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20 Best Web Design Courses Online in 2020 (Free and Paid)

Between dozens of learning platforms, hundreds of blogs, and YouTube, there’s an endless amount of web design courses and learning materials available online.

But it’s not all of the same quality. If you start in the wrong place, you’ll end up wasting your time and money.

We’ve scoured the web for the very best, and most up-to-date web design courses, both free and paid, and compiled a shortlist of the best options.

So if commuting to the office every morning and suffering through the afternoon rush on the way home every day isn’t your thing, keep reading.

We’ll cover all the courses you need to kickstart your new career as a web designer.

What Qualifications Are Needed to Be a Web Designer?

In web design, traditional hard qualifications like university degrees don’t carry as much weight as in other industries.

It’s a rapidly changing industry, so a 10-year old degree doesn’t mean you’re a great web designer today.

Instead, web designers are typically judged by their catalog of recent work showcased through their portfolio site.

And it’s not just the previous projects in your portfolio that help highlight your skills.

You can convince potential clients you have the necessary design and development skills with the site itself.

To get inspired by real portfolio sites using cutting-edge elements of frontend design and development, you can examine previous award-winning projects on Awwwards.

awwwards portfolio sites

Awwwards portfolio sites

Look at how each designer uses typography, white space, animations, icons, and other design elements to put their best foot forward.

You can also find inspiration in other creative communities like Dribble or Behance.

Master Necessary Tools and Soft Skills for Success

There are also a number of tools that you need to master, and soft skills that will make or break your career as a web designer.

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the tools you might use.

  • Basic illustration and photo editing tools: Illustrator, Photoshop, Sketch, or GIMP.
  • Interaction design tools: Adobe XD or Invision Studio.
  • Local dev environment (if you develop prototypes or work with a CMS): DesktopServer, XAMPP, etc. (Learn how to install WordPress locally for testing new designs.)

There are also a number of popular frameworks and CSS that can help you stand out.

  • Animation kits: Animate.css, Bounce.js, and more.
  • jQuery libraries and plugins: Lazy load, parallax scrolling, and more.
  • Familiarity with Bootstrap, React, and other popular frameworks for frontend development is crucial.
  • Knowing WordPress and how to create a template can also be a key selling point for potential clients who work with the CMS.

You will also need a number of soft skills if you want to succeed.

  • An understanding of consumer psychology and human behavior on websites. Basic concepts include decision paralysis, the value of social proof, and color psychology.
  • As a freelancer, you need to learn how to price projects and use basic negotiation tactics.
  • You also need to learn how to create proposals and land a client. This is a valuable skill even within an agency or company setting.

 

20 Best Online Web Design Courses (Free vs Paid)

Below, we’re going to highlight some of the very best online web design courses, available both as free and paid resources.

To help you find what you’re looking for faster, we’ve separated them into the following categories.

Free Online Web Design Video Courses

If you prefer to learn through the video format, with someone guiding you through each new piece of code or technique, there are many free options available online.

1. WebFlow University: Ultimate Web Design Course

ultimate web design course

WebFlow University web design course

Ultimate Web Design Course is a free course offered by WebFlow university, an online learning platform hosted and developed by the CMS and design tool WebFlow.

It includes over 5 hours of video lessons and is a great introduction to all things web design.

Topics:

  • HTML & CSS basics
  • Web structure
  • Buttons
  • Typography
  • Media elements
  • Components
  • Styling basics
  • Layout basics
  • Advanced layouts
  • Responsive design
  • CMS & dynamic content
  • SEO

Length: 5 hours (of video)

Certificate: Not available

Pros:

  • Up-to-date cutting edge introduction to web design.
  • Easy to follow instructions.
  • Over 5 hours of video content (much longer actual learning if you go along).

Cons:

  • While a good crash course, it doesn’t give you the best foundational understanding of all the concepts.

2. BYOL: Beginner Web Design Using HTML5, CSS3 & Visual Studio Code

beginner web design html 5 css

Beginner web design course

Web designer and YouTuber Bring Your Own Laptop has created a free 4-hour course called Beginner Web Design using HTML5, CSS3 & Visual Studio Code.

The format is a single 4-hour video on YouTube, complete with a bundle of exercise files freely downloadable.

Throughout the course, you will learn how to create three different websites with increasing levels of complexity and difficulty, and finally, how to make your site responsive.

