Graphic Designer Career Growth: How to Be a Web Developer – My Story


how to be a web developer

Introduction: This is my personal story of how to be a web developer. I transform myself from a graphic designer to a web developer and designer (a.k.a. full-stack web developer). It is a long and difficult journey that requires much determination and self discipline. But the result is very fruitful. Read on to get inspiration on how to direct your own career growth in the design field.

A Little About Myself

Hi my name is Edward Chung. I studied Architecture in my university education. However, I knew at that time that graphic design is my passion and I would very much like to pursue a career in graphic design. After around 7 months of being an architectural assistant, I formally quitted my architecture career and headed towards graphic design with almost 50% cut in my salary.

I started out in a graphic design house specialized in educational and cultural design. There I trained my sense in aesthetics, typographic, color and photography. I was especially fascinated with editorial design that I would spend days and nights playing with the margin, font-face, font size, leading and structure for the perfect layout. I had the chance also to design the layout for a Chinese bible.

From a Graphic Designer

But the company got less and less work to do over the four years I was with them. Many clients replaced printed publications with websites, online publications or emails. This was the first time I sensed the power of the World Wide Web. As web development was still in its infancy at that time, my employer would get website design requests from time to time and I was tasked with overlooking the whole website project with my limited HTML knowledge gained during my university education.

As soon as I realized that the Web would soon rule and my graphic design career might be negatively affected, I decided to take a bold step to transform myself into a web developer. It’s a great idea for career growth, but “how to be a web developer”?

To a Web Developer and Designer

I registered for a domain and web hosting and built my very first website (unfortunately the site was hacked and all files delete, this is the second website I built). Of course, it was quite difficult for me to build the first website as I did not even know what domain names and hosting were, let alone the server side scripts like .htaccess required to make the site work.

The first website, Edward’s Online Graphic Portfolio, was built purely with with HTML and CSS only, without any server side script or interaction. It was okay in terms of design but lacked a lot of elements to make it a professional website. For example, I would need to edit tens of pages if I would like to add a section to the menu as each page was a separate HTML file.

So, as soon as I have hacked together the first website, I began the second version. This time I read through a number of javascript and PHP books in order to allow my website to look more professional and easier to maintain. I could create one PHP file for header (containing the menu) and one file for footer and include these in all the pages. If I need to add a section, it is just like adding a line of code in the header file only. Server-side script is your friend if you are serious about a web developer career.

How to Be a Web Developer for Graphic Designer?

Don’t be discouraged if you could not understand what I have talked about the scripting. Trust me, building your first website is not that difficult. The internet is a great place to learn for free. I searched and searched and searched when building my first site. I know the pains of not knowing where to start, so I have put together this simple guide to build your own website. In just 3 simple steps, anyone knowing how to use a mouse and browser will be able to build a working website in around an hour.

After you have began your first step (and hopefully have a beautifully working website of your own), you can get to learn more about (preferably in that sequence, I will be writing more about these on my blog):

  1. HTML and CSS
  2. Javascript
  3. WordPress and PHP
  4. Web Analytics
  5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing
  6. UX/UI Design
  7. Content Strategy and Marketing
  8. More

You are onto the road of being a Full-stack Web Developer! How to be a web developer from a graphic designer? Learn web development by developing your own website! That’s my own story for career growth from a graphic designer to a web developer and designer.

You can do the same too! With a lot of determination and hard work, you can transform into a web developer.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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2 Responses

  1. Fingerprint says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I do have a question however that I think you
    could probably answer. I was wondering, Can a web designer/developer use ‘free’ bootstrap templates to make a website/web app for a paying client?
    Or is it better to use a paid template? Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

    • Edward Chung says:

      Sure, I sometimes make use of free templates to begin with and tweak it to suit the requirements of particular clients. And if I can find some paid themes which are more or less similar to the website I am designing, I would buy it too with a view to save my time, which is in fact the most valuable.

      Wish you success in your endeavours!