There’s a whole idea, and something I believed when I was younger, that to be good at something you need talent for it. I felt like quite a failure over a lot of things but then with learning web design and development I put in a lot of learning and practice and I found I didn’t fail at it. You don’t really need to be talented, it is great if you are, mostly you just need to learn how to do something, then practice it – repeatedly, until you feel comfortable doing it. Or in other words this web-comic by Sarah Anderson:
To practice designing or creating websites, the first and best practice will be your portfolio; as it will probably mean more to you. I fully re-created my portfolio over 5 times before my current one with many half-finished versions languishing on my laptop. I have many sites, such as a tourist and baking site plus loads of illustrations that will never see the light of day as they aren’t very good but they were very good practice. Don’t hesitate to start, whatever it is, even if you don’t finish, you can always come back to it later.
Design and programming are both areas where you will always be learning and it never stops. There is always something new that can come out, a new language/framework, new design software, it doesn’t really end. But don’t worry about not knowing everything because everyone in these areas are in the same boat. This quote from Janet in the Great British Bake Off is always good to remember:
No person is an island, so finding someone you know who does do programming, creates websites or is a designer, will really help when learning. If there isn’t anyone in your friends/family circle that can give support or help, then use social media to ask for help and if anyone wants to partner up to learn together. Getting help and support with problems can make a lot of difference, none of us can do everything by ourselves, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Getting your portfolio reviewed will really help you gain insight into what areas you are doing well in and where you can improve. Do this at multiple points in your learning and practice progression and keep notes as a reminder. You can have someone you know look over your portfolio but keep in mind they will probably need to know what you are learning in order to give suitable feedback. Reddit is also another way to get feedback, as there are many subreddits dedicated to areas such as web design, development, freelancing, blogging etc. You can post any questions relating to the subject area or link to your portfolio to request feedback if the subreddit allows it, as in r/web_design.
Starting out you will need experience in designing or creating websites for other people to showcase on your portfolio. If you don’t have any, as you don’t tend to get hired for a job without experience (in general), getting experience is a must! You can start off by asking around in your local area if there is a small business/ ‘mom and pop’ shop who would like a website. You can also look at volunteering and charity events, where you can go and offer your services for free. That’s how I got my first bit of real-world experience and I also helped a charity who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford to update their site.