What Is Web Design?
In today's digitally focused landscape, businesses, organizations, and individuals alike rely on online media, such as websites and applications, to attract notice and tell their stories. Websites and web applications need to do so much more than simply communicate information. They need to grab a viewer's interest, tell a compelling visual story, convey a brand message, and create an enjoyable experience for the viewer. That's what web designers achieve through their work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, talented web designers who can design and build attention-getting digital media are increasingly in demand. Individuals can develop these abilities by earning a bachelor's degree in web design or a master's degree in web design, and they can accomplish these goals entirely online. But before enrolling, students may want to learn more about degree requirements, costs, and career paths.
The field of web design attracts people who have a strong aptitude for technology, as well as an artistic eye. Web designers must also enjoy problem-solving by developing several possible solutions and selecting the best option. Finally, designers need to be collaborative, as they will receive input and ideas from many different team members.
Online Bachelor's in Web Design Degrees
Online web design programs usually result in either a bachelor of arts (BA) degree or a bachelor of science (BS) degree, depending on the focus of the program. BA programs tend to emphasize the artistic aspects of web design, while BS programs typically favor the technical aspects.
In either case, most bachelor's in web design programs require the completion of 120 credit hours. About half of these credits are devoted to general education courses, while the other half are devoted to major courses and electives. Full-time students typically need four to five years to earn their degree, while part-time learners may need longer. A high school diploma or GED is required to apply for most bachelor's programs.
Web design courses rely heavily on experiential learning and hands-on projects that enable students to develop real-world skills in design and coding. Many of these projects are designed to become part of each student's portfolio that they'll use to interview for jobs after they graduate. Programs often require at least one internship and nearly all end with one or two capstone courses. Here again, capstone projects are structured to allow students to demonstrate their skills and abilities in their portfolios.
Online web design programs are designed to prepare graduates to enter the workforce as designers specializing in digital media. Other possible career paths include designing mobile applications or front-end development.
Courses in an Online Bachelor's Degree in Web Design
Introduction to Web Design
This course introduces many of the tools and techniques used in web design. Students practice using the web design prototyping process, which includes conducting research, generating wireframes, and creating design mock-ups. Learners also explore the back-end technical aspects of website production, including HTML, CSS, and search engine optimization.
In this course, students discover how to incorporate motion as a design element in their websites. Coursework allows students to develop technical skills by using industry-standard software, such as Adobe After Effects and Adobe Animate.
In this course, students explore two of the core principles in website and application development — user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) — that enhance the way users interact with and understand digital media. Topics include user interaction, usability, and iconography. Coursework may also cover usability testing methods.
Web Design Specializations & Concentrations
A web design program is frequently a concentration within a digital media or graphic design program. However, a few schools offer web design degrees that can be further customized through concentrations. Some of these areas of specialization include web development, user interface and user experience design, and social media and new media design. Students typically need to take two to four electives in the concentration instead of general electives to earn this designation.
How Much Does an Online Bachelor's in Web Design Cost?
The total cost of earning an online bachelor's degree in web design varies dramatically. Typical annual tuition fees for web design and digital media programs range from approximately $4,400-$52,800. Although online students do not have to pay for room and board or for transportation to and from school, they will need to pay for books, supplies, and other fees.
Web design supplies include a high-end computer that can accommodate the sophisticated programs used in this field. A subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud, which costs students $20/month for the first year and $30/month after that, is likely to be required. Students may also need to purchase other software or subscriptions, depending on the courses in their program.
Some online students may be able to offset the costs by receiving financial aid from the federal or state government or from the schools themselves. Learners may also want to apply for private scholarships available to students enrolled in design and technology degree programs.
What Can You Do With a Web Design Bachelor's Degree?
An online web design bachelor's degree is designed to prepare you for a number of different web design jobs in a wide range of industries. Depending on an individual's skills and experience, a web design salary may fall in the range of $50,000-$80,000.
Possible employers include large organizations that hire in-house design staff or design firms that work for clients. Design firms hiring web designers may offer many design services or specialize in advertising, marketing, public relations, digital media development, UX/UI design, e-commerce, or gaming and entertainment. Designers may also choose to be self-employed. The following are three of the common occupations pursued by web design degree holders.
Annual Median Salary: $77,200
Job Outlook: 13%
Web developers and digital designers usually collaborate with other team members to design and build websites and apps. Front-end web developers are responsible for designing the look and functionality of digital media, including text, graphics, and other digital media. After getting approval for their mock-ups, they often work with back-end web developers, who use programming languages like HTML to write the code that governs how the website or app looks and acts.
Annual Median Salary: $78,790
Job Outlook: 16%
There's a growing need for special effects artists and animators in the entertainment, media, and video gaming industries. These designers typically work with other artists to conceive and develop the look of animations. They then use computer programs to create two-dimensional and three-dimensional computer models that appear to move.
Annual Median Salary: $50,710
Job Outlook: 3%
Because students enrolled in web design programs often take many of the same courses as graphic design students, web designers are equipped to become graphic designers as well. Graphic artists develop the layout and design for both print and digital products, including selecting the colors, fonts, and images. Although the median annual salary for all graphic designers is $50,710, those who work in specialized design services may earn a salary near the median of $58,610.
What to Look for in a Web Design Program
Many factors go into deciding which program is the best online bachelor's web design option for your needs and goals. In addition to tuition cost, some other important considerations include the following:
Is the school accredited by an approved agency? Enrollment in an accredited school is required to be eligible for federal financial aid, and it may be required to transfer credits to another school or for acceptance into graduate school. You can check to see whether a school is accredited by using the databases provided by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education. A few individual web design programs may also be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, which also features a database of accredited programs.
Is the school's location important to you? If you're studying online, this may not be a priority, but you may still want to consider location, especially as it relates to in-state and out-of-state tuition.
Faculty and Staff
Are the program's faculty members well-known and respected? Web design programs often hire adjunct faculty so that students get the benefit of learning from practicing professionals who know the latest trends and technology developments. Your instructors may become mentors or members of your professional network.
Does the program's online format work for you? Most online web design programs offer asynchronous courses, meaning that you complete assignments on your own time as long as you meet assigned deadlines. Other programs, however, feature synchronous courses, which require you to join in virtual class meetings at designated times. Choose a format that will give you the flexibility you need to work with your schedule and personal learning preferences.
Does the school offer online students resources, such as career coaching for interviews and portfolio presentations? If you're considering an online program, you may want to confirm that these resources are available to you before enrolling.