7 Tips To Turn Design Beginners into Pros

Posted on February 25, 2017 by Nikhil P Naik

If you don’t have much experience with modern design tools, don’t worry. Digital resources are more accessible than ever and with the right attitude and application, you can become a design pro in no time.

Choose the right tool for the job

When it comes modern design methods there are so many digital tools to choose from it is difficult to know where to start. There’s Photoshop, Antetype, Ink, and a host of other desktop and mobile applications. Each piece of software will have its own strengths and weaknesses and its own challenges for a new user.

What’s more, each digital tool is likely to focus on a particular area. There are software packages specialising on web design, photo editing, creating images from scratch and some for generating infographics. Your first step on the road to becoming a design pro is understanding what tool you need for your particular project.


And make sure you know how to use it properly

Once you’ve settled on a design application, you then need to learn how to use it. The first thing to do is acquire the program. Most programs will cost you, but there may be free trials that you can investigate, as well as open source alternatives that are free of charge, but which may have less features. Start by tinkering with your new program, exploring the built-in “help” feature and seeing how far you can get on your own.

After this, you may want to try some formal training to get to grips with your design program. There are in-person courses which you might consider taking a course at the Illustrator training centre, or  even online, in a host of other programs. The good thing is you can choose a teaching method that suits your availability.

Clarity rather than clutter

It is easy to think about graphic design as purely an artistic skill, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although the best designs are visually appealing, they should always serve a practical purpose. Even the most beautiful application or website is useless if the design doesn’t take into account the user’s needs. In fact, most businesses would probably prefer a practical, but ugly design to a useless, pretty one if given the choice.

Of course, in an ideal world you’ll be able to merge usability and beauty in your design and often the best way to achieve this is to focus on clarity. You may have loads of design ideas, but resist the temptation to include them all. A bit of blank space here and there lets your design breath and lets the audience take in what it is that they are viewing. With too much going on, it can be difficult to pick out the most important features and users are likely to be overwhelmed. 

There’s no one size-fits-all design

Before you even start coming up with design ideas, take a moment to think carefully about what you are doing. You may have had a fantastic idea rattling around in your head for weeks now and be desperate to bring it to life, but is it right for this particular client and project?

There is no one-size-fits-all design, so your first step should be to carry out some research about your latest project and clarify the client’s instