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How to Get Experience in Web Design

If you'd like to become a web-design professional, the classic chicken-and-the-egg question comes to mind: How do I get experience without having a job, and how do I get a job without having experience? The answer is to go out and create your own experience and then present it in a nice portfolio ready to show to a potential client. Here are a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Help out a friend. Most everyone has friends who need a website designed for some legitimate purpose. Offer to design a simple site for a friend that can showcase your strengths. No one will ever know that Suzie’s Cupcakes was a site you designed for free for a friend.

  • Partner with other web professionals. After working on Suzie’s Cupcakes, you’ll realize that building a website is not easily a one-person job. Now that you have a taste, try to expand the complexity of your next site by partnering with one or more web professionals. Again, offer your talents free of charge if necessary.

  • Create a portfolio. Design and build your own website. Make it a showpiece that exhibits your work in the best light. You may need to call on some favors from other web professionals to help make it what you want it to be.

  • Learn from other sites. The web is the best place to get new design ideas. Scour the web looking for innovative visual and interaction design ideas. You can often also get HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code samples from various places online.

When you feel confident you’ve developed enough skill level to take on a paying customer, start looking online for different opportunities. Craig’s List is a fantastic resource for finding local freelance design work. There are also creative freelance agencies such as Creative Circle and Artisan Creative that specialize in web-oriented creative professionals.

Designing an award-winning site takes years of knowledge coming together. Not to state the obvious, but sell yourself in a way that’s appropriate to your present skill level and comfort zone. Many clients groan about inexperienced web designers who got in over their heads and could not deliver. Better to start small and build up experience and a solid reputation.

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