In a conversation with one of my friends about the problems that designers face in their professional life, she highlighted that while designers may get good design-related skills during design education, they lack other skills that are needed in the typical work environment. For example, designers may only think of their tasks without considering the whole project requirements. Designers may find it hard to communicate with the managers or the marketing teams and this may hinder their creativity.
This notable observation highlighted the importance of extending the designers’ knowledge outside the design curriculum over the course of their degree to prepare them for their professional career. Actually, designers need to have basic knowledge of a number of skills highlighted below in order to complete the toolset required to excel in their future career. These skills vary from business, marketing, and psychology…etc.
As highlighted in my previous article, 5 Common Myths About Design, design extends its role inside the company to cover the strategy of the company. Therefore, designers should be ready to be able to positively contribute to discussing critical decisions and putting the business strategy along with the stakeholders’ body.
Designers need to learn the basics of business administration skills such as understanding business models and how to implement them to achieve innovation inside the company. Some design students do a minor in business administration, which contributes to boosting their skills in this domain. However, this may not be available for all design students. Therefore, business administration courses or online courses can help fill this gap in their skills. Fundamentals of Business Management is one of the useful courses for beginners in business provided by Edx online learning platform.
Recommended books: Understanding Business
Management skill presents an important skill set that designers need to acquire for two main reasons: to help them manage their freelance work, and to be able to manage their own tasks and teams inside their companies. Currently, many designers are working as freelancers, which means they not only do design tasks, but they also contact the client, get feedback and build project plans that include cost, time, and human resources. On the other hand, designers working full time inside a company needs to understand how their project managers manage the project and how they can manage projects in case they are promoted to managerial level.
In order to handle these tasks professionally, designers are required to have project management skills. The good news that there are many project management courses both online and offline such as the PMP courses that end with a certification exam to show proof their project management skills.
Recommended books: Head First PMP
Designers work closely with the marketing team as the marketing team builds a clear understanding of the consumer and formulates a marketing plan that targets the proper segment of the market while the designers work with them to reflect this marketing analysis on the final product. Learning marketing skills help designers to design for their audience through the clear understanding to their problems and needs.
Many design schools provide marketing courses or advertisement courses. However, others don’t have these courses available. The Internet has a lot of resources on this topic. Introduction to Marketing Essentials is another course from Edx that provides a basic introduction to marketing.
Recommended books: Marketing Research (7th Edition)
Design principles depend on psychology to understand how consumers perceive colors, lines, and other design elements in a layout. Also, it is important to understand user behavior in the interactive media. Psychology helps designers to think about their consumers and achieve the target of the design through applying psychology principles.
For example, designers use warm colors, such as red and organization to attract the consumer’s attention, while blue colors reflect calm and purity.
Recommended books: 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)
In the field of interaction design, designers need to learn how users interact with the computer in order to communicate with the game, application, or website. The HCI lets designers understand the technological, psychological and human factors involved in the interactive experience when designing digital games and apps.
Recommend books: Interdisciplinary Interaction Design
The above skills help to build the designers’ strengths to face career challenges professionally and overcome the gaps that may occur due to the narrow vision of the design curricula. Furthermore, these skills can help designers to find opportunities or start their own businesses without the need to seek external assistance. I have seen good designers who fail to start their own businesses due to lack of business and management skills. In summary, the above skills can add a great knowledge base for designers and can easily be acquired from different sources including class sources, online courses, and books.