Topics:

  • HTML & CSS basics
  • Head and HTML tags
  • CSS classes
  • Web structure and div nesting
  • Media elements
  • External CSS
  • Testing your website
  • Styling basics
  • Layout basics
  • Advanced layouts
  • Responsive design
  • CMS & dynamic content
  • SEO

Length: 4 Hours (of video)

Certificate: Not available

Pros:

  • Entertaining and digestible instructions (most YouTube comments highlight how easy it is to follow along).
  • Almost 4 hours of video content available on YouTube for free, divided into sections for a better overview.

Cons:

  • Quite basic, to follow the complete course (16 hours) you need to sign up for a Bring Your Own Laptop membership for $12/month.

3. freeCodeCamp: Introduction To Responsive Web Design – HTML & CSS Tutorial

introduction to responsive web design html css

freeCodeCamp YouTube course

In 2019, freeCodeCamp released a 4-hour introductory course to responsive design on their YouTube channel.

The course will teach you how to create a single, 3-page responsive website, as well as the basics of responsive design, CSS, and HTML5.

Topics:

  • Responsive design basics
  • Mobile-first design
  • CSS units
  • Em vs px vs rems
  • Flexbox
  • CSS styles
  • Responsive containers
  • Media queries
  • Responsive navigation
  • Page structure
  • Widgets

Length: 4 Hours (of video)

Certificate: Not available

Pros:

  • Get a deeper understanding of how to create a proper responsive design with HTML and CSS in 2020.
  • Get to know important CSS units and advanced HTML tags.
  • Over 4-hours of neatly-divided video available for free (no signup) on YouTube.

Cons:

  • Limited foundational information beyond responsive design (good if you already know basic HTML and CSS).

4. OpenClassrooms Course: Build Your First Web Pages With HTML and CSS

openclassrooms build your first web pages course

OpenClassrooms introductory course

OpenClassrooms offer a free introductory course called Build Your First Web Pages with HTML and CSS.

It starts from the very beginning and will give you a great fundamental understanding of both HTML5 and CSS3. If you have no experience whatsoever with web development or design, this is a good place to start.

Topics:

  • HTML5 and CSS3 basics
  • HTML structure
  • CSS styling
  • Page structure and SEO
  • Image optimization
  • Block and inline elements
  • Color theory
  • Fonts (Make sure to check our guide on how to change fonts in WordPress)

Length: 10 hours

Certificate: Available (with a $20/month membership)

Pros:

  • Great introduction to web design, using the latest in HTML and CSS.
  • Collection of Codepen entries to highlight how different code works in the real world.
  • 10 hours of free learning, including interactive quizzes and video lessons.

Cons:

  • Stops at the very basic, giving you a limited, surface-level understanding of many different concepts.

Paid Online Web Design Video Courses

If you have the money to invest, there are also a number of high-quality paid courses on web design available online worth looking at. If you’re planning to make it a career, investing in your education should be a no-brainer.

5. Udemy Course: Web Design for Beginners: Real World Coding in HTML & CSS

web design for beginners

Udemy Web Design Course

Udemy is one of the most popular premium learning platforms online. There are courses available on everything from website design to freelancing and productivity.

But the best place to start is the Web Design for Beginners: Real World Coding in HTML & CSS online course.

Topics:

  • HTML layout and essentials
  • Media
  • Fonts and typography
  • Page structure
  • Navigation
  • Forms
  • CSS essentials
  • Backgrounds
  • Flexbox
  • CSS3 animations
  • JavaScript frameworks
  • Bootstrap

Length: 11 hours (of video)

Price: $16.99 (The $100+ price is a sales tactic)

Certificate: Available

Pros:

  • Well-structured introductory course that covers all the basics of responsive design in 2020.
  • Up-to-date information (last updated in July 2020).
  • Interact with a community and ask the course instructor questions.
  • One-time fee (rather than monthly payments).

Cons:

  • For a paid course, it’s not the most in-depth course available.

6. TreeHouse: Web Design Track

treehouse web design track

TreeHouse web design track

TreeHouse is a subscription-based online learning platform suitable for both designers and programmers. The web design track offers 43 hours of video and interactive lessons on HTML, CSS, layouts, and other web design basics.

It also includes basic skills for a budding graphic designer, like an SVG tutorial.

Topics:

  • HTML & CSS basics
  • Web design process
  • Advanced HTML forms
  • Tables
  • Typography
  • CSS layouts
  • Responsive design
  • Flexbox
  • Bootstrap 4
  • Wireframing
  • CSS animations
  • CSS grid layout

Length: 43 hours (of video)

Price:  $25/month for courses and $49/month for courses plus.

Certificate: Not available for tracks (only available for the $199/month Techdegree programs).

