Evaluating Web Design Education: What is the Best Way to Learn?


The world is changing rapidly. Just when we were just getting used to seeing websites came mobile phones, now screens have gone into our eyeglasses. With the web design world changing almost every day, it’s almost daunting to think how one learns web design.

Of course, when it comes to learning, there are a lot of avenues to choose from, and sometimes it’s not a matter of availability of such avenues (or the lack of them) but one’s desire to learn

But what is the best way to learn web design?

In this article, we will delve into the more popular ways on how one learns the art of designing websites. We will try to note the advantages and disadvantage of each method of learning and hopefully, come up with an end result.




Since the boom of the internet, more and more information technology and computer-related jobs have become more prevalent. And with the rise of such demand of manpower, calls for a lot of students. That is why more universities have funded the propagation of design-related programs.

Although contrary to the common thought, universities offer benefits for web designers. If a student chooses to enter the university, he will have to study the basics of web design. He will learn from teachers the fundamentals of color, type, composition, and maybe, a few coding languages.

With this, and with the help of projects and tight deadlines, students are conditioned to work under pressure without sacrificing the quality of work. This is somehow a foreshadowing of what the real word looks like, and when the time comes where clients are dealt with and workloads go heavy, it becomes a bitter but fruitful brunt.

In addition, universities are filled with professors that can mentor, critique or appreciate your work. This becomes an advantage because you’re allowed to make bigger mistakes with lesser the cost because you can tweak your style and methods without sacrificing potential clients.


While the security that houses its students into the four walls of a classroom is a main selling point of universities offering design courses, it also becomes its greatest disadvantage.

With the explosion of online courses, and as the Internet becomes a staple of human culture and living, web design school are slowly fading into irrelevance.

These days, the papers and documents presented by universities are becoming a thing of the past (with web design, at least). Today, diplomas aren’t the golden eggs of the world. Paper proving that you’ve studied enough hours to become an expert in something aren’t instant employment passes anymore. According to Adecco, a job placement agency, almost six of 10 college graduates from the United States are underemployed, meaning they aren’t full time position holders in their professions.

Nowadays, especially in web design, employment decisions are usually based on interviews and previous work, and diplomas aren’t even a factor.

Aside from that, the world of web design isn’t something you can’t confine in walls anymore. It’s changing rapidly that universities don’t catch up anymore.

Online Courses

Online Courses


I started learning web design a few months after I graduated from college. Afraid that I might not be able to afford the high tuition, I thought of alternative solutions to increase my knowledge. And seeking the help of online courses, I pretty much got what I want.

I am not the first person to find such enlightenment from online education. Before me were a myriad of curious minds seeking the same thing. Online education made every learning opportunity reachable by anyone anytime.

This is what makes learning from the internet phenomenal.

The reach and availability of the material extends into an unimaginable rate. Now, everybody can learn about HTML and CSS without even leaving their seats. And this gives opportunities to people who want to learn and make a name for themselves.

Also, it becomes more practical to learn via the Internet. Compared to universities who charge for loans, living expenses, lodging, and, at times, books, online education goes easier and smoother. Now, tell me, would you pay for a ridiculously high expenses when you have cheaper ones and still are as useful?


Like many things in the world, learning web design online presents some evil too. In many cases, learning web design through the internet becomes a one-way system. Although there are richer communities that offer help, often, you’ll not get what you are looking for because it lacks a human element.

Often, people who have shifted into web design finds it confusing because there is so much available resource and there are many ways to funnel them. And the differences of style, approach, and opinion usually caused by differing views by different experts often lead to confusion, and, in the long run disappointment.

Unlike in universities, it is easy to seek for help and opinion because your teachers can readily give that. You can have a mentor who can teach you all the tricks without suffering confusion, and if there are things you want to tweak with your own views, you can easily do that because you were already laid down with the basics.

Moreover, because of the freedom in pace web design courses online offer, it becomes difficult to find that pace. Sometimes, one overloads his mind with information thus stressing him, and at times the pace is too complacent, thus leading to procrastination.

What makes this a lot more difficult is that a good pace is difficult to find. Although universities, especially professors, sometimes force their own pace to the students, it becomes an advantage because what they teach is fairly the average and more universal methods.

The Choice: Which is Better?

Weighing the two main avenues of learning web design, I personally think that online courses tend to be better than universities in terms of teaching design.

Noting the fact that web design is a fast-evolving branch of knowledge and art, confining yourself in the four walls of the classroom for long periods of time becomes counterproductive. Everyday, new and newer styles are developed and are continually emerging. That is why, for a web designer, updating what you know is important.

If web design universities could only catchup to the quick change of style and opinions in design, it might be a more difficult choice. However, because of the structured pace of conventional learning, it becomes close to impossible.

