Join Lauren Bacon for an in-depth discussion in this video How does someone break into web design and development?, part of Creative Insights: Lauren Bacon on Web Design.
Yeah, a lot of people ask me about how they get into a career in web design and development. And, you know, I often tell them my story, because what, what I did starting out is, I was actually self-taught. This was the mid to late 90s, so it was very early days. But I was in university at the time, and I had a roommate who was working as a web designer. When almost nobody was doing that for a living. And I asked him if he would teach me what he knew how to do.
So he taught me HTML, and he taught me how to use Photoshop. And then he started delegating his grunt work to me, eventually started handing me a few little freelance gigs. And I just kind of built up my skills over time, really gradually, out of passion, out of a real fascination with building stuff. And so, I always recommend to people that they, really follow their heart and get into what they're interested in and dig into it, and just learn by doing, you know? I think practice, and the apprenticeship model is a really good place to start.
So if you can find some projects to kind of dig into even if they're volunteer projects, personal projects are a great place to start. So, you know, if you want to build your own blog or start designing your own, you know, little portfolio site or a niche site for a subject area that's interesting to you, that's a great place to get started. and, you know, over time you'll start to develop the tools in your tool kit, so to speak. So, you know, you might learn, a couple snippets of code that you start to reuse over and over, you might learn a few different software tools.
And eventually you'll get to a point where, instead of learning your way around the tools constantly, you'll start to develop enough fluency with them that you know what tools are appropriate for what kind of jobs. So that's really where you know, where it starts to get really fun and interesting, and I find that that's, so, what I generally say to people who are starting out is like, find a place that you're interested in and just start making stuff, you know. I think it's really tempting to think that we need to be certified in all of the stuff.
Or to go to school and get some kind of stamp of approval. What I've found is that actually a lot of schools are a little bit behind the curve, just because of the way that they're built. Like, they have to plan the curriculum so far in advance, that a lot of the time, they're working from what was big last year. so, you're always going to learn more from just diving right in and, you know, getting a little messy, and you know, you might not, it might not be as polished or as structured. But so many of the people I know in the industry, that's how they started.
They just started looking at the source code of web pages, or they started getting involved in the forums at Stack Overflow, or whatever it is, and just started piecing things together bit by bit.