. The position is one where creativity is valued. Web designers will go a few steps beyond graphic design to learn how typography and color can impact the psyche of the viewer, and the career is often about creating a good user experience.

Background in Graphic Design

A web designer will work in a web-based world where the rules of graphic design have to be adapted. While working in graphic design, you might find yourself creating a magazine with intricate detail seen in person on the glossy pages. The same fundamental skills would not translate to a webpage design. For example, while there’s color theory to worry about with both types of design, the psychology of the two designs are vastly different, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fundamentals of Effective Web Design

  • Fluid Mobile Web Layouts
  • Typography
  • Motion Graphics
  • Static or Dynamic Websites
  • Basic Coding

Important Qualities

Artistic Ability

To have a career as a web designer, you must have a bit of artistic ability. While you won’t have to create everything by hand, there are often sketches that have to be done before the work is taken to the software program. Storyboards are often used to illustrate a potential campaign to clients before it’s created.


When working with clients, creativity is an essential skill. The clients might have a vague idea about what they want, but they need the designer to bring that vision to life. If the designer is working as part of an art department in a corporation, they have to come up with ideas and brainstorm with other team members.

Customer Service and Business Skills

In any field, these are essential qualities, but it can be vital for designers who are freelance with their own business. They’ll need to market themselves, deal with clients on a daily basis and handle the accounting details of the billing process.

Computer Skills

Along with being skilled in software that will help create the graphics of the site, the web designer has to be able to do some coding for the style of the site like CSS or HTML.

Related Resource: What Types of Coding Should a Web Designer Know?

While a web designer needs a background in graphic design, they also need more advanced skills like coding and the fundamentals of a good web design that will convert viewers into customers for their clients. This can be a complicated process that goes beyond graphic design, but the design fundamentals are essential to the process.