Self-Taught Vs. Formal Web Design Education: Key Tips for Choosing Your Path

Self-Taught Vs. Formal Web Design Education: Key Tips for Choosing Your Path

Self-Learning Vs. Formal for Web Design EDU

In today’s rapidly evolving world, the traditional notion of education is challenged by the rise of self-taught individuals.

With the advent of the internet and the abundance of online learning resources everywhere, many people are questioning the necessity of a formal education.

While a college degree was once the standard requirement for securing a job, the paradigm is shifting, and companies increasingly value skills and experience over formal qualifications.

This article will dive into the benefits and disadvantages of teaching yourself and going through formal education.

It will assist you in making a smart choice based on your goals and aspirations.

Table of Contents

Do You Need A Degree To become a Web Designer?

Do Web Designers need Degrees

No, you don’t have to have a degree to be a web designer.

While a bachelor’s degree or formal education in web design can be helpful, it’s not mandatory.

Many successful web designers are self-taught or have learned through online courses, workshops, and certifications.

More important in web design is having a strong portfolio showcasing your skills and creativity.

Practical experience and the ability to demonstrate your ability to build visually appealing and functional websites are often more valuable to potential employers or clients than a degree in computer science.

In the end, a degree can open up some opportunities and offer structured learning, but it’s not the only way to succeed in web design.

Passion, continuous learning, and a robust portfolio are key factors for success in this field.

What is Self Learning?

Self Learning

Self-learning, also known as self-education, is the process of learning without formal instruction or guidance.

It involves taking responsibility for one’s own learning, seeking out resources, and developing skills independently.

Self-taught individuals have the freedom to set their own learning pace and explore topics that interest them.

With the advent of the internet, self-education has become more accessible than ever before, with a wealth of information and learning material available at our fingertips.

Pros of Self-Learning for Web Design

Self Learning Web Design

Self-education offers numerous benefits for individuals willing to take charge of creative aspects of their learning journey.

Some of the advantages:

Flexibility and Control

Self-education has a big advantage: you get to control how you learn.

You can go at your own speed, pick the subjects you like, and make your learning fit your needs.

This means you can learn in a way that’s just right for you, and it helps you understand things better.

Wide Range of Resources

The internet has revolutionized the way we access information and learn new skills.

With self-education, you have access to a vast array of resources, from online courses and tutorials to forums and communities where you can connect with like-minded individuals.

Having lots of different resources lets you learn in a more complete and varied way.

It helps you see different points of view and understand the subject even better.

Enhanced Engagement and Retention

When you take ownership of your learning, you tend to be more engaged and invested.

Self-education encourages active learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, which can lead to better retention of information.

When you actively look for information and do your own research, you’re more likely to connect ideas and really get what you’re learning about.

Building Self-Esteem and Independence

Self-education empowers individuals to take control of their own learning and develop a sense of self-confidence and independence.

By overcoming challenges and acquiring new skills through self-study, you build self-esteem and become more self-reliant.

This sense of accomplishment can positively impact other areas of your life and career.

Learning at Your Own Pace

One of the major advantages of self-education is the ability to learn at your own pace as you want.

Unlike formal education, which often follows a predetermined curriculum and timetable, self-study allows you to set your own learning speed.

This flexibility reduces the stress and pressure associated with traditional education and allows you to focus on areas that require more attention or exploration.

Encouraging Curiosity and Lifelong Learning

Self-education fosters curiosity and a love for learning.

When you can pick what you want to learn, you’re more likely to stay interested and excited about learning.

This intrinsic motivation for self-teaching fuels a lifelong love for learning and encourages continuous personal and professional growth.

While self-education offers many benefits, it is also important to consider the limitations.

Limitations of Self-Taught Education

Self Taught Education Limitations

While self-education provides valuable opportunities for learning and growth, there are some inherent limitations to consider:

Lack of Guidance and Structure

One of the main challenges of self-education is the lack of formal guidance and structure in the learning process.

Without a teacher or instructor to provide direction and feedback, navigating the learning process and ensuring that you are acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills can be challenging.

Self-learners must be self-disciplined and proactive in seeking out resources and feedback.

Potential for Distractions

When learning on your own, it can be easy to get distracted by external factors.

Without the structure and accountability of a formal educational setting, it requires high discipline and focus to stay on track.

Distractions such as social media, personal commitments, or other hobbies can hinder progress and impact the effectiveness of self-education.

Lack of Motivation

Self-education requires a high level of self-motivation and discipline.

