My Website Designer Journey

Penny Badowska of Green Ginger Design

When I was at school and was asked what I wanted to be, I said an architect. (Website Designer didn’t exist….)

I loved buildings – so it seemed the obvious thing. But no. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn’t good enough at art to do art A Level, and therefore that couldn’t happen.  So there.

I therefore did A levels that other people suggested I should do, rather than the ones I wanted to do. Economic History at university? Ok. Not my passion, but three years of pleasurable learning – and Bristol was a great city to spend three years. I went on to do an MA in Art History – it seemed the nearest way to get to work within the art world. I loved learning about art and artists, even if it wasn’t creative for me. (My creative urges were being partially satisfied with knitting and pottery….)

Time to get to work…

My first proper job was within publishing, where I hoped to go into editing books about art. But the temptation to travel the world a little was too much to resist. By the time we came back, the publishing industry had imploded – digitalisation had taken place, and jobs were few and far between. With time on my hands, I volunteered with Friends of the Earth, and discovered that fundraising was very rewarding, and surprisingly creative.  I worked for a couple of other charities – it was transferrable work when we moved out of London, and I could work part time with young children.

When my younger son was preparing to go to school, my employer assumed I would go full time. But that wasn’t for me – although I had enjoyed fundraising initially, I couldn’t see myself pursing it as a long-term career. Then one of those golden moments happened.  A friend asked me: “What would you like to be?”. Twenty years on, the answer was still the same: an architect. That afternoon, I got online and on the phone to find out how and where I could really start pursuing my dream.


Four years later, I had completed an Access Course, which gave me an all-important portfolio and was a joy from start to finish, and then Part 1 of my Architecture qualification. At last my creativity was being channelled – models, models and more models.

Architectural models for blog about journey to Website Designer

The rhythm of family life meant taking a year’s break from studying. I had intended to return to study Part II, but, six months in, was given an irresistible commission to design a studio for an artist. Studying was replaced by real life experience. Irresistible – if a steep learning curve at times! I won a National Brick Award for an eco-house I designed, which verified the journey I had been on so far. After several years of working for myself, another fork in the road appeared. Do I return to university to study more architecture, or carry on working for myself?

My Lightbulb Moment

While umming and ahhing about this, I chanced upon website design. A charity I worked with needed a new website, so I started investigating different providers. I fell in love with the beautiful designs on Squarespace. But before long I wanted to do more than was on offer. The lightbulb moment came when I discovered Inspect Element – revealing all the magic of code behind a site. “Love at first Site” (sorry).  I knew I wanted to be not just a Website Designer, but a Website Designer and Coder.  I immediately started learning code – HTML, CSS, Javascript, JQuery, all the necessary tools of being a website, and have been learning ever since.

And so here I am – a fully-fledged Website Designer and Coder! I apply all the intensive design learning of architecture to websites. I apply my love of structure and systems to code sites that not only look beautiful, but work too – check out some of my designs here. And if you’d like to discuss a website with me, get in touch.

Penny Badowska - website designer at Green Ginger Design

How long has it taken you to find the right career for you? I’d love to know in the comments below.