In order to present themselves professionally, all businesses need access to at least some basic graphic design skills. Graphic designers use images, symbols, or even words themselves, to solve communication problems, or achieve an objective.
Documentation for customers (whether electronic or hardcopy) needs to be aligned to the brand, well designed, and clearly presented. To meet marketing objectives, and to create an effective digital presence, websites, ads, and digital assets need to be engaging, and meet the brand’s ethos.
What are the essential graphic design skills that businesses need access to?
We start our list of skills with the three main software tools from the Adobe Suite (which is fairly universal within design circles).
1. Adobe InDesign
InDesign is best suited for creating multipage documents containing text, vector artwork, and images. It utilises guides and grids to place page elements precisely, and to create professional layouts.
InDesign also has professional typesetting features to format text consistently across a complex document. Invaluable software to graphic designers, it is an industry standard.
2. Adobe Illustrator
Illustrator is used to create a variety of digital and printed images, including logos, charts, and illustrations. Using shape and drawing tools, it lets the user create precise, editable vector graphics, that stay sharp when scaled to any size.
Adobe Illustrator is often used to create logos and icons that need to look good on a range of different documents or design assets, such as billboards, business cards and digital ads.
3. Adobe Photoshop
Photoshop enables images to be edited and manipulated ,down to the individual pixel. Its powerful editing tools allow the user to correct exposure and colour balance, alter colours, crop and straighten images, or combine multiple images to create something new.
4. Design Principles
An essential element of any designers’ skill list is the appropriate use of five design principles which help to create a design that is both visually appealing, and properly structured.
Alignment — creates a sharper, more unified design.
Repetition — strengthens a design by tying together otherwise separate parts and, as a result, creates associations. It draws the customers’ eye from one part of the design to the next, thereby helping them remember the brand.
Contrast — creates emphasis and increases impact of your design.
Hierarchy — creates organisation, and gives extra value to the more important messages.
Balance — provides stability and structure to a design, either through symmetry or tension of elements. Ensures the design doesn’t appear too heavy.
For designers, ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas. Out of all the graphic design skills, ideation is possibly the most important because businesses may not know what they want until they see the finished design.
Businesses need this skill because innovation, and the evolution of current designs helps to keep brands modern and relevant. It also stops them from becoming staid and boring.
The ideation process can fundamentally be broken down into four steps:
Research – gaining clarity and a strong understanding of the brief. Can inform decision making and design direction. There are three types of research:
- research to understand the brief.
- research of an idea.
- research of visual language, which can clarify aesthetics and the look and feel of a project.
Idea Generation — developing your ideas; being open to everything; looking for links and creating stories.
Evaluation — filtering of ideas to see what works and what doesn’t by analysing their viability.
Application — Using the design ideas in context to create working drafts from which a final version can be selected.
Graphic designers bring branding to life through logos, colours, typography, illustration, photography, graphic elements, and everything else that makes up the brand.
Customers gain their first impression of a company from its branding. Exceptional design can make a lasting impression and helps build a customer connection to the brand.
Graphic designers predominantly deal with visual designs, but they must also ensure that the ‘tone of voice’ the text depicts is consistent with the designs and visual elements they create, and that together these effectively communicate the company’s message.
Typography includes selecting the best font for a project, and ensuring the text aligns with the overall design of the piece. The choice of typeface influences how well it works with your layout, colour scheme, and brand. Effective typography is part of creating a brand style, and can heavily influence the feel and emotional impact of your designs.
8. Design for Print
Print may need designs to be presented in different file formats and colour systems. To create good design for offset or digital print, designers need to understand how to present files, accounting for such things as bleed, slug or dot gain. Consideration also needs to be given to the size, weight, medium, and finish that the designs will be printed on.
9. Design for user experience
The designer needs to be mindful of how their designs will be used in practice, and focused on optimising them for the end user. Although design for UX (user experience) is a well-known term in web design (incorporating how a user navigates the site, and using design to optimise for particular user behaviour), the principle should also be used more widely.
The experience of the end user is paramount when producing any design asset. For example, a business card printed with text so small it can’t easily be read, would not provide a good user experience.
Graphic design skills are fundamental if you’re looking to create something unique and exciting that communicates your brand’s visual identity in an appealing way. Companies place a high value on this because it helps them stand out from the competition, using creative concepts which stick in customers’ minds.
Designers must have creative flair and the skill needed to use relevant applications, plus an understanding of the design principles and how these can be applied to different mediums. Great design is perfectly aligned with a brand’s values and message, and creates impactful user experiences that provide real business benefit.
If you would like to learn more about how our graphic design team can turn your vision into a reality, please contact us.