Without external pressures or deadlines, it can be challenging to maintain a consistent learning routine and stay motivated.

Self-learners must find ways to stay motivated and hold themselves accountable for their learning progress.

What is Formal Education?

Formal Education
Formal education refers to a structured and organized system of learning that typically takes place in institutions such as schools, colleges, and universities.

It follows a standardized curriculum and is guided by established educational institutions and authorities.

Formal education is characterized by a set of rules, regulations, and specific requirements, including attendance, examinations, and certification.

In formal education, students often progress through a series of grades or levels in school, with each level building upon the knowledge and skills acquired in the previous one.

It is typically led by trained educators and instructors who impart knowledge in various subjects and disciplines.

The Pros of Formal Education for Web Design

front end web development

While self-education offers unique advantages, formal education also has its own set of benefits and limitations.

Let’s explore them:

Benefits of Formal Education

Formal education provides a structured learning environment with a predetermined curriculum and qualified instructors.

Here are some of the advantages of formal education:

Structured Learning

Formal education offers a structured learning experience with a clear curriculum and learning objectives.

This structure provides a roadmap for students, ensuring that they acquire the necessary knowledge and skills within a specific timeframe.

The structured nature of formal education can be beneficial for individuals who prefer a more guided learning experience.

Employment Opportunities

In many industries, a formal degree or qualification is still a requirement for securing certain job positions.

While the value of a degree is changing in some fields, many companies still consider a master’s degree or formal education as an essential criterion for employment.

Having a degree can open doors to expand job options and increase your chances of getting hired.

Access to Resources and Facilities

Universities and educational institutions often have access to state-of-the-art facilities, research resources, and specialized equipment.

A formal university education provides opportunities for hands-on learning, practical experience, and exposure to cutting-edge technology.

This access to resources can enhance the learning experience and offer a competitive edge in the job market.

Networking and Collaboration

Formal education offers opportunities for networking and collaboration with peers, professors, and industry professionals.

Making connections with people can help your future career.

It might help you find jobs, get advice from experienced people, and grow professionally.

Collaborative projects and group work in formal education can also enhance teamwork and communication skills.

Credentials and Recognition

Formal education provides documented proof of your qualifications and achievements, which can be valuable in the job market.

Employers often value degrees and certifications as a measure of competence and dedication.

Formal education can provide a sense of validation and recognition for your skills and knowledge.

Limitations of Formal Education

While formal education offers many advantages, it also has limitations that should be considered:

Lack of Flexibility

Formal education follows a predetermined curriculum and timetable, leaving little room for customization or flexibility.

Students must adhere to the set schedule and complete the required courses, which may not align with their individual learning preferences or goals.

This lack of flexibility can be a problem for people who like learning in their own way.

High Costs

Formal education can be expensive, with tuition fees, textbooks, and other expenses adding up.

The cost of obtaining a degree or qualification can be a vital barrier for many individuals, limiting their access to higher education.

The financial burden of formal education can also lead to student debt, which can take years to repay.

Focus on Theory over Practical Skills

Formal education often places more emphasis on theoretical knowledge rather than practical skills.

While theoretical knowledge is important, many employers value practical, hands-on experience and skills that can be directly applied in the workplace.

The gap between theory and practice in formal education can sometimes hinder graduates’ ability to transition smoothly into the workforce.

Limited Scope and Outdated Content

Formal education can sometimes have a limited scope, focusing on specific subjects and neglecting interdisciplinary or emerging fields.

The curriculum and content may also become outdated, as educational institutions may struggle to keep pace with rapidly evolving industries and technologies.

This can lead to a situation where the skills learned in school don’t match what employers are looking for in the real market.

Comparing the Skills and Knowledge Gained Through Self-Learning and Formal Education

Web Designers Comparing Skills & Knowlede

Both self-learning and formal education can offer valuable skills and knowledge in web design.

Self-learning allows individuals to focus on specific areas of interest and develop specialized skills.

It encourages self-motivation, independence, and problem-solving abilities.

On the other hand, formal education provides a structured curriculum, guidance from experienced instructors, and opportunities for hands-on learning.

It offers networking opportunities and access to industry connections, as well as a comprehensive understanding of web design principles and practices.

The choice between self-learning and formal education ultimately depends on the individual’s learning style, goals, and circumstances.

Some people who want to be designers do really well when they can learn on their own at their own speed.

But, some might like having a more structured way to learn in a formal education program.

It’s also a good idea to think about doing a bit of both because they can work together and give you a complete education.