Pros:

  • Great in-depth introduction to web design with over forty hours of interactive learning.
  • An active community that you can interact with and learn from.
  • Set up a solid foundation with over 15 hours of learning on HTML and CSS basics alone.

Cons:

  • If you work a full-time job and have little free time, TreeHouse could become expensive if you keep delaying your study.

7. Frontend Masters: CSS Grids/Flexbox Course

front end masters css grids flexbox responsive design

FM – CSS Grid & Flexbox course

Frontend Masters is a great learning platform for beginners and intermediate web designers alike. This course will teach you exactly how to use modern CSS techniques to create a responsive layout for your website.

It will help you bridge the gap between a basic HTML wireframe designer and someone who can create functional prototypes and templates.

Topics:

  • Responsive design basics
  • CSS float
  • Flexbox basics and implementation
  • Responsive images
  • CSS grid basics and implementation

Length: 5+ hours (of video)

Price: $39/month

Certificate: Available

Pros:

  • Stellar video lessons from a top-class professional design educator.
  • Will teach you how modern responsive design works, which is a must even for wireframe and layout designers.
  • FM has other great courses to learn fundamental web design and development basics.

Cons:

  • As with other online courses, it can become a little expensive if you need more time (months add up quickly).

8. Skillcrush: Frontend Development Course

skillcrush front end development

Skillcrush – Frontend development course

Skillcrush offers an in-depth introductory course to frontend development, perfect for beginners. Its price and timeline mean it has more in common with some of the more standard MOOCs, but the structure is free format, and you can learn as fast as you want.

Topics:

  • HTML, CSS, and JS basics
  • Media queries and responsive design
  • Responsive images
  • Git & GitHub
  • Flexbox basics and implementation
  • jQuery

Length: 3 months (average time to completion )

Price: $549 one-time payment or $199/month for three months

Certificate: Available

Pros:

  • Great in-depth introduction to frontend development and web design as a whole.
  • Learn from example as you can watch how other students completed assignments.

Cons:

  • It’s a bit on the expensive side and the refund policy seems a bit weak.

9. Envato Tuts+: Responsive Web Design for Beginners

tutsplus responsive web design

Tuts+ – Responsive web design course

The Tuts+ responsive web design course for beginners is a quick introduction to the basics of responsive design, HTML, CSS, media queries, and more.

Alone it might not seem like the best paid choice, as it taps out at just over 3 hours. But Tuts+ premium includes 20+ courses on web design, from using specific software like Sketch or Adobe XD, to an in-depth course on web typography.

Topics:

  • HTML, CSS, and JS basics
  • Media queries and responsive design
  • Responsive images
  • Media queries
  • Grid layout

Length: 3 hours (video )

Price: $16.50/month

Certificate: N/a

Pros:

  • Learn how to use design software like Adobe XD and Sketch from other courses.
  • Learn cutting edge CSS & HTML tricks from dedicated courses.
  • Get access to millions of stock photos, web templates, and more with the same membership.

Cons:

  • Their introductory course itself is basic and slightly dated.

10. Paul Boag – Encouraging Clicks Masterclass

encouraging clicks course

Encouraging Clicks Masterclass

Paul Boag is a leading educator and author in the space of conversion optimization and UX design. He’s written multiple books on web and UX design for Smashing Magazine and is a recurring columnist for many leading web design publications.

His “Encouraging Clicks Masterclass” is an assisted video course where you get direct access to ask Paul himself throughout the course. You will learn the basics of designing websites that drive actions and conversions, without resorting to shady tricks or dark patterns.

Topics:

  • Basics of conversion optimization
  • Measuring the right metrics
  • Basic consumer psychology and how to take advantage of it with design choices
  • Creating better calls to action
  • A/B testing & ongoing optimization

Length: 4 hours and 30 minutes of video

Price: $267 one-time fee

Certificate: N/a

Pros:

  • Learn how to create designs that boost conversions for your clients.

Cons:

  • Only opens a few times per year.

Online University Web Design Programs & Degrees (MOOC)

Through massive online open courses (MOOC) platforms like Coursera, some universities offer their full web design curriculum online for free.

Not all courses are equal, however, so we’re only highlighting the cream of the crop.

11. Coursera: Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development & Coding Specialization

web design for everybody

Coursera U-M web design course

Web Design for Everybody by the University of Michigan is one of the most popular development courses on Coursera.

It covers the basics of HTML, CSS, and JS, as well as responsive web design and web accessibility.

If you don’t need or want the certification or credits, you can audit the course for free.

