I'm new to UX, and long story short, I"m not sure whether to focus my time on web design or UX in general. This is probably a stupid question but I hope it makes sense. I'm proficient with HTML and CSS but I haven't really started UX stuff and reading, taking courses online, etc. What should I focus my time on?
Your question is a great one! UX can be a confusing concept. User experience is about creating an overall experience that meets user needs. It involves understanding human behavior, attitude and emotions around a certain product ad/or service.
Some personal attributes of a UX designer include analytical thinking while being open minded, empathy for people and how they feel about services and products, knowledge of cognitive psychology, and the ability to visualize solutions.
The UX process includes a range of technical skills often divided between team members. However, a person may be responsible for multiple UX phases during a project, or even all UX phases depending on the situation.
The core roles on a UX team include a User Experience Researcher (user research and trends), UX Architect (UX planning and strategist), Interaction Designer (function level concepts), Visual Designer (GUI Designer), Information Architect and Information Design (Content Structure), Prototype Engineer (codes concepts), and Usability Engineer. uxmatters.com gives a great overview of the UX process and key roles.
If this sounds exciting (which it is!) than I suggest exploring UX design. There are some great resources to help you grow your interest. For instance, you can join a meetup group that focuses on Interaction Design or any of the other key roles.
I am a UX Designer of 16 years. I have a degree in Multimedia, but I recently went back to school for my bachelors in psychology because there is a preferred interest in hiring UX designers now with an understanding of cognitive psychology.
Good luck and I hoped my thoughts helped. Laura