Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jul 26, 2018

4 Graphic Design Skills Every Professional Should Have

Jul 26, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

Bad design can do anything from give people a bad perception of a brand or even land them in court before they even make their first profit. If you don't have the right skills as a professional graphic designer, you could make some rookie mistakes and ruin your own reputation. No one is born with graphic design skills, but that doesn't mean they can't be learned.

Here are 4 skills every graphic designer should have.

1. Knowledge of Color Theory

A good graphic designer should have a grasp on basic color theory. You know how that McDonald's logo has such strong a strong red and yellow color? That's no accident.

People who understand color theory can also understand how and why those colors are used by companies. Colors like brown, green, and sky blue are often used by natural food and conservation companies to signify a commitment to the earth and nature. Food brands use bold reds and yellows because they are connected with hunger and can make us thirsty.

Color theory also entails knowing which colors can complement one another. Knowing how to balance colors is important in building a strong brand. Check out these food packaging design tips for some more ideas.

2. The Adobe Suite

Every good graphic designer should at least have a cursory knowledge of the design products created by Adobe. While lots of companies make great products, if a designer doesn't know the Adobe tools that most of their colleagues will collaborate on, there could be issues. They might have a tough time sharing, converting, and exporting files.

Every designer has a favorite, between Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator. A designer doesn't need to know all of them but they should have a deep knowledge of at least one.

3. Basic Web Design

The basic elements of HTML and CSS are everywhere. From digital ad programs to email programs, every program you'll need to use will have some elements related to web design.

Your graphic designer should know some basic idea of how to make things look good or at least how to make them look "less bad."

Whether they can build your new website from scratch or not, be sure you know your way around an HTML page at the very least.

4. Knowing How To Write Invoices

As a graphic designer, you're professional who should know how to set a value for your work. While you might not love to talk about money, you should at least be able to estimate what you're worth.

The first thing prospective clients will want to know is how much you charge. As they describe what they want to be done, you should be able to make a back of the envelope calculation of how much time it will cost you. You should be charging a professional rate and give yourself enough hours to make mistakes and circle back to your clients.

Graphic Design Skills Take Time To Develop

IF you haven't had the time to hone your graphic design skills, that doesn't mean that you can't still get paid while you build your experience. Take some smaller clients that don't pay as well and you'll be able to experiment, try out new ideas, and build your portfolio to catch bigger fish.

If you want to fold your design skills into a career in tech, check out our guide for what you need to know as an IT specialist.