1. Play with a Website Builder

A website builder can be a great way to get comfortable with best practices and how to start building and designing websites.

Most of these tools have plenty of templates and allow you to customize elements and even add code snippets. For simple sites, many website builders also have a free plan where you can create a personal portfolio page or basic website that serves as a playground for you.

Then pick apart the pieces within the website builder. Look at how they are designed and coded to get a feel for how it all comes together. You’ll be amazed what you can figure out just by picking another design apart.

2. Find a Mentor

Is there someone you work with that you admire as a web designer? Take them to lunch and pick their brain about the industry.

Finding a mentor that is willing to work with you and help you think about the field and how to learn web design on your own can be invaluable. And while you can probably find a mentor in an online community, nothing is better than a live person that you can meet face-to-face periodically. (Maybe it is worth having online and in-person mentors.)

3. Join the CodePen Community

Once you start getting comfortable with some code and programming, you want to join the CodePen community. The open-source community allows you to share and edit code snippets in a social network of sorts.

Here’s a little more from the site’s founders: “CodePen is a social development environment. At its heart, it allows you to write code in the browser, and see the results of it as you build. A useful and liberating tool for developers of any skill, and particularly empowering for people learning to code. We focus primarily on front-end languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript and preprocessing syntaxes that turn into those things.”

4. Take a Class

For some learners, a more formal classroom setting is best.

There are a ton of classes available – in-person and online – for you to learn web design basics. Start with a local college or online learning hub such as Udemy or Coursera. Pick up a class at your current ability level and just keep moving forward.

5. Want to Do Something? Google It

For the not-so-traditional-learner, find the answer to the web design problem on Google. There are so many tutorials and videos available that can walk you through almost any problem – and solution.

The key is to search exactly what you need to know and look to a reputable source for the answer. Here’s another tip when it comes to tutorials and videos – more recent content is probably going to give you a better, more complete and more relevant answer. (Remember, some of this stuff is changing fast.)

6. Pay Attention to the User Experience

Nothing can make or break a website like user experience design. You need to plan for it and understand it.

Here’s how the Interaction Design Foundation describes UX design:

User experience (UX) design is the process of creating products that provide meaningful and personally relevant experiences. This involves the careful design of both a product’s usability and the pleasure consumers will derive from using it. It is also concerned with the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.

UX designers, or designers who are aware of the process of experience formation, seek to create and shape the factors influencing the process deliberately. To do this, a UX designer will consider the Why, What, and How of product use.

7. Pay Attention to Design Trends

What does modern website design look like? It’s not a trick question. To design modern websites and user experiences, you need to know what users want and how they are interacting with it. If the last time you downloaded an app or looked at a website on your phone was 2016, you’ve got a lot of ground to make up.

Creating website designs that have modern touches and trends integrated into the design will help your projects stand out. How do you know what’s trending? Keep reading sites like this and pay attention to what other designers are doing. Take note of colors and styles and features that are included in websites you visit frequently.