7 Tips To Get Ahead In Your Design Career

7 Tips To Get Ahead In Your Design Career

With the changing job climate, today's professionals are increasingly gravitating towards careers that allow flexibility within their schedules, the opportunity for remote working, and a greater work-life balance. This is something that is happening more and more in creative industries like design, where there are higher numbers of small businesses, self-employed workers, and freelancers than ever. These also happen to be some of the most competitive industries, making climbing the career ladder a challenge. 

The good news is that no matter where you are in your design career, or what your background is, with hard work and drive, it is entirely possible to find your niche in the design world. In this blog, we discuss how to get ahead in your design career

How can I make my design more attractive?

Work backward

If you have a goal in mind ‐ whether that's UX design, logo design, graphic design, or website design ‐ look at other designers who are successful in those roles and follow their lead. In other words, work backward. What do you need to do to get to that position? For example, if it's web design you're interested in, a good starting point would be to check out the portfolios of professional designers and see what their educational and career backgrounds are, and how their standard of work compares to your own. You could also contact them with any questions. Not only will this demonstrate your enthusiasm, but it will also help you to gain insider knowledge.

Practice makes perfect

You may be a naturally gifted artist but learning some of the other components of design, such as how to use design software and other design technology, takes time. Enrolling in a design course will give you access to these programs, as well as tuition from design professionals who can help you to sharpen your skill set. Better yet, you'll also gain certification to enhance your CV.

Always look for design inspiration

Successful designers have one thing in common ‐ and that's that they never stop looking for inspiration. There are many ways in which you can do this, from keeping in touch with what is going on in the wider industry to attending art exhibits and events. You can also take inspiration from other forms of media such as podcasts and TV series. We highly recommend the podcast, ‘The Honest Designers', and the Netflix series, ‘Abstract: The Art of Design'. You could also try top photography magazines for inspiration.

How do you become a successful designer?

Talk to other designers

If you have a designer or a design company that you admire, why not pick their brain? By talking to and networking with others in your field, you'll understand more about their thinking patterns, helping you to solve design-related problems you come across in the future, and perhaps even giving you a fresh perspective on your own designs. It may also open opportunities for future collaborations. 

The design portfolio is king

For anyone in a creative industry, having a portfolio is a must ‐ and this is especially true for designers. As well as being a chance to reflect your creativity, a design portfolio also showcases your work to potential clients. In a society that is more digitally connected than ever, having an online portfolio has become increasingly important. It also allows potential clients to discover your work without you having to pursue them directly. An offline portfolio is equally important for meeting clients in-person and a good talking prompt for meetings and interviews. 

Learn to think like a designer

Once you're into the swing of creating designs, you can start to reflect on your work. By getting into the question-framing mindset and asking yourself things like ‘What are the common elements I find in designs I like?' and ‘How would I improve a design I don't like?' you are retraining your mind to think in terms of design. But as much as it's important to look at our work through a critical eye, you should also allow yourself to get lost in dreams from time to time. After all, creativity happens when we stop and let our thoughts flow.

Read Books About Human Culture and Psychology

If you want to get ahead in your design career, you need to keep in mind that your work is ultimately a product that will be sold to consumers. One of the best ways to begin to understand what consumers want is by learning about human motivation and behaviour. Getting into the mind of your intended audience will help you to tailor your designs to their needs and desires. Grow your library with books on this subject including: ‘The Design of Everyday Things', and ‘Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas and Others Die'.

What skills do you need to be a designer?

Designers play an essential role in all industries but especially the tech industry because they are responsible for the design of every app, website, and product. If you've wondered what skills do you need to be a designer, check out the following list:

  • Proficiency in design software such as Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator to make sure your work is of a professional industry standard. If you want to be a designer, you should start mastering these tools.
  • UX design that allows you to control your user's experience and make decisions based on the user's needs and psychology such as colour, pattern, or image.
  • Information architecture is how you should structure and place your information on the website so that the user can easily find it.
  • Graphic design helps to understand the visual elements of any design such as balance, hierarchy, etc, and create aesthetically pleasant imagery.
  • Responsive design is crucial because a designer has to optimise websites in a way that both mobile and desktop users get the best experience.
  • Typography refers to your ability to select, scale and size the right fonts and make them work for your piece.

What are the qualities of a good designer?

Having a creative eye and advanced software knowledge doesn't guarantee you success. A good designer should be able to work to a brief, accept feedback, make changes, develop good working relationships and more. They challenge themselves and always ask questions that will make them a better designer. Communication, logical thinking, and confidence are other qualities that a good designer should possess in order to gain more work and be successful.

If you would like to get ahead in your design career but feel your skills need to be taken to the industry standard level, take a look at our design courses now.

by Emma Gibbins | 27 Sep 23

3 Interesting Courses For You

Graphic Design Intro

from £249 + VAT

1 day course
Learn the principles you need to create beautiful, professional designs.

Discover the secrets of effective visual communication.

  • Understanding the design process
    Principles of composition
    Great typography
    Branding guidelines
    Illustrations and photography

InDesign Intro          

from £329 + VAT

2 day course
Learn how to create beautiful layouts and documents in Adobe InDesign.

Design professional layouts for magazines, brochures, reports, and books.

  • InDesign's interface and workflow
    Text and typography
    Working with Styles
    Working with images
    Creating complex layouts

Photoshop Intro

from £329 + VAT

2 day course
This is the Adobe Authorised course for new users of Adobe Photoshop.

Produce and edit images to meet professional industry standards.

  • Customising Photoshop to suit you
    Master selection tools for precise edits
    Techniques for enhancing tone and colour
    Transform images with generative AI
    Acquire retouching skills for flawless images