The field of graphic design is in an extremely unique place right now, thanks to the online and mobile revolution. In order to succeed in today’s minefield of graphic design, the ones who will rise above the rest are the ones who stay on top of trends and ahead of the curve in terms of technological advances. Here are four must haves for graphic designers if they want to stay ahead and excel in their field.
Streamlining Design Programs
Any successful graphic design professional will agree that staying updated on the latest programs and technology is essential. Here are some common tasks undertaken by graphic designers and how some cool tools to make those tasks easier.
- Comparing – Many designers find two screens a necessity when they are working on a particular piece. But unfortunately don’t always have the option of having a second monitor nearby. Look into programs like iDisplay that allow you to turn your smartphone or tablet into a second screen to make working on the go much easier.
If you’re working for a company ask the management for another screen. If you’re doing freelance work you’ll find it’s worthwhile investing in another screen.
- Designing – Photoshop has become almost a requirement for many graphic designers. But as there are many different types of designers, there are many different add-on’s and plugins to customize and tailor to your needs. Try plugins such as Guide for better pixel manipulation, Web-font for web design fonts, or Portraiture for smoothing out portraits and close-ups. Understanding and mastering plugin in any design software is critical to stay in the game.
- Collaboration – If you’re working in a team collaboration becomes a necessity. Sending designs back and forth using emails is inefficient. It’s much better to use a software like Creately which has real-time collaboration. By nature graphic designers tend to independent and but a second opinion never hurts.
Even if you’re doing freelance collaboration can help you immensely. Modifying your design and giving the ability to your customers to see that changes in real-time can cut down on many unnecessary revisions and make you a much more productive person.
These programs are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to design software programs. Depending on the type of design work you do you will benefit from other specified programs. There are always updates to existing programs and innovative software being developed, and any successful graphic design professional should take advantage of these resources.
An Effective PR and Marketing Strategy
It doesn’t matter how awesome you are, if no one knows your name, your business will go nowhere. An effective public relations and advertising strategy is a must for both established firms and individual entrepreneurs. Whether it’s managed by a seasoned ad agency or out of a basement, few will dispute this is a promotional aspect of a business that can make or break the bottom line.
One of the effective, quick ways to market your brand and company is to be involved on social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are among the most widely used networks so having a presence on these platforms is necessary. Millions of consumers are already there so it makes sense to join them.
Pinterest account is another must have for graphic designers because it is one of the fastest growing website in the world with a heavy emphasis on visual content.
Take this one step further by creating accounts on niche platforms that are used by your target audience. Share your work on sites like Behance to showcase and sell your work, or even Etsy if you are looking to sell designs for things such as wedding invitations, letter pressing or screen printing.
Also establish relationships with blogs and other sites in your niche so you can exchange articles and reference each other. Creating a community among people in the industry establishes credibility for you and your company because it is an effort to share information, not make a sale.
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to actively participate on each and every network. But try to focus on at least 3 networks to increase your reach.
As many graphic designers today are working freelance, it is essential that they have an understanding of business procedure so that they can protect themselves and be compensated fairly. Because design is so fluid, there is certainly room for misinterpretation of expectations. This is why it is necessary for designers to understand how to price their work, and write up solid contracts that detail your and your client’s rights and expectations.
If it’s a considerable project involving lot of work it is always a good idea to agree on timely deliverable. So you’ll be getting paid partially throughout the project.
If you’re just starting out and don’t know much about creating and managing these contracts it’s safer to go through a freelance website. Make sure to consider the commission taken from the freelancing site when determining the pricing.
Consider taking a course in business or entrepreneurship basics, seeking advice from a business professional or a mentor in the industry, or reading some excellent resource books to get a firm understanding of your responsibilities and duties as a freelance designer.
To expand your graphic design work and build a business around it you need this knowledge, making it another must have for graphic designers.
It may come as a no-brainer to some, but a well-designed website is the most important tool a graphic designer can use to their advantage. Even if you come highly recommended most clients will need to see some of your previous work before the give their beloved project to you.
Many graphic design professionals will design their own website, but consider consulting with a professional web developer to ensure that the technical aspects of the site run smoothly and efficiently. You maybe good at design but there are many other aspects to consider when building a website.
Things like hosting, mail management, search engine optimization, social media integration is beyond many graphic designers knowledge spectrum. So leave it to the professionals but do some proper research before hiring a company to do this.
Shop around for different wireless internet providers, and find one that fits your bandwidth and speed needs, as well as your budget, to keep you connected to your site, visitors and clients. This is also where you should have your well rounded portfolio available to those who are looking to sample your work.
If you’re looking for some inspiration then take a look at this massive collection of awesome websites of web design companies.
What are Other Must Haves for Graphic Designers
Today’s graphic design professionals have such a wide array of resources to choose from when it comes to completing projects, that this list could only skim the surface of what’s out there. Nevertheless, these items are essential for finding success in this ever-changing field.
Are you a graphic designer? What are some other must haves for graphic designers that you think should be included here. Do let us know in the comments.