5 Crucial Graphic Design Skills to Land (& Keep!) Your First Design Job

Graphic design and visual content have come to play a very powerful role in marketing and advertising.

Visual content is now king. Creative, interactive graphics dominate the world of website design. Businesses and brands compete vigorously for split-second audience attention spans—and to stand out from one another in a very crowded marketplace.

What role do graphic/web designers play in helping businesses and organizations meet their goals? What skills are considered most valuable today in the world of design?

This post breaks down five of the most important graphic design skills for 2017 (and beyond). We look at which skills will help you land that first job after design school—and which abilities you should develop further to stand out and add value at work.

1. Comfort Using the Adobe Suite of Graphic/Web Design Applications

Adobe produces some of the most important tools of the trade for today's graphic and web designers. Applications like Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, and Illustrator are the industry standard for most design positions.

Infographics expert, Venngage, analyzed 100 graphic design job postings and found that almost all of them required knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. They rank learning how to use these specific applications as the number one priority for aspiring graphic designers in 2017.

A solid graphic design program is built around teaching students how to navigate and apply these tools. Coursework will focus on completing a range of design tasks using Adobe applications—tasks that are considered fundamental to this career, such as desktop publishing, designing web pages, manipulating photographs, and creating/editing vector graphics.

2. Knowledge of HTML, CSS & Javascript

Front end coding skills are increasingly sought-after for graphic/web site designers, and will definitely help your application stand out during the hiring process. Understanding the basics of HTML5, CSS, and Javascript is essential for creating client-side web pages, and enhancing them with dynamic content and animations.

3. Photography Skills for Customized Graphic Designs

Relying solely on stock images is a real handicap for today's graphic designers. Businesses need original, personalized visuals to stand out and get noticed by consumers with rapidly dwindling attention spans. One way designers can help is by offering custom illustrations or beautiful photographs they've produced themselves for online and print projects.

What are the benefits of developing professional photography and/or illustrating skills?

  • You can charge more for freelance design services
  • Businesses that can't afford formal photo shoots will appreciate your ability to produce high quality, personalized images for their website and marketing materials
  • You will no longer by limited by stock images (opening up far greater possibilities for unique and memorable designs)

4. Solid Understanding of Where Graphic Design Meets Brand Identity

Visuals have an enormous impact on how we perceive a business or organization. When a designer creates a web page, print advertisement, business card, poster, or logo many small graphic elements come together to communicate the character of the company on the other end.

Today's graphic designers must understand how the design choices they make impact brand identity and influence audiences. Every detail, from font choice and colour palette, to image selection, placement, and quality, to overall usability/readability plays a part in defining the company you'll work for.

When graphic/web designers understand the fundamentals of branding, they can make better design decisions for clients, and offer advice on how to improve branding efforts.

For more on this, it's worth taking a look at this recent blog post we wrote on how graphic design can make or break a business brand.

5. Advanced Communication Skills are More Important than You Think

Yes, we know. Almost every "job skills" list includes communication skills. But this particular list would not be complete without stressing the enormous importance of communication in graphic/web design.

Whether you're a freelancer, work for a small company, or at a marketing/advertising firm, your success will depend on how well you listen to clients' needs, and communicate your design ideas.

Consider this: your employer or client may only have a vague idea of what they need you to produce. It is your job to sort through their wish list, identify key priorities, explain what is possible, pitch potential design solutions—and listen very, very closely to feedback.

You will need to refine and edit your designs until your client or boss is satisfied, so the ability to absorb criticism and adapt your work based on feedback is crucial.

It is not an exaggeration to say that your strength as a communicator will directly impact your success as a graphic/web designer.

Interesting in learning more about launching a graphic design career? Looking for comprehensive, cutting-edge graphic design training near you?

Consider Herzing College's Computer Graphic Design program, delivered at several of our campuses, including Toronto.

Herzing's graphic design training takes just 10 months to complete, and includes the option to add an additional 4 months of specialized training in web site design for free! Visit the program page for a complete course list and program details. We'll help you get started!

Learn More About Computer Graphic Design Training at Herzing