There‘s little doubt that computer technology is one of the fastest-growing industries today. As a result, there is a good deal of demand for skilled people to develop and design web sites, and that need should continue to grow as a quality, well-designed website becomes a must for every business, large or small.
If you’re considering a career in web design, you may be wondering what the best way is to achieve your goal. Should you go to school full time, or obtain an online degree? These days, there are many quality web design degree programs that can be completed online, saving you money and allowing you to continue working in your current job while you learn. Online degrees tend to be well-received by employers involved in website building.
Web Design or Web Development?
For starters, you also need to be clear about whether you want to design or develop web sites. There can be some overlap between these two disciplines. In smaller companies, some people actually perform both of these functions at once. But generally, the web design specialist is the one who is responsible for the “look and feel” of a website. The developer is more the one who “brings the website to life” according to the vision of designers – a job that involves more tech heavy work like html coding, content management system setup and database creation, to name a few. When choosing a degree program, you will need to decide whether you want to design or build sites. (More on the specifics of web development degrees here
Where The Web Design Jobs Are
Web designers typically work in design agencies, marketing agencies or advertising firms, although some individuals work for themselves. Large companies that operate multiple websites often have web designers on their internal staffs.
Web designers spent time designing site layouts on their computers, but they are often project managers or team leaders as well. They can take the lead on web site layout/structure, development of animations, images and videos, standards of design and even business fundamentals. To prepare students for the full range of issues that can come up in this specialty, degree programs in web design programs can cover not just visual layout, but also include SEO (search engine optimization), screen resolution, image compression, web architecture, usability, programming/HTML, online communities, social media, branding concepts and more.
Associates or Bachelor’s Degree?
The time required to complete a degree program in web design can vary, depending on whether you choose to pursue an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. Which makes more sense depends on how and where you plan to use the degree. Where a design job involves managing a staff and presenting layout concepts to sales and marketing people, employers will usually hire a candidate with a bachelor’s degree, since BA and BS programs often include business and management courses. A graduate with an associate’s degree, which will be shorter and less comprehensive, is more likely to qualify for a digital layout artist type job, which will pay less, but nonetheless provide a good “foot in the door” in web design.
Of course, an online bachelor’s degree in web design will cost more than an associate’s degree. Some art and design-focused schools take a unique approach to degrees, requiring that all students earn an associate’s degree first and then sign up to take courses to finish a bachelor’s degree (rather than signing on for the bachelor’s degree right from the start, as students do in many other specialties). Associate’s degrees typically include two years of study, while continuing on to complete a bachelor’s degree program can take one or two additional years. Pursuing a degree online allows you the luxury to study at your leisure, completing courses slowly or more quickly, depending on your lifestyle and other obligations. Whatever route you choose to obtain your degree, student loans or financial assistance are options that can be pursued at almost any school, whether online or at a “bricks and mortar” school.