Design is the hottest career these days. After the advent of Information Technology and the World Wide Web, Graphic Design became the evergreen field and the industry came across an unthinkable boom. It introduced a variety of new job roles like visual designer, user interface designer, and user experience designer.
These are the people who create impeccable designs for web apps and mobile apps we use on a daily basis. The website of the local restaurant or renowned social media like Facebook, all demonstrate the aesthetics and skills of their designers. He is the one who decides how they look like.
Computer software tools today have made it very easy to design. The trend of designing of non-tech products on a computer is common. For example book covers, medicine packing, and even clothes.
So we can conclude that design is crucial for both tech and non-tech industry. Therefore, it would be wise to ask that is to design everyone’s cup of tea. Yeah, there are many jobs out there and if you dive in you will get any. But what does it take to be a designer?
This question would be our point of discussion throughout the blog. There are certain things designers need to know to be successful. Apart from the skill set, there are particular personality traits that make the design journey easy, smooth and successful. We will focus on both aspects.
In short, we will discuss hard skills as well as soft skills every designer has to learn.
Design is a vast field and there are a plethora of job roles. However, we would more specifically talk about the hottest one. Web & Graphics Design.
Let us start from the 11 hard skills that can make you a perfect designer.
1. User Experience Design/UX Design
This is all about the way the user experiences your design. A good designer should be able to control or at least influence it. You have to think about user psychology when working. Merge the design conventions and patterns that are standard in the industry. What color can make the user click? The ultimate goal is to enhance usability.
2. User Interface Design/UI Design
UX design is an umbrella term as it also covers User Interface or UI Design. UI can be regarded as a subset of UX.
UI has no concern with the experience a user will have, once he clicks. It solely focuses on the look and feel of the design. UI also encompasses the influence of design on the functionality of the app.
In easy words, UX discusses the user’s feelings after a click. Whereas UI tries to influence a user’s thoughts before clicking.
3. Information Architecture
The content should be structured on the website to best benefit the user. This is known as Information Architecture.
How much information should be filled in each page? How to categorize the information in a user-friendly way? We typically figure out things like that when working on information architecture. We examine every aspect of the experience the user will have when going through the content.
4. Responsive Design
In the modern age, The transition of mobile internet users has exceeded that of desktop internet users. Screens of different mobile phones have different resolutions so it is vital for designs to adjust according to the variety of sizes. Web designers should have sound knowledge of how responsive designs work.
Always keep the limitations in your mind, to avoid the frustration of realizing that your design does not work on the intended device.
5. Regular Design Patterns
Many common design patterns prevail the World Wide Web. They are found on almost every other website. Users have accepted these things whole-heartedly. For example sidebar, header, footer and navigation sections.
People are so used to, that they unconsciously try to find these certain things at certain places so it is to understand these patterns. Moreover, the designer should understand that breaking conventions could lead to unimaginable and most probably negative consequences.
6. Basics of Graphics Design
If you want to be a web designer, you must know how to create visual elements for the web that are aesthetically attractive. Basics of graphic design like balance, harmony, and hierarchy are equally applicable in web design.
You may naturally understand some of them if you have an eye for design. However, if you do not, you have to learn them by heart.
How to pair different typefaces for the desired look and feel in the design? How do web fonts work? How to use them? We typically encounter these type of questions in Typography.
Selection of perfect typography and its scaling is something you should be expert in. Usage of web fonts in the design should not be a big deal for you.
8. Color Theory
Color is the most contributing factor in user perception of design. The transition from royal blue to baby pink can rotate user experience to 360 degrees. Vital skill designer needs to develop is to create the color palettes that evoke the right emotions.
The way different elements like header or footer are laid out in design is called the Grid design principles are a major part of web composition. Even though tons of websites do not follow them strictly. But you should still understand composition conventions so that you can play around with them creatively.
10. Design Software
Learning the different software is one of the most obvious requirements. Adobe Photoshop, Sketch and Adobe Illustrator are the most popular design tools experienced and you should be proficient in at least one of them. Illustrator is normally used for graphic design, whereas Photoshop is generally known for web design.
