Every website needs a designer. And if you want a really good website, then you’ll need a really good graphic designer. But do you consider education as a factor when choosing a designer? Or do you merely base it off of a portfolio?
Most designers we’ve encountered do have degrees, but not all studied graphic design specifically. Some studied art—painting, drawing, sculpting — while others came from the programming side. Some came from online web design degree programs, and yes, some didn’t hold any formal degrees at all. And in working with designers from all backgrounds we’ve learned this: All that matters when choosing a graphic designer is how well they design (and if they’re pleasant to work with, that’s always a plus).
Does having a design degree make you a better designer? Absolutely. Do you need a degree to be a great designer? Absolutely not. But, that’s not to say forgoing the degree doesn’t have its caveats. There are always skeptics out there, and if you run into any of them, here’s some tips on navigating the design world without the cred(its) to back you up:
(1) Keep A Solid Portfolio
This is obvious for any designer, degree or not. But it’s especially important for a self-taught designer that your portfolio is not only killer, but it’s presented in a very aesthetically pleasing way. You’re a designer, so make sure your online portfolio looks pretty.
(2) Get Some People To Vouch For You
References are an effective way of convincing clients that you’re the real deal. It’s really easy and non-threatening to ask a client for a reference immediately after you wrap up a great project for them—you can always store the reference for later use. Plus it eliminates that awkward “remember me!” phone call.
(3) Always Be Learning
Degree or not, great designers are constantly honing their craft, just as is every professional who creates things: writers, programmers, people who make specialty couches. Making things is hard, so make sure you as a designer are always learning from others how to best practice your trade.
There is always value in education, but if you’re wondering what you need to be a web designer, the answer is in the question. You need to design things for the web. How you learn to do that well is up to you.