The last few years have drastically changed the way designers work. While the rise of remote work has made it easier for designers to find work and clients from all over, the increase of people working from their homes also means that competition is now steeper than ever.
Luckily, graphic design, web design and UX design is here to stay. Just about every business is looking to hire a designer for projects ranging from designing brochures and business cards to a complete overhaul of their website.
And as more and more industries continue to mature, changing technologies and trends mean that the work is ever-evolving and never stale. But as we enter the second half of 2021, it’s good to step back and reflect on your current designers skillsets and direction moving forward.
Are you currently in a slump? Up-to-date with designers skillsets? Or are you not quite sure what areas you can develop?
Here at SKT Themes, we’ve outlined the eight best designers skillsets that will help you thrive in today’s fast-paced markets and keep up with the competition.
As consumers clamor for companies to follow a more honest and relatable approach in the content they push, it’s only natural that graphic illustrations helps to shine its spotlight on it.
A far cry from the perfect lines and shapes that vector art has popularized in the last few years, illustration features hand-drawn elements that don’t omit natural imperfections like uneven lines, crooked shapes, and brush flourishes.
Today, it’s common to see brands pushing this type of design everywhere, whether for advertisements, landing pages, or personalized icons. And it’s easy to see why it’s such a hit, as the style adds a human-like personality to every image.
If you’re new to drawing, then you might find yourself struggling with this skill. Luckily, consistent practice and taking inspiration from real life will significantly help your progress.
However, don’t aim for realism and instead focus on every line and curve you make before applying the same principles to your next web or UI design.
Often, we reflect on the power of the written word, but rarely do we consider what process a designer has to go through to emulate the tone of the word or sentence we’re digesting.
This is where excellent typography skills come into the picture. With consumers constantly reading written words on their phones, books, and websites, the ability to make written language legible and visually appealing is more critical than ever.
These days, pretty much every font imaginable is available online for anyone to use, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
That being said, taking the extra step to train yourself in how fonts are made and utilized will help you come out the other end as a better designer capable of capturing emotion and specific messages through the most simple text.
They say that the future of advertisement is video, and one apparent reason behind this is movement. When appropriately utilized, movement can engage a consumer in more ways than one.
It can hold their attention, keep them interested, and captivate their imagination. And in a fast-paced digital world where brands are constantly vying for a second of your attention, being able to capture your consumers means everything.
When starting, however, remember that you don’t always have to go on making full-blown videos. While upskilling in this area, consider using tools like Final Cut Pro, Cinema 4D, and Adobe After Effects to experiment with smaller projects like GIFs, animated logos, or social media content.
In many cases, knowing how to use color grading tools to add depth to your animations will take you several steps ahead.
There’s no shortage to its application as well, with an increasing number of brands looking for animation-savvy graphic designers that can bring their copy to life, whether it’s for an email marketing campaign or social media post.
Digital billboards and in-store digital screens are also markets you can tap, making the designers skillsets more relevant than ever.
Coding and UI Design
These days, website and UI creation services offer drag and drop tools are aplenty, and the demand isn’t going away anytime soon.
However, setting aside some time to polish your coding knowledge will help you stand out among the rest. Not only will this help you make more informed designing decisions, but it will also give you more freedom in the type of output you can make and deliver.
In turn, you can significantly increase your value as a designer while simultaneously expanding the field of clients you can work with.
If you want to start with basic coding skills, it’s a good idea to learn HTML/XHTML, primarily if you work with WordPress. Once you’re ready to tackle more web design-like functions, you can move on to CSS.
Regardless, learning the fundamentals of coding tools like Java and C++ will make you more marketable in clients’ eyes.
It should go without saying, but a good graphic designer should always have strong image-editing skills in their arsenal. While illustration and motion design are both on the rise, photos remain the primary medium for visual communication in many fields.
So as a designer, you must be at least sufficiently designers skillsets in using programs like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.
The more knowledgeable you are in these programs, the better your image manipulation and enhancement skills will be. When combined with other areas like typography, it can make for really excellent and eye-catching output.
Usually, beginners take online courses to learn the fundamentals of image-editing. But while they are effective, experience is often the best teacher, so don’t be afraid to learn through trial-and-error. You can also learn photography and combine that discipline with your design work.
Once you’re confident enough with your skills, you can use these to expand the services you offer and implement its elements and principles in your design work.
This may come as a surprise, but learning effective communication as a soft skill is just as crucial as being proficient in various technical skills, especially as a designer.
While often understated, communication is at the core of every good typography and design choice, and understanding how to use it will benefit your work.
Communication skills is the basic designers skillsets are also helpful when it comes to clients and collaborators. Having a good portfolio is one thing, but communicating your ideas and your approach is another.
Good communication skills will also come in handy if your clients ask for a visual presentation, which is expected if you work with large corporate companies.
Communication skills are also essential in everyday work and will help you earn the trust of your clients and the people you work with. Never underestimate the power of listening well, process feedback, and explain design elements without being overly technical.
Besides learning how to communicate well, another essential soft skill you can learn as a designer is collaboration. While it’s entirely possible to create a solo career in graphic design, being open to cooperation with larger teams will open you up to more opportunities.
Furthermore, collaboration is no longer limited to other designers, as working with engineers, copywriters, programmers, advertisers, and marketing teams is nothing but beneficial.
Not only will you learn other tools of the trade, but you will also end up surrounding yourself with highly creative people who can push, inspire, and encourage you.
Plus, learning how to collaborate well with people from other disciplines will help you become more open-minded, which is a trait clients now look for when looking for designers.
After all, there’s no reason for a client to hire a designer who doesn’t know to compromise or adjust simply because it doesn’t fit their preferences.
Collaboration makes you more sociable, opens you up to new ideas and unique perspectives, and increases your network, which is highly important if you’re working as an independent designer.
When it comes to brand anatomy, a designer should be aware of five things: the brief, the idea, the strategy, the value, and the identity. As a designer, you must always take these into account to pinpoint what makes a brand special and bring it to life.
Does it need good typography? Should you focus on illustration and photography? How does the brand messaging feel when you use a particular set of colors? Does the layout fit the company identity?
Experiment with ideas, but make sure the final output is consistent in both tone and voice. Once you can pinpoint these down, you can create the perfect design to bring a client’s brand to life.
Find the Right Clients
The web is massive and filled with designers like you, all looking for clients and ways to outdo each other. As such, the least you can do is to make it easy for people to find you.
Whether you’re a beginning designer or already have a solid portfolio to back up your brand, there are a number of sites to market your work and find your next client.