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9 Graphic Design Skills Businesses Need

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

The third most popular Adobe software, 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.

  1. Adobe Illustrator

Primarily used by creative professionals and graphic designers, 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.

  1. Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop enables images to be edited and manipulated, down to the individual pixel. Now synonymous with the creative visual world, ‘Photoshop’ has become the go-to term worldwide for discussing edited imagery. The software’s 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. The world’s most popular photo editing software, Photoshop is the most essential tool for budding creators to learn.

  1. Design Principles

An essential element of any designer’s skill list is the appropriate use of five design principles, which help 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, 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.

  1. Ideation

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 – knowledge based to aid with understanding the brief, visual based to help clarify the desired aesthetic, or contextual research to aid with fleshing out an initial idea.

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.

  1. Branding

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.

For knowledge on how Growthlabs can aid with your businesses branding – and all creative design work – visit here.

  1. Typography

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. Custom fonts are used by 65% of e-commerce businesses, though smaller businesses are innately more likely to use the ‘default’ corporate fonts, such as Arial and Times New Roman.

  1. 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 – even in 2024, with digital marketing standing atop the pile, print marketing offers a 70% higher recall rate for consumers than digital ads.

  1. Design for user experience

The designer needs to be mindful of how their designs will be used in practice and focus 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 – it’s widely believed that every £1 invested in UX results in a return of £100. User Experience should be at the forefront of your design plans when strategising on how to adapt your business.

Summary

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 by using creative concepts that 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’d like to learn more about how our graphic design team can turn your vision into a reality, please contact us.