Take a moment to envision where you want to be in 2-5 years from today. Do you see yourself working at a Multinational Global firm, sitting at your grande table, sipping your favorite wine, playing your favorite song while pattering away at your powerful computer, drawing and building world-class designs?
Do you envision yourself running your own design firm, working with a progressive and vibrant team, partnering with major brands and top personalities in your society?
These dreams are 100% achievable with the right skills and application of course. As a designer, the possibilities are endless. This article lists the 6 skills you definitely need to achieve your desire of becoming a highly sought-after Designer.
First off, what does Design mean to you?
Many definitions by world-class designers and popular design bloggers concur to the definition that Design is a creative and innovative process of solving problems. Design isn’t a decorative ornament for businesses, it is a purpose driven process that encapsulates the functional and fascinating needs of the intended user.
Design is a problem-solving discipline. A good design is one that serve the purpose of its existence. Effective design should be able to answer these important questions:
Does it serve the purpose for which it was created?
Does it communicate a brand message?
Does it inform a user or educate them?
What else does it do asides from looking pretty?
How should it be perceived and welcomed by your target audience?
Whatever your ambitions are; whether to become a Graphics Designer, User Interface Designer (UI), User Experience Designer (UX), Interactive Designer, Architectural Designer or Industrial Designer, the principles guiding good design never changes. These words by Susan Onigbinde (CEO - DODO Design Agency) holds true in this regard that “DESIGN IS DESIGN IS DESIGN”.
These 6 Skills are responsible for shaping your future as a Designer:
Creative Problem-Solving Skill
Great designers are creative thinkers. Designers always think outside the imaginary box to creatively convey ideas through motion, text and image. Whatever you are tasked with, either it is promoting a company’s mission and vision through an online platform, website or mobile applications design, or designing an image to help sell a product, all of these require creativity, specifically creative problem-solving skills.
These are good ways you can boost your creativity:
Pay close attention to details.
Balance artistry with your user appeal, otherwise your designs just become decorations.
Sketch out your ideas.
Learn ways to visually represent your ideas.
Be a good listener
Good designers communicate ideas through visuals, text, image, narratives of information visualization through story telling or customer journey maps. Designers have to express their ideas and solutions to companies, clients, employers and team members every time. For this, you must learn to listen and carefully observe your client’s needs and convey persuasive solutions to their problems with your designs. You should be able to quickly and easily explain your ideas, concepts, solutions and frameworks, that way, your clients can build trust in you because of your ability to carry them along.
In this time and age, to be a highly skilled designer, you must have mastered the various forms of technology, necessary for your design projects. First off, you need to be very comfortable with design applications such as Adobe XD, InDesign, Sketch, Invision Studio and many others in that field
You should be able to list all the tools and technologies that will be relevant to the kind of Designer you want to be and take your time to master these tools. That way, you are more prepared when a juicy offer comes along.
Time Management Skills
Though relevant to every profession, this skill is needed to be a successful designer, you should be able to recognize what’s most important and focus on those. Don’t try to juggle too many projects at the same time, you will only end up making costly mistakes and lose valuable clients. When you manage you time well, it will be easier to meet your deadlines and submit impressive work. To manage time effectively is very critical, you need to be decisive as well as a critical thinker.
These are ways to effectively manage your time and yourself:
Set SMART Goals
Plan your time and get rid of unnecessary distractions
Know when to take up projects and when to decline.
“Today we are deluged with such an immense flood of printed matter that the value of the individual work has depreciated. It is the typographer’s task to divide up, then organize and interpret this mass of printed matter in such a way that the reader will have a good chance of finding what is of interest to him.”
- Emil Ruder (Swiss Typographer) explains.
This simply means that there’s too much to read and it is the job of the designer to divide and interpret this mass of data, so that people can easily find what is of interest to them.
Typography sparks powerful emotional responses; this is because 95% of what we see on screen is text-based. Each user perceives text differently. Typography has one goal and that is to convey information in writing.
Knowing how to create legible, well-designed type, either by creation or selection, is important in your journey to become a highly skilled designer. You need to be familiar with certain fonts and have a very good knowledge of line-height and negative spacing.
If you would like to dig deeper into Typography, check out Emil Ruder’s book: Typographie - A Manual of Design
Visual Presentation Skills
A picture is worth a thousand words. This quote is probably older than my grandfather, but still stands true today. A picture tells a story better and more powerfully than mere words. In this day of saturated online content, an image will no doubt convey an idea more quickly and effectively than the written word.
Learn more about creating captivating visual presentations here.
Some important rules to consider when choosing a visual presentation are:
Make sure it serves a purpose. What message will it send? Do users clearly or truly understand what that message is? How will it support and reinforce the content? Does it strengthen and deepen understanding, or interfere / distract from it?
Focus on people rather than things: We are wired to recognize and connect with fellow humans. You want people to see themselves using what you are promoting. Example, an image of someone using a product will always carry more resonance than an image of just that product.
Leverage on the power of illustration: It is easy to forget that illustration can be very much impactful than photography. Illustration can be more relevant and appropriate to the content; it can provide powerful emotional support.
There are many other skills you require to become a highly skilled designer. However, start with these 6 and see where they take you in your career, you will be amazed by your results.
Find design inspiration from:
Some design tools to get familiar with:
Invision and Invision studio etc.
I’ll leave you with this quote from MASSIMO VIGNELLI, “If you can design one thing, you can design everything.”
Design one thing today!
Jude Boise is a Web Developer at DODO Design Agency - A Branding, Design and Strategy Company based in Lagos, Nigeria. He has over 4 years of experience as a Web Designer. Follow him on Instagram @Kingpin_Jude.