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Top 7 Essential Skills Set for Graphic Designer

By February 10, 2018January 10th, 2019No Comments4 min read

Graphic design is integral to our lifestyle it involves effective communication through visual concepts and the end product is usually print and digital media.

As a graphic designer, you achieve communication goals by having the basics of an essential skill set.

Visual content impressions are all around you, and they all compete for consumption of either purchasing a product, informing you, educating among many other goals.

So in most instance, graphic design involves merging creativity with strategy, communication with brand identity savvy for it to be well-crafted and eye-catching.

In fact, all the modern data collected proves that visuals increase engagement by at least 10%.

Having a great graphic designer or design agency to create visually impressive content and website will ultimately mean more engagement and converted viewers spending longer amounts of time on your site and come back more often.


Let’s jump into the 7 essential skills as a graphic designer you need to have!


1. Visual Creativity

Famous graphic designers do more than play around with stock images and design elements. Great graphic designers communicate!

Putting it on paper the ideas from the client’s brief through sketch is the building block to any graphic design project. Effective designers learn to have the concept on paper before having it on a screen.

The process of brainstorming through sketches has proven to result in more creative trials on a given project. Having sources of graphic design inspiration is?important in the combination of?various elements in visual communication.


2. Typography

Among the most consumed content is composed of type from a magazine, newsletters, blog posts, to website. So it may be overlooked, but typography as a skill set hasn?t degraded in the digital age.

We react positively or negatively to fonts depending on how you match with the content and images on the site.

Typography has become even more important for digital graphic design! This is to illustrate, graphic designers need to have a clear understanding of font families, line-height, tracking, and more.

As typography is the language of the text in graphic design, as a successful professional you should be fluent in it.


3. Layout

Graphic design involves the combination of various visual elements in communication and relay of information. As graphic designers thereby you need to organize and structure elements on a page so they are clear and guide visitors towards the goal or ?conversion?.

For instance, if you are designing a retail page, the arrangement should suggest the ease to purchase a product.

Any well-structured layout present information and a path for the consumer while having the balance between the product and whitespace.


4. Design Software

Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are just a few of the many applications used for graphic design. However, graphic designers should always be proficient in at least a few of these platforms and be aware of the rise and fall in their use.

Graphic designers should also be up to snuff on new applications so they don?t fall behind the times.

In certain occasions, your clients might want more than images. Either an animation, programming language integration, documents with interface elements, and interactive infographics.

You?ll need to learn a program like Adobe if you want to develop these more complex and multimedia-rich projects.


5. Color Theory

The visual content you develop as a designer would require more than using color swatches.

Your clients/ customers subconsciously appraise color decisions and factor them into their split-second decisions to continue browsing a site or go elsewhere for their content.

Understanding how to utilize, contrast and the combination of different colors based on context is an essential skill.

Color theory also involves shades and tints along with the effects they produce.


6. Web Design

In the basic form of a website structure and style, HTML and CSS are the programming languages involved

However many sites are supported by Content Managing System (CMS) that are easy to work with but as a graphic designer, you might need to have a basic understanding of HTM and CSS.

With this skill set, you should be able to able to manipulate the web page elements and images.


7. Print Design

Within print media visibility, readability and layout of your content are important.

As Graphic designers having knowledge of color, printing processes, color separation, grid layout might save you a lot.

Point to remember, that the color display mode on the screen and on a print material are different. And so they shouldn?t be interchanged as the result would be disappointing.



Have in mind this skill set do not function independently, therefore you would need to combine them according to the context of the project.

Point to note is the end objective is to communicate, create a visual hierarchy that will result in desirable action on a website or an advert.

Online courses are advantageous in learning the soft skills Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Web Design and HTML & CSS. If you don?t have these skills but want to pursue a career in graphic design, it?s time to start learning!


Have we left out a skill set that is essential of graphic designers? Don’t forget to share in the comment section below.

Paul S

Founder and Team Lead of Simpaul Design, a brand strategy and design agency in Nairobi, Kenya. Here at Simpaul Design, we work with brands across various categories with a focus on connecting with consumers and building brands that people want to be a part of. We specialize in brand identity and strategy, UX/UI, and brand transformation.