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designer learning new skills

The 5 skills designers must master for the future

September 25, 2017

By Lisa Dare

Designers have come a long way in a few years. While you may still occasionally get assigned “make it pretty” work, the world is waking up to the value, creativity and deep thinking designers do.

But while designers are finally getting their due, more is also expected of you. Visual and production design is becoming automated or brought into the hands of non-experts with sophisticated new tools. Designers who don’t upskill and embrace higher responsibilities will likely find their skills devalued.

From new technologies to new ways of thinking, here are five skills designers should consider mastering to attain a long and meaningful career.

1. Interaction design. “It’s not enough to understand how a design looks when you build it,” says Shea Morgan, a CX consultant with heavy agency experience. “In order to deliver an optimal customer experience, you need to know how it will engage users across multiple platforms, and how it fits with other parts of the business process.” 

2. ‘Learn to code.’ Let’s unpack that oft-given and distressingly vague advice. Even if you’re currently a print designer, your career will probably eventually take you near a website. Traditional web designers are increasingly being expected to take on front end development work, so it makes sense to learn a few coding skills and languages, or at least familiarize yourself with how they work. First and easiest, you should learn your way around CSS. Next is HTML5 and then JavaScript.   

3. Motion design. Animated graphics are highly engaging to website and social media readers, so it helps to master some of these skills. Video editing skills are also a prime area to invest in training, as corporations from ecommerce to B2B are increasingly recognizing their value in converting prospects.    

4. Augmented and virtual reality. “The payscale is astronomical for 3D and VR designers,” says Biaggo Comeriato, a creative director for a major ecommerce brand. Comeriato recommends learning the foundations—illustration, 3D, design, code and Adobe After Effects—and then experimenting for yourself with the technologies. “The skills are really in demand in in tech hotpots like Seattle and San Francisco, but employers want someone with experience, which is tough with such a new technology.”

5. Strategic mindset. From understanding how to solve problems to thinking about future-proofing design elements, today’s designers need to think strategically. They also need to be comfortable with interpreting data and using it to make better choices and solve problems.

“As major consulting firms gobble up agencies—and enterprises bring agency work in-house—designers will need to understand how to solve business problems and how to interact with business stakeholders,” says Beach, a solution executive who crafts digital strategies for Fortune 500 clients. Morgan agrees. “Being able to articulate and present a solution is now a critical skill, particularly for UX designers,” she says.

What’s next for you?  

Confused by the career path options? Our digital recruiters have a wealth of knowledge about hiring in your local market and would love to help. Call your local office and connect with a recruiter today. Or search design jobs all over the country.

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