5 Design Related Skills Every Designer Must Master

5 Design Related Skills Every Designer Must Master 

In my last post, I wrote about the 5 Business Skills Every Designer Must Master. In this post, I’d like to discuss the design related skills needed to excel in a career as a graphic designer. The 5 design related skills every designer must master are:

1. Layout
2. Typography
3. Creativity / Strategy
4. Software
5. Constant Learning

Let’s take a closer look.

1. Layout

Any sound understanding of the fundamentals graphic design starts with layout. In its simplest form, layout, or page layout, is the arrangement of visual elements in a given space whether on a printed page, a webpage, or another medium. Layout involves 6 core principles of composition to achieve specific communication objectives. These principles are balance, proximity, alignment, symmetry, repetition, contrast, and white space. Knowing when and how to use each principle to their maximum effect takes time, energy, and knowledge. Each with its own nuances.

2. Typography

Comic Sans, Papyrus, Courier, Cooper Black, and Arial. The list of fonts to avoid could go on for a while. But those are the major offenders. And choosing the right font can make or break your piece. Some fonts are made for headlines, others more for body copy. And some are meant for print, whereas others have been designing strictly for the web. Your choice of how to display your text doesn’t end with the selection of a font. In fact, you’ve only completed step one. Next comes the manipulation of the font through kerning, leading, and the like. Understanding how fonts change the feeling of a project and how to choose the right font and weight will go a long way in design success.

3. Creativity / Strategy

Many would argue that creativity and strategic thought should be first on this list. And while they would be correct in that assessment, I would argue that without knowledge of the fundamentals of layout and type, you can only go so far. Your approach to the stated design problem may be novel and innovative, but if you can’t put it on paper and keep people’s eyes on it, it’s a waste of talent. Creativity is a skill and without proper attention will fall to the wayside.

4. Software

You can be the best designer, but if you can’t or don’t know how to use today’s tools to achieve and display your work then you’re missing out. As a designer, you need to master various forms of technology and have a large tech stack. First and foremost, you need to be comfortable in any of the Adobe products: Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and xD. And the non-Adobe programs like Sketch, Invision, Mailchimp, Hubspot, and Marketo. It also helps to be fluent in html and css whether in a text edit program like Sublime or Notepad or one of the main three CMSs: WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

5. Constant Learning

The world moves fast. Your competitors move fast. And it’s your job to stay relevant by constantly keeping your skills sharp. You should be pushing the limits of your ability every day. Many companies provide benefits for continuing your education. That’s free money for you to learn. Use it! Add another skill to your tech stack. And to your resume. And remember, if you’re not moving forward you’re standing still.

Conclusion:

It’s nobody’s job but yours to keep improving and continuously learn new skills. Do you want to be the best possible designer you can be? If so, mastering the above skills will keep you on top of your game as a designer. You’ve chosen this life, this career. Enjoy the process, refine your process, and remember to have fun. And be the best possible designer you can be.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash