7 Graphic Design Skills to Dominate the Industry

Graphic designer setup with dual monitors and Adobe CC

Graphic design is a potentially lucrative industry with a promising future.

Many people are tapping into graphic design to unleash their creativity and ideas and showcase them to the world.

This means there’s a lot of competition out there and it’s all about who comes out on top.

Nowadays graphic designers need to have a strong set of skills to stand out from the competition to be valuable in the eyes of employers.

Below I’ve compiled the 7 graphic design skills that will make you an invaluable asset to companies.

1. Drawing/Sketching

Sketchbook with various sketches of logo concepts
Image Credit: Adham Dannaway

Drawing and sketching isn’t essential to be a good graphic designer but it’s a plus.

Graphic designers who can draw are able to showcase their ideas visually to employers and clients. This gives them a better idea of what they can expect and how the ideas will be implemented along with real-life examples.

When it comes to illustration and collaboration good drawing skills go a long way to better designs and communication. 

You can sketch out the illustrations by combining real-life examples giving you a better idea of how the final piece should look when designing. You could also take a scanned picture of it and import it into your PC and trace over it.

When it comes to collaboration, you can better communicate your ideas to your colleagues as it can be tough explaining your thoughts to them verbally.

2. Software Skills

Adobe CC all apps

Being a great designer is not only about having good knowledge of typography and color, you also a need a good software to apply that knowledge.

The Adobe Creative Cloud is the industry-standard for graphic designing which is a creative suite with about 50+ apps. Amongst these the most popular and in-demand apps are Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

Venngage did an interesting study of analyzing 100 graphic design job posts in which they found that an average of 75% employers were looking for a graphic designer proficient in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

Developing your software skills is about learning the ins and outs of a graphic design software.

The adobe products are complicated tools with a huge learning curve for beginners (even some professionals struggle with it) so learning all the shortcuts, tools and functionalities can make you stand out from the rest.

3. Motion Graphics or Animation

Short animated clip of a man walking in a loop
Image Credit: Yans Media

Motion Graphics and Animations are becoming more and more popular

Marketers are increasing their focus on video content including explainer videos, animated logos and advertisements. The ROI on video content is great for these businesses, which make you an exceptional candidate for job positions.

Big social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are also increasing focus on encouraging more video content on the web. Content creators have also noted that video content tends to grab more attention than other types of content.

By learning motion design (even just the basics) you are carving a way for a secure future for yourself. 

4. Digital Typography

Illustration showing variability of fonts in digital typography

Graphic designers already have a good idea of how good typography impacts their designs however, it is even more important on the web.

Typography on the web is different than print medium. 

There are multiple back-end operations going on in the internet when displaying type, and good knowledge of digital typography is crucial when designing for the web as your text may not always appear as you intend to.

There are also a number of other things that you have to look for with digital typography; licensing of fonts, font units (em, rem, ch, vw), variable fonts and responsive text just to name a few.

5. Coding

Screen displaying multiple lines of code

When it comes to graphic design I would recommend you stick with the basic front-end which include HTML, CSS and Javascript.

If you’ve been looking at graphic design job opportunities for a while then you might have noticed that some positions actually require you to have some basic knowledge of HTML or CSS.

I believe that knowledge of coding is becoming more and more important due to the rapid shift from print to digital design. Since the whole internet is based around lines of code it would be a versatile skill to possess.

If you want to survive in design, you better learn how to code…

…When you can do both, you can do things no one else can do. Technology companies that innovate tend to have these unique people. – Tech veteran.

John Maeda

I have written a detailed article on Coding for Graphic Designers. In it I highlight what coding is, the necessity of it, what languages to learn, where to learn them from and benefits of learning it. Be sure to check that out.

6. UX Design

Illustration of person arranging web design elements on screen

When it comes to making a design you always have to guarantee a satisfying experience for the user and this is especially true in web design.

User experience design is becoming more important as businesses are shifting towards digital to reach customers.

Designing the part of products that people interact with is increasingly in-demand among employers. Data has become central to many products, which has created a need for people with user interface design skills who can make those products easy for customers to use.

Strohacker design school

A professional UX designer can interpret user behavior and psychology to bring together all elements of a pleasurable user experience together such as branding, usability, functionality and design.

No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.

Don Norman, inventor of the term “User Experience”

7. Image Editing

Photo editing and retouching process of a landscape image

90% of the information processed by our brain is visual; processing images 60,000 times faster than text.

With these mind-blowing stats you can guarantee that many businesses would want you to be good with handling images.

Image retouching and manipulation is a whole different discipline and graphic designers specializing in some other field don’t need to know too much about it.

Some helpful image editing skills might be converting images into vectors, resizing images for social media, retouching, adding or deleting minor details such as dust, flare and glare and making slight adjustments.

Developing your image editing skills will help you in every aspect of your career life whether that be editing images for your own portfolio or a clients’.


The graphic design industry promises a good future to many aspiring, passionate designers.

However, due to the high competition it is becoming increasingly difficult to survive as a graphic designer. The skills discussed in this article may not be absolutely necessary for junior graphic designers but in order to excel in your field these skills will definitely make you stand out from the crowd.

7 thoughts on “7 Graphic Design Skills to Dominate the Industry”

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