11. User Modeling & Testing
User is who you create designs for. The importance of looking at the design from a user’s perspective and scrutinize it intensely needs not to be mentioned.
In user modeling, we create and use user personas and scenarios, which helps us, improve our designs. We consider common scenarios like a user trying to find contact information and solve problems for a specific type of user. That enables you to create a website, which makes the user feel like it is tailor-made for him.
In user testing, we test different designs to check which one works the best. If you know how to improve your design with the help of actual user feedback, you have a super helpful skill.
As we talked earlier, there are particular personality traits, which make a good designer. We all human beings have a unique persona and not every kind of persona is appropriate for the design field. So let us flip the coin and check which personal qualities make a good designer.
1. Understand The Principles
Design principles are like divine rules and commandments, naturally inscribed on every designer’s heart. It may sound too dramatic, but is a concrete reality.
However, unlike religious commandments, they are not some to-do list. Design principles rather are the general guidelines; you can use to fulfill basic expectations of the audience.
Umbrella term of design principles covers many things. Color, shape, point, scale, typography, grid patterns, framing all fall under the category. Click here to read them in detail. They should become part of your muscle memory or gut instinct.
2. Has Good Observation
The talented designer never sees the world, as the non-designers see. He has an eye for detail. He is the one who can see the unseen or notice the unnoticed.
It sounds ideal to design something very new but the reality is that it is no longer easy, as we have gone through 6000 years of civilization. Still good designer always strives to give things his own twist and modernize them in his own way. He always keeps his horizons open.
3. Can Visualize Ideas
Being unable to visualize your own brilliant ideas is quite intimidating. You cannot take them to the next levels. A good designer can visualize his ideas, make them tangible and easy to grasp for others.
If you succeed in giving the audience a glimpse of your main idea, being pixel-perfect designer would no longer be utmost important.
In short, the audience should see what the designer wants them to see.
4. Not Afraid of Experiments
A good designer is never afraid of experiments. On the contrary, in the design area, you often realize the real solution after multiple experiments. Consistency is the key.
Often you end up trashing significant part of your work, but that by no angle is a failure. Rather it is the path to success you can not avoid.
So fearless experiments are essential because they are the only way to stretch the boundaries, defy the odds, expand the horizons and ultimately contribute something new in the world. Not only designers, but all creative people should be able to do that.
The designer is not the one who knows the solution, but the one who creates the solution by trial and error. He is the best problem solver.
5. Can Validate Assumptions
You cannot scrutinize the design you came up with after many strenuous hours.
However, a good designer is an empath for the user, and he maximizes his intuition to come up with the best solution.
So no matter, how damn sure you are that your proposed solution is the best possible solution. Sharing the work with client, peers or any person with good design sense would always be helpful. Sometimes you will be baffled by how unmistakably noticeable flaws were there in your design, but you failed to see them. If not that, you will at least gain some new perspective and new idea to improve the design.
6. Ability To Welcome Critics
The hardest part comes after the milestone of presenting your design work to the public. It is to tackle the feedback or more specifically negative feedback.
Many designers go super defensive when people point out something they forgot to consider. It happens during tests, as well. It definitely is overwhelming, when people reject something we spent days in refining.
Dumb users do not exist, but dumb designs do.
Great designers always welcome criticism and understand that it is all about design and not a designer. They listen humbly, communicate efficiently and in the end, design impeccably.
In the nutshell, Humility, Patience, Consistency, Observation, Idea Visualization and bravery are the key qualities of a good graphic designer.
Relax! This Is Not The End
Yes, do not be disappointed if you lack any of these personality traits or have zero expertise in any hard skill. Consistent effort always helps reach the destination. Yeah, it would be the ideal situation, if you have all of these skills but not knowing is also not the end of the world.
If you lack any of the hard skill, there are multiple ways to learn. You can learn it online on many courses websites. YouTube is also full of such content. Another option is to find the best mentor in your locality and ask him to provide personal training, either paid or non-paid. If you live in any big city, you can easily find some institute, which offers graphic design courses.
In my opinion, live classes are always better than online courses. They provide a favorable environment and helps develop soft skills. We hope you enjoyed reading the article. You are more than welcome to provide your valuable feedback in the comments section.