Graphic design is a career path that requires constant innovation and exceptional creativity to succeed. Some skills are essential for budding graphic designers longing for valuable industry experience. Here are ten graphic design skills that employers look for and value.

1. InDesign

Adobe InDesign is one of the most valuable pieces of software a graphic designer can master. InDesign is an industry-standard piece of software that graphic designers regularly use. InDesign is not commonly used to create images; it is mainly used to create design pages and visual layouts.

InDesign has a learning curve and takes time to get used to. Graphic designers never stop learning new tips in the programme which help to produce high-quality pieces. InDesign is widely used within the industry, making it an essential skill you will need as a graphic designer.

2. Illustrator

Illustrator is another programme within the Adobe Suite that graphic designers need to be familiar with. Illustrator is used to create a variety of digital and printed images, including logos, charts, and illustrations. Adobe Illustrator is used to create vector graphics, which are different to graphics created in Photoshop using a pixel grid. Vector graphics are made up of paths defined by a start and end point, which are used to create simple drawings or complex illustrations.

3. Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is designed to use pixels to manipulate and enhance images. Since its creation in 1990, it has become the world’s most popular editing programme, making it a fundamental requirement for graphic designers. Graphic designers use Photoshop for editing and modifying raster/bitmap graphics (aka JPEGs, PNGS and GIFs) to improve the appearance of photos.

Proficiency using Photoshop will be in every exceptional graphic designer’s repertoire.

Adobe designed InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator to be used seamlessly together to create designs. Adobe ensured that the file types are compatible with each programme to allow graphic designers to switch from one piece of software to the next. Therefore, you will work closely with all three of these Adobe programmes.

4. Typography

Typography within graphic design focuses on things like selecting the best font for a project, and ensuring the text aligns with the overall design of the piece. Typography-related skills are transferable between programmes, but they are commonly used within InDesign.

Your choice of typeface and how well it works with your layout, colour scheme, and so on really influences the quality of your design. Effective typography creates meaning and can evoke feeling within customers, making them remember your company’s brand. Employers will value typography skills because their branding and marketing materials will encompass the typography you decide on.

As well as technical typography skills, it’s also important for designers to have an in-depth understanding of typography so that they can justify their typographic choices to their employers. It is also important that those choices are backed by theory, rather than just purely aesthetic qualities.

5. Design Principles

An essential element of any designers’ skill list is the five Design Principles:

  1. Alignment creates a sharper, more unified design.
  2. Repetition strengthens a design by tying together otherwise separate parts and, as a result, creates associations. Repetition helps draw customers eyes from one part of the design to the next and helps them remember the brand.
  3. Contrast is the most effective way to create emphasis and impact with your design.
  4. Hierarchy creates organisation.
  5. Balance provides stability and structure to a design, either through symmetry or tension of elements. It ensures that the design doesn’t appear too heavy in places.

The Design Principles will help you to create a design that is both visually appealing and properly structured. These principles are not easily taught; only through experience will you build up these skills.

6. Ideation

For graphic designers, ideation is a skill that links to your overall creativity. In graphic design terms, it is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas.

Employers will truly value this skill because you will use it every time you are assigned a project. Understanding what your employer wants from a design and coming up with innovative ideas which satisfy their requirements can be challenging.

The ideation process can fundamentally be broken down into four steps:

  1. Research – gives clarity, a strong understanding of a brief and can inform decision making and design direction. There are three types of research; research to understand (the brief), research of an idea and research of visual language, which can clarify aesthetics and the look and feel of a project.
  2. Idea Generation – developing your ideas. Be open to everything and anything at this point, look for links and create stories.
  3. Evaluation – filter through your ideas, see what works and what doesn’t by analysing their viability and edit.
  4. Apply – by this point, you should have a clear direction of how to design the outcome

7. Branding

Graphic designers bring a brand 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, meaning employers want to see evidence that you can represent their company with exceptional designs that their customers will love.

Graphic designers predominantly deal with visual designs, but they must consider the ‘tone of voice’ the text depicts. The tone of voice largely influences a company’s branding by dictating how it communicates with its intended audience. Designers must ensure the tone of voice is consistent throughout, aligned with the brand, and effectively communicates the company’s message to the target audience.

8. Design For Print

Graphic designers are expected to know offset and digital printing, and the appropriate way to prepare for them. You should be comfortable with the terminology around printing such as bleed and slug, in addition to print production terms such as dot gain.

Designers must be comfortable using different file formats and know when to use colour systems. Designing for print also involves knowing the paper sizes which range from A0 to A10, and which paper weights are best for use. Mistakes made during the printing process may cause delays or result in poor quality.

9. Problem Solving

As a graphic designer, you must turn ideas into actual designs, meaning you will often be faced with challenges which you will have to overcome. Problem solving is a fundamental skill that companies look for in their graphic designers due to the constant need to develop solutions for the company.

For instance, after you present your design to the employer, you will be given feedback. You will then have to revise your design, so it meets the new expectations. In this example, the problem is your employer’s feedback and the revisions represent the solution you must generate.

10. Creativity

Having a creative flair is incredibly important in the graphic design industry, where imagination is required to create original ideas. A creative mindset will guide you through the design process, from generating ideas through to developing, designing, and refining your concepts.

Employers look to their designer to create something unique and exciting, to help communicate their brand’s visual identity to customers in the most visually appealing way. Companies truly value graphic designers because they help businesses stand out from the competition with creative concepts which stick in customers’ minds.


There are countless skills needed to succeed as a graphic designer, and nobody truly stops learning new skills due to constant changes in the industry. Graphic designers must be skilled in the three Adobe applications which are frequently used to create designs for companies. Graphic designers must have a natural creative flair, problem solving mindset, and a variety of other skills which employers look for.

At Growthlabs, we have an experienced graphic design team who will take the time to talk to you and understand exactly what you are looking for and ensure we satisfy your expectations.

If you would like to learn more about how our graphic design team can turn your vision into a reality, please contact us.