The importance of practical experience in web design

Practical Experience in Web Design

Whether one chooses self-learning or formal education, practical experience is crucial for a successful career in web design.

Practical experience allows aspiring designers to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios, develop problem-solving skills, and build a portfolio of work.

It shows what they can do to employers and helps them stand out in job competition.

There are several ways to gain practical experience in web design.

One approach is to seek out freelance or internship opportunities.

These opportunities allow designers to work on real projects and collaborate with clients or teams.

Another option is to work on personal projects or contribute to open-source projects.

Aspiring designers can showcase their skills and creativity by taking on these projects while gaining valuable experience.

Furthermore, aspiring designers should stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and technologies.

Web design is always changing, so designers have to keep learning new things to stay competitive.

This can be done through self-learning, attending workshops or conferences, participating in online communities, and following industry blogs and publications.

What You Will Need to Learn

Learning as a Web Designer

If you want to have a job in web design and development, you need to learn important skills and knowledge.

Here are the fundamentals of web pages that you need to learn, along with recommended resources:

Design Principles:

Understanding the core principles that make a design effective is crucial.

This includes grasping concepts such as web design fundamentals such as layout, color theory, typography, and visual hierarchy.

HTML and CSS: Even if you primarily focus on the visual aspects of design, having a grasp of HTML and CSS is invaluable.

These languages form the foundation of web development and can aid you in making design decisions.

Designing directly in the browser has become common, so coding skills are essential.

  • HTML Tutorials: Start with a beginner tutorial series for HTML.
  • CSS Tutorials: Explore resources like W3Schools’ CSS beginner tutorial series.


Designing your own website for aesthetics alone is insufficient.

You should also prioritize usability to ensure a positive user experience.

Learn how to create websites that are functional and user-friendly.

Adobe Software:

Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are industry-standard tools.

Familiarize yourself with these programs to create and edit graphics and images effectively.

Resources for self-learning web design

Self Learning Web Design

For those interested in self-learning web design, many resources are available online.

Here are a few reputable websites and platforms that offer tutorials, courses, and resources on web accessibility for aspiring designers:


Codecademy offers interactive coding tutorials for various programming languages, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

It is a great resource for beginners looking to learn the fundamentals of web development.


Udemy is an online learning platform where you can take online classes to learn about web design.

They have courses for all skill levels, from beginners to experts.

You can learn about things like making websites that work on different devices, making them user-friendly, and creating the front part of websites.


Treehouse provides a comprehensive library of video courses on web design and development.

Their courses cover HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more topics.

Treehouse also offers a learning track specifically tailored for aspiring web designers.

Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine is a well-liked website providing articles, tutorials, and web design and development tools.

It talks about many things, from design principles to responsive web design techniques.

These resources are just a starting point, and aspiring designers should explore additional platforms and websites that align with their learning and research skills and goals.

Choosing The Right Formal Education Program For Web Design

most web designers choose self learning process

Choosing the right college degree program that aligns with their goals and circumstances is important for those considering formal education in web design.

Here are a few factors to consider when selecting a formal education program:

  • Accreditation – Make sure the program you’re considering has approval from a respected group.This approval means the program is up to a certain quality standard and is recognized by employers and experts in the field.
  • Curriculum – Review the curriculum and course offerings to ensure that they cover a broad range of relevant topics. Look for programs that strongly emphasize current industry practices and technologies.
  • Instructors – Research the qualifications and experience of the instructors. Experienced instructors with industry knowledge can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the program.
  • Networking Opportunities – Consider the networking opportunities provided by the program. Look for programs that offer internships, industry partnerships, and alumni networks, as these can greatly enhance career prospects.
  • Cost and Duration – Evaluate the cost and duration of the program. Consider your financial situation and the time commitment required for the program. Choosing a program that is affordable and feasible in terms of time is important.

Finding the Right Path for Your Web Design Education

Web Design Education

In conclusion, both self-learning and formal education offer unique advantages and drawbacks for aspiring web designers.

Self-learning provides flexibility customization, and encourages self-motivation.

Formal education offers structure, guidance, practical experience, and networking opportunities.

Ultimately, the choice between self-learning and formal education depends on the individual’s learning style, goals, and circumstances.

Combining both approaches can result in a well-rounded education that equips designers with the technical skills and industry knowledge vital for a successful career in web design.

No matter how you learn, it’s important to get real-world experience, keep up with what’s happening in the industry, and always get better at your skills to do well in a web design career.

Written By:
Picture of Brody Quail

Brody Quail

Maven Marketing Group

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