One more giant advantage online learning has over the conventional one is that it is relatively cheap and faster to finish. Schools often bury you into debt but enrolling in web design courses online will cause you a few hundred bucks or more but you can study any time you would want to.

This goes well for people who are planning to switch jobs but are not yet ready to find greener pasture. They can easily study at any time of the day, where unlike in universities you are following the schedule of a professor just so you can learn.

Think of this, if knowledge is an investment and your profit or gain is all the same, would you choose to spend more hours, more money and more effort? Or would you choose the easier route?


  1. Jash Apr 16, 9:16 pm

    Online courses for sure. The amount of UP TO DATE and FREE resources and information online is mind blowing.

  2. Kealia Apr 17, 2:16 am

    I’m studying webdesign AND following online courses when I have the time. Why should I refuse to go to a webdesign school, just because online learning is better ?
    Webdesign is what I want to do in life so I chose webdesign for my studies. Hopefully I know how to use the internet so I can in addition follow the so-called “best way of learning” online. I don’t get the point of doing such comparisons because anyone who really wants to get into webdesign won’t most of the time do exclusively one of the both methods.
    Well, I don’t intend to be agressive or whatever but I’m bored to see people claiming “Learn online, don’t go to university !”. The message should be “You can totally go to university and it will definetly be a plus for you, but don’t forget to increase your knowledge with tutorials and online courses”, or in the contrary “Online learning is great and you should definetly learn this way, but you should go to university too because it has tons of advantages”. I believe both methods are complementary and there are only advantages in completing your university formation with online courses. Or you online formation with university courses.

    PS : I’m not living in the USA, so I don’t really know how university works there. Here in France, you can study in public formations costing nothing but €230 (like $260) a year, so the price of studying isn’t a real problem.

    • Jesse Nichols Apr 21, 7:02 pm

      I can help fill you in Kealia. Here in the USA, college is mind-bogglingly expensive! The average four-year degree at a public college is around $40,000! If you go to a private college, make that $135,000!

      There are some degrees that require college (doctors, lawyers, etc.) and that is part of entering into that profession. However, in the USA, it would be unwise (in my personal opinion) to spend $50K+ on an education that you can receive for a couple hundred bucks (or even for FREE).

      I chose not to go to college. A lot of people think that online learning/classes means you get to skip all of the mind-numbing hard work from college. WRONG! I worked my butt off and studied web development concepts and languages for 20+ hours per week while I was working another job. I built up a portfolio and did lots of free work!

      Now, I am comfortably employed. I have a great job with great pay and benefits and a lucrative side business. But even better than that, I have no college debt! I don’t know too many people my age (25) who have a career and ZERO debt.

      • Kealia Apr 21, 10:18 pm

        That’s indeed mind-blowingly expensive and therefore I totally understand your choice.
        I guess I’m lucky to be able to learn webdesign at university without getting myself into debts. Of course we have private formations but they’re most of the time even cheaper than public ones in the USA.

        • Jesse Nichols Apr 21, 10:35 pm

          Indeed. The American tertiary education system is in desperate need of reform due to rising tuition costs that have outstripped inflation annually for the past 30 years. If it was affordable, I would definitely see university as a fitting option. However, the American post-secondary system has become outrageously expensive.

  3. Tim Holmes Apr 22, 1:32 pm

    I am from the UK and attended University to undertake a degree in then MultiMedia design which covered both the design and code aspects for designing websites back in 2004.

    It has stood me in good stead and qualifications are still very much the forefront of an employers wish list.

    However, and it is a big however. I personally would much rather as a now Team leader choose someone with real world experience of building a site and is upto date with the latest trends in web tech than a university graduate. It may be just me, but I was let down by my physically attended university because the curriculum was already out of date by the time I had gained my degree. I was months and months of development time behind people who just got down and dirty building and designing sites.

    I do hope times may have changed and phyically attended courses are more frequently reviewed, but I do feel online courses with up to date content and simply building sites and developing a great portfolio can get you further. Not to mention save you thousands of £££ or $$$.

  4. Jason G. May 13, 5:45 pm

    I would say there are definitely advantages to both going to school and learning online. I have mostly studied web design and WordPress online. The flexibility is fantastic! You can study when you like, build sites / complete project work when you want. However, you do miss out on the human side of working with others. It can be harder to really network, though social media does help. I think you have to choose what works best for you. Maybe a mixture of both would work well for many.

  5. Kristine May 16, 5:26 am

    I signed up for an online bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design (Web) AND learning at the same time through online courses (Treehouse, LevelUpTuts, etc). Almost all the good paying jobs I find online require a degree.

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