Topics:

  • Web development
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) basics
  • HTML5 basics
  • JavaScript basics
  • Responsive web design
  • Web accessibility
  • Document Object Model (DOM)
  • Bootstrap

Length: 70 hours of learning (including reviews and experiments).

Price: Free to audit course.

Certificate: $49/month membership required to get the certificate.

Pros:

  • Great for developing a solid foundation as a web designer, with over 30 hours of learning on HTML, JS, and CSS basics.
  • Interact with a thriving online community of other eager learners.
  • Complete reviews, experiments, and more to better internalize everything you learn.

Cons:

  • Few complaints about the learning material being sub-par (typos, errors in the quizzes, etc.)

12. EdX: W3CX Frontend Developer Program

w3cx course front end development

W3CX Frontend Web Developer program

The W3CX Frontend Developer Program from edX is perfect for absolute beginners who want to build solid fundamentals in all the core languages of frontend development.

Topics:

  • HTML, CSS, and JS basics
  • Advanced responsive design, CSS grid, and flexbox
  • Navigation
  • Modern HTML5 APIs like timed text track, and device orientation

Length: 140 hours of learning (including reviews and experiments).

Price:  Free to audit individual courses independently.

Certificate: $895.50 one-time fee required to get the certificate.

Pros:

  • Extremely in-depth information straight from the source (W3C).
  • Instructors are highly-qualified developers working at Microsoft.
  • Interactive with an active online community to get help and learn collectively.

Cons:

  • The latter half of the course is more focused on web application development.

13. Udacity: Frontend Development Nanodegree

udacity frontend developer nanodegree

Frontend dev nanodegree

The Udacity frontend web development nanodegree will teach you the fundamentals of HTML, CSS, and responsive web design, plus much more.

While not technically a university offering, the structure, format, educational depth, and price of a Udacity nanodegree are in line with standard MOOC programs.

Topics:

  • HTML, CSS, and JS basics
  • Advanced responsive design, CSS grid, and flexbox
  • Create a dynamic landing page for marketing content
  • Modern web APIs
  • Automate repetitive tasks with Webpack and other workflow tools

Length: 100+ hours of learning (including reviews and experiments).

Price:  $1356 one-time fee for 4-month access, or $399/month

Certificate: Available with the nanodegree price.

Pros:

  • Includes professional project and assignment reviews and feedback.
  • Interact with dedicated technical mentors.
  • Get real 1-on-1 advice from a personal career coach towards the end of the degree.

Cons:

  • Free learning is limited to a 7-day free trial.

14. Future Learn: User Experience (UX) Design and Research

Future Learn - UX Design course

Future Learn – UX Design course

The User Design and Research program from Future Learn and the University of Michigan is perfect for aspiring web designers who want to learn more about UX design.

Need blazing-fast, secure, and developer-friendly hosting for your client sites? Kinsta is built with WordPress developers in mind and provides plenty of tools and a powerful dashboard.

Topics:

  • Design heuristics
  • User experience research basics (UX interviews, survey protocols, data extraction)
  • Affinity walls
  • Design process & prototyping
  • Implementing data-driven UX design

Length: 88 hours of learning (including reviews and experiments).

Price:  Free to audit the individual courses

Certificate: $345 one-time fee required to get the certificate and lifetime access to each course.

Pros:

  • Great course to develop a better understanding of how users interact with websites and apps.
  • Can use the skills to offer more comprehensive services, beyond a basic website design.

Cons:

  • Not a course specifically tailored for web design.

15. OpenHPI: Human-Centered Design Course

open hpi human centered design

Human-centered design course

If you want to improve your design fundamentals, this course on human-centered design is a great place to start.

It can help you improve your ideation and research skills, giving you a stronger toolbox to work with as a web designer.

Topics:

  • Defining goals
  • Ideation
  • Synthesis

Length: 10-11 hours of learning (including reviews and experiments).

Price:  Free

Certificate: Basic certificate of completion available.

Pros:

  • Great course to quickly (in 10 hours) build your fundamental skill set as a designer.
  • Can use the concepts beyond the realms of web design.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t cover web design directly.

Interactive Web Design Courses

If you’re trying to learn more frontend development and hands-on coding than the graphic design elements, there are a number of interactive web design courses online.

16. Free: freeCodeCamp

freecodecamp responsive web design

freeCodeCamp web design certification

freeCodeCamp offers a mammoth course on responsive website design, with over 300 hours of learning available for free.

The interface, while a little drab, is intuitive and gamifies the experience of learning code.

To continue through the course, you must put every piece of new information into practice, which is great for retention.

