Web Design Degrees VS Short Courses

Let’s first start off with the kind of Education a Website Designer needs. We will then move on to discussing if it is worth going to college to study a 4 year degree, compared to short courses.

What Kind of Education Does a Website Designer Need?

There are no set education requirements to become a website designers, and some motivated individuals may be able to break into this field simply by learning design and programming skills on their own. Website design is a rapidly growing and highly competitive industry, however, and successful website designers usually have at least a few years of post-secondary school under their belts.

A website designer needs to be artistic as well as computer savvy. Therefore, most website design degree programs focus on combining digital media courses with computer and web programming courses. At the very least, website designers should know basic web programming languages, particularly HTML and CSS.

There are lots of ways to get the education and experience needed to become a professional Web designer or developer. But there are some basics that you should know in order to get a job so that you can gain the experience needed for more advanced jobs.

Basic Web Development Knowledge You’ll Need

  1. HTML
    Some people will tell you that because WYSIWYG programs are so wide-spread, you don’t need to learn HTML, but unless you’re going to stay in business for yourself, eventually you will come across a hiring manager or firm who wants you to prove you know HTML. Beyond that, HTML is the backbone of Web design, and if you know how Web pages are put together, you will be better at the job – even with a WYSIWYG editor.
  1. CSS
    Cascading style sheets are what make your pages look good. And even if you’re planning on doing more Web programming than Web design, you should know how CSS works. The content and behaviors of the Web page interact with the CSS to create the full design, and CSS can become very complicated.

College is a considerable investment of both time and money. If you want to be a web designer, is college worth it?

The Theory

College is a well respected social institution. The reigning public opinion is that it’s the best path to an honorable and prosperous career. For many parents, their child’s degree is a tremendous source of pride, especially if there’s a family tradition of a common alma mater. College is also an opportunity to join clubs, play sports, and find lifelong friends. If you want to be a web designer, surely this is an excellent value proposition. Right?

The Reality

Wrong. There’s a lot of wrong-ness to dig into here, but let’s start with the most obvious offenders first: time and money.

The time is probably what’s most shocking. A four-year degree takes exactly that: four years! Assuming you live until you’re 80 years old, you only have 20 of these four-year periods in your life. Those four years could be spent working a full-time job where you earn money and gain real experience, but this opportunity cost is rarely considered.

There are plenty of things on a university campus to distract from this hollow void. The sports, fitness centers, swimming pools, activities, dorm life, clubs, Greek life… the list goes on. It’s like taking a vacation at an expensive resort hotel, when instead you could be building savings and a career.

Degrees Don’t Provide Job Ready Skills

College degrees rarely focus on critical thinking skills that apply directly to a job. If the purpose of your education is to start a career, this is a critical point to understand.

For example, lots of students pursue a B.S. in computer science because they want to create software products, like websites or iPhone apps. While the science of computation is certainly foundational to ideas in software design, these two fields sit at different tiers of abstraction. There’s a need for both; higher level fields like web design would not be possible without low level compilers and logic switches. However, by the time most college students grasp the difference, they’re already too far into their four years to make a change. Software is the application of computer science. Both are awesome, and while they are related, they are not interchangeable.

Many people will disagree. Indeed, college is great at building a broad foundation for higher understanding, but at some point, the knowledge has to connect with the task at hand. You don’t have to understand binary math in order to write HTML in a text editor.

Many Employers Don’t Care About Degrees

Employers in the software and media industries don’t put much weight on degrees because many technological concepts are outdated by the time you graduate. Technology changes too rapidly for traditional institutions to keep up, which is a big reason why we offer Short Courses. We have had students that have 4 year degrees but step into the class and struggle because they have learned the older ways.

We have asked students what they think about doing short courses compared to 4 year degrees and they say that they have learnt more in three weeks than in the four years of studying. As you know we are in a digital world that changes constantly so we keep up to date with a practical approach. Most Web Design Companies look at what you are capable of, how neat your work is and how you work with a team rather then a degree. When working with a team they will need to be able to follow your work. If it is all over the place it will make it difficult to work with.

Here at Web Design Academy, we offer short Practical Web Design Courses.

We offer a 4 range of Digital Online Marketing, Design and Development courses in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal. Our levels start from absolute beginner to very advanced. We are proud to be one of the very few institutes offering practical, face-to-face instructor lead courses in these subjects.

  • Introduction to Web Design with Dreamweaver CS6 – R3100.00 – 1&1/2 Days
  • Advanced Web Design with WordPress – R3500.00 – 1&1/2 Days
  • HTML5 & CSS3 – R1700.00 -1 Day
  • Social Media Marketing – R1700.00 – 1 Day
  • Flash with ActionScript Complete – R3500.00 – 1&1/2 Days
  • Design for Mobile Complete – R3100.00 – 1&1/2 Days
  • Search Engine Optimisation – R1700.00 – 1 Day
  • Graphic Design For Web & Print – R3500.00 – 2 Days
  • jQuery For Web Designers – R1700.00 -1 Day
  • e-Commerce With WordPress – R400.00 – 1/2 Day
  • PHP & MySQL – R4200.00 – 2 Days

View Our Web Design Short Courses


Web Design Academy
Practical Web and Graphic Design Courses. We offer a range of subjects to cover all aspects of Website Design, Software Development and Graphic Design. We also have subjects in Search Optimisation and Social Media Marketing. Become a Front End Developer, Full-Stack Developer or Designer.
Showing 7 comments
  • Avinash Kumar

    Thanks for sharing such informative and helpful blog post and you are doing a good job so keep posting such amazing articles

  • Jeffrey

    Hi, This is so true. I completed a 3 year degree and our course material contained using tables and very old ways of designing websites. While studying I looked online and the information supplied online and what we were learning was two completely different things. This was 2 years ago. So I will definitely recommend people in the web industry doing short courses. The tech is changing too often. 3-4 years later you wont know what’s happening anymore :) Great post.

  • Nkanyiso Ncube

    I would live to study all your Courses above, would you tell me the discount

  • Heather


    You mention having practical courses in Durban and Johannesburg however your premise maps show Durban and Centurion (Pretoria). Do you have premises in Johannesburg, say..close to Randburg ?

  • NellOsterrxn

    This article is very interesting, it can go viral easily, with
    some initial traffic, how to bring visitors to it? Just search in g00gle for – rilkim’s tips

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