Design career. How to become a Designer? Overview

WELCOME!

My name is DK. I am a UI/UX Designer.

This article is dedicated to all those, who thinks about how to become a Designer and make a living out of Design Career. This is just an overview article of this profession, pros and cons of being a Designer, why you might or might not want to become a Designer, challenges and expectations you will get in this career and some basics you need to know to be successful in the game. I’ll try to be as short as possible, not to waste your time and move you straight to action.

More detailed information about important aspects of Design Career you’ll find in my future articles.

So stay tuned, get inspired and have fun, not work!

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW…

Design career is an amazing life experience and great way to make enough money to support your family. Sometimes I feel that I’m not actually working, but having fun at my work, because I really like what I’m doing.

Pros.
Great news are that almost any business needs design services. It mean that even during bad economic situation when unemployment level is high you’ll still be able to find the job more easily than most of the people. Though gaining skills and experience is mandatory, you don’t need to get design degree to become top level professional.
Comparatively in a short amount of time you’ll be able to gain middle+ income, if you’ll be constantly working on your qualification.
Designer role involves so many disciplines beyond design itself that this experience could be a great starter for even your own business.

Cons.
However, to succeed as a Designer it is important to understand disadvantages and difficulties of this role.
First of all this job requires patience and perseverance to accomplish tasks in general, because sometimes one inch of some image requires hours of work to make it perfect and meet client’s requirements. If you don’t have those qualities, this job will become a nightmare and believe me, it’s not for you.
Second, you need to be able to deal with people to understand what they need, sometimes even if they don’t know what they need themselves.

WHERE TO START?

Design industry is very diverse: Graphic Design, Web Design, UI/UX Design, Motion Design, 3D Design, Illustration, Print Design, Logo Design, Photography retouching, Book Design etc.

So first, pick a role that makes you enjoy of what you’re doing. Design is a creative process, where you have to be inspired everyday to produce quality product, so make sure you like what you’re about to do.

Second, go there, where more money is at. If the industry is ready to pay more for your work, it means they expect more from you in term of qualification and having a lack of professionals. So the competition is not that tight there, because not so many people fit their requirements, and it will be easier for you to get a job or clients, if you’re qualified enough.

Third, look at the latest trends in the world and snap yourself to that field of business. If the industry is relatively new, you’ll be able to become more valuable with your new skills among people that don’t know how to do it. Plus, more likely that new type of business will be increasing it’s presence in the market, and for you it means more job opportunities and more clients.

Now UI/UX Design is a holy grail.

WHAT SKILLS REQUIRED?

You need knowledge of design applications, practical experience and personal brand.

Depending on design work you’ll be doing, you might need different software knowledge. However, usually it is pretty much similar or even the same for different design disciplines, and differs only depending on your taste and preference.

For example I had very different design experience (Graphic Design, Print Design, Advertising Design, Logo Design, Illustrations, Web Design, UI/UX Design etc.), and apps that I use the most are:
 — Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch for graphic design (including web design and UI/UX design);
 — Axure for wireframing and prototyping;
 — Lightroom for photo retouching;
 — AfterEffects for motion graphics;
 — Final Cut for video mixing;

That is not all the apps that I know and use. More detailed about that in my future posts. But knowing this set covers 99% of my tasks. However, learning new stuff is mandatory, if you want to develop your career and become more valuable.

Practice everywhere both on the day job and during your free time. Corporate environment is great to learn directly from industry professionals of all kinds, so get a day job. Also you get a chance to become an insider of how business actually work in this world. Freelance work helps you to learn how to communicate with clients, solve problems on your own, build the value of your work, become more responsible, develop entrepreneurial skills and more. So don’t hesitate to except some side work for you weekends and video game nights. Last, but not least way to get a great practical experience is to execute personal projects (fictitious designs). It’s a great way to develop your skills, gain experience and build your portfolio. And DON’T CARE that they are not real, because employers and clients DON’T CARE either, until you produce talented work.

Personal brand is probably one of the most important factors that effects you career. Of course, without being a good professional in terms of technical, professional and interpersonal skills there will be no successful career, but I know many great professionals with knowledge way beyond mine, and they are way back in their career than I am.

So presenting yourself, or should I even say “selling yourself” is a key to use your skills for building your career.

The most important things you have to focus on are: 
Online portfolio (personal website) is mandatory. This is your MAIN brand face;
 — LinkedIn and Resume for career building and industry connections; 
— Behance and Dribbble profiles for professional exposure and inspiration
Blog for people to get to know you better;

And all that has to be linked, so people won’t miss a chance to contact you!

(More about skills, career tips and personal branding in my future articles)

ACTION!

So go out there, learn apps, practice at home and at your day job, build portfolio and professional profile and enjoy!

Thanks for reading. I highly appreciate your interest and support. And check out my blog for more articles. Also share my blog, if you like it. Thanks.


Originally published at blog.dmytrokovalenko.com on March 31, 2015.