Topics:

  • HTML5 and CSS3 basics
  • Responsive design
  • Flexbox
  • Web accessibility
  • Applied visual design

Length: 300+ hours of interactive lessons.

Price:  Free

Certificate: Available (free)

Pros:

  • Great foundational information.
  • Learn at your own pace.
  • Retain information better by instantly using every piece of code you learn.

Cons:

  • The learning interface isn’t the most appealing.

17. Free: W3Schools

w3 schools html interactive course

W3Schools homepage

W3Schools is one of the largest resources available for learning web development online.

It has hundreds of hours of tutorials and courses on the core languages and frameworks used to build the web.

The interface can be a bit clunky, but the incredible volume of high-quality free lessons make up for that. You don’t even need to sign up with your email to get started.

Topics:

  • HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3 basics
  • Canvas and SVG
  • Bootstrap
  • Graphics
  • Colors
  • Icons

Length: Hundreds of hours of interactive lessons.

Price:  Free

Certificate: Available (from $95 per language).

Pros:

  • Great foundational information on all languages.
  • Learn-as-you-go by browsing the massive catalog while building your first site.
  • No email signup required.

Cons:

  • The learning interface is not as smooth as other interactive courses.

18. Free: Codecademy

web design courses — Codecademy

Codecademy

Codecademy is an interactive learning platform for coders and web designers. It offers a few courses for free that will help you get started.

It has an awesome gamified interface that makes learning new code a breeze.

Unfortunately, the content in the free plan is quite limited, focusing only on the basic languages and creating a simple website.

Topics:

  • HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3 basics
  • How to create your first website

Length: 10-20 hours of interactive lessons.

Price:  basic courses free (paid version below)

Certificate: Not available

Pros:

  • Great learning interface.
  • Active and engaging community for learning.

Cons:

  • Free courses are very limited.

19. Paid version: Codecademy Pro

With Codecademy Pro, you get the platform and community included in the free plan, plus full access to all courses and the web development path.

You can also take shorter skill paths like learning how to build websites.

code academy skill path

CA – Build websites path

With the pro version, you get access to hundreds of hours of interactive lessons and a certificate at the end of courses.

Price:  $39.99/month ($19.99/month billed yearly).

20. Free: Dash by General Assembly

web design course — Dash by General Assembly

Dash by General Assembly

General Assembly is primarily a campus or in-person bootcamp-based educational company for designers and programmers.

But their free interactive online course Dash is a great way to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript basics, all while you are actively designing and creating your own website from scratch.

Topics:

  • HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript basics
  • HTML tags
  • Media queries and responsive design
  • Images and media
  • jQuery
  • Creating a basic interactive game with JS

Length: 10+ hours of interactive lessons

Price:  Free

Certificate: N/a

Pros:

  • Great foundational information on the languages of frontend development.
  • Retain information better by instantly using every concept and line of code you learn.

Cons:

  • Limited amount of information contained in the free course (paid options start at $3,950).

Web Design Business Courses vs Web Design with WordPress

WordPress’ current market share is +38% of all websites on the internet. As a result, there is almost as large a marketplace for WordPress sites and the related development skills, as general frontend developers.

Specializing in WordPress can help you get established and build your portfolio quickly. But you can’t just jump into it with basic web design skills.

Necessary Skills as a WordPress Designer/Developer

First off, you need the ability to edit/create WordPress themes. That means you need a clear understanding of how WordPress works, and WordPress development basics:

  • The Loop (the basic PHP function that displays WordPress posts and page content)
  • The Gutenberg block editor (and how the blocks are displayed on a live WP site)
  • WordPress template hierarchy (which page templates you need to edit and how to create child themes
  • CSS specificity (how to correctly tweak and override CSS)

You also need:

  • Mastery of HTML and CSS and web design fundamentals
  • A basic understanding of PHP
  • The ability to work with popular page builders (Elementor, Divi, etc.)
  • Familiarity with popular themes

 

Summary

From YouTube to paid and free learning platforms for coders, to online university courses, there’s something for everyone. Though not universal across the board, the information in free web design courses can be more dated than paid alternatives.

This is simply because the money from the members or students offers the budget for educators to update their curriculum and videos.

Paid web design courses also often give you the opportunity to interact with instructors, and not just other students.

There’s no need to waste time with a course or instructor you don’t vibe with. Pick the web design course that sounds right for your current level and your goals, and stick to it.

The perfect tools for training and developing your skills as a web designer are out there.

Now it’s your turn: did you take any course to improve your web design skills? How was your experience? Share it in the comments!

 

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