Upgrade your design skills in 2018

HTML tags

The HTML cheat sheet will help you learn some valuable coding basics

You're a graphic designer, so you don't need to worry about web design, right? Wrong. It's an increasingly important skill for designers – and it can be the thing that sets you apart when you're competing with other designers for a job. 

"You can find jobs as a graphic designer if you don't know how to code, but I still think it's a crucial skill for designers – maybe even more than ever before," says freelance graphic and web designer Mirko Humbert.

Don't panic, you don't need to be a fully fledged programmer, "but you do have to be 'code-literate' to do anything related to building websites or apps," says Humbert. "This is what will help you land a job, or new projects if you are a freelancer."

01. Start with free resources

There are plenty of resources to get you started. Creative director Matt Rice of London studio Sennep recommends Codecademy. "It a great place to start for beginners and the lessons are free," he explains. CodePen is another good place to start experimenting. "It's a good resource for inspiration in terms of more playful things you can do with code," Rice adds.

02. Study the masters

That was more or less how Rice originally approached coding. "I took people's cool experiments, looked at the code and tried to work out how they were done, or a least manipulate them to create something myself," he explains.

03. Learn by doing

Coding is largely a question of learning by doing, Humbert believes. "Build real-life projects that give you results you can share in your portfolio," he advises. "For example, you can try to build a WordPress plugin that you can then share with the community, and get some feedback from an experienced developer."

04. Read up

Illustration shows metallic object being welded

Illustration by Flavio Montiel

Next page: Learn prototyping and UX skills

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.