Must have skills for a pro web designer in 2024?

Once in a couple years I come back and ask the same question because the market needs and the technology are always changing.

What are the technologies and skills a pro web designer must try learning in addition to the obvious, like HTML and CSS?

It would be interesting to see your summaries from the previous surveys.

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Well ultimately I don’t think the market needs are changing that rapidly for web designers. Now web developers are a whole other story. If you know HTML/CSS/JavaScript and have a good eye for design, great at communication and have some skills mocking up your designers for devs to implement, that is pretty much the same for the last several years.

If anything I would say that “designers” are kind of a dying breed in that developers are seen as both programmers and designers, which is the wrong way to think about it but the way most companies that don’t know any better think about it.

I have been a web dev for over 25 years and I can tell you that just about every company hires me as a dev but expects me to design a bit as well. Just the nature of the game. What I am trying to push back against is that devs also being DevOps which is really stretching people thin. Designer, developer and DevOps all in one role? And you expect them to be good at them all? Tall order. No wonder companies say they “can’t find enough talent”. :slight_smile:


Last time I asked it was “complete mastery of HTML and CSS”. More recently, there is something called WordPress. I’m not familiar with it. Is it a drag and drop visual web authoring environment like Dreamweaver, but even dumber? I learned Dreamweaver in 1998. It was a product for people who can’t/wont learn HTML or maybe they believe their productivity will be faster with Dreamweaver.

I feel your pain, that’s why 20 years ago I gave up on trying to be a commercial web designer and entered a different industry. The skills they were asking were too hard to learn for the average person. And if you are the world champion in Java and C++ and you think programming is easy, then good for you, but I am not you.

I even took web design courses where the program director kept on moving the goal posts. One day HTML was the greatest thing ever, and six months later it was no longer marketable. Now we had to learn MySQL to find a job.

We are graduating in 2 months, there wasn’t enough time to master MySQL in time for the graduation and the job hunt.

Wordpress is nothing new, it’s been around for… I don’t know, but a long time.

It’s a CMS, which means that the client (without being a developer or designer) can manage the site’s content once the site is up and running. Though they would typically use a dev/company to set the site up for them in the first place.
I wouldn’t put it down as a “must have” skill, unless you plan on producing WP sites (many do) or want a job with a comany that produces WP sites.
As I said, a lot of devs do use WP, because it can be quicker/easier to set up a site that way and there are a lot of themes/templates out there which takes away a lot of work. Also if thier client wants to manage the content, is is probably the most popular CMS out there.

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If you got that response about HTML and CSS being “mastery” within the last 20 years or so, I’d suggest that survey gave you a pretty narrow view. Most web sites are made up of those two plus Javascript, plus something providing server-side capability. Personally I’d consider “pro web designer” (i.e. you can make money designing web sites) to consist minimally of those four components, plus some design skills. Will that allow you to make any possible web site? No, but nobody has every single skill under their belt. There’s a lot of ongoing, as-needed learning with a vast set of other technologies and tools, always growing.

Not strictly on topic, WordPress was launched in 2003.

I left the industry in 2022 so I guess I missed all the fanfare. I really loved the Dreamweaver back in the day.

Correction I left the industry in 2002, not 2022. Typo.

What tools or programs are most commonly used to provide “server-side capability”?

The main thing you need is your editor for writing code. But for developing a site with things going on at the server side, you need to set up a development environment to emulate your server.
I use Docker for that, which is quite felxible. I previously used Wamp, which is less flexible as it limits you to using Apache for the server, PHP for the server side language and PhpMyAdmin for DB management.
With Docker you can set up pretty much anything you like.
I’m sure there are other tools, but that’s what I use and have used.


A crucial area to explore is JavaScript frameworks. jQuery, once a powerhouse for simplifying complex scripting challenges, laid the groundwork for understanding how frameworks can streamline development. Today, React stands out for its efficiency and the reactive user experiences it enables. Mastering React—or even Vue.js and Angular—can significantly elevate the dynamism and interactivity of your web projects.

WordPress, traditionally celebrated for its intuitive content management capabilities, has evolved remarkably. The concept of WordPress as a Headless CMS is gaining traction. This approach decouples the front-end presentation layer from the back-end content management, enabling developers to use WordPress for content storage and management while employing modern front-end technologies (like React or Vue.js) to deliver the user experience. This hybridisation allows for more responsive, scalable, and secure websites.

Furthermore, the WordPress ecosystem has been enriched with advanced Page Builders such as Elementor, Breakdance, Bricks, and Oxygen Builder. These tools have revolutionised how we think about web design, making it accessible to novices and experts to craft beautiful, responsive sites without delving deep into code.

However, understanding these builders’ underlying principles and potential limitations is essential for creating optimised, custom-tailored websites that stand out.

I prefer using Oxygen Builder because I can still use HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP but neatly packaged together within a CMS.

The designer’s learning journey is continuous. By embracing JavaScript frameworks like React, exploring WordPress as a Headless CMS, and using Page Builders, you’ll stay competitive and expand your horizons.

I always tend to ensure that I have a good understanding of various Adobe products and Canva for some graphics-related tasks. So, I believe that graphic design skills should be learned and kept up to date alongside the development side of things.


To stay current in web design, a professional should focus on learning:

  1. JavaScript: Essential for creating interactive and dynamic websites.
  2. UX/UI Design: For improving user experience and interface.
  3. SEO Basics: To optimize websites for search engines.
  4. Responsive Design: To ensure websites work well on various devices.

I believe it’s crucial to acquire additional skills for web development and design to truly flourish and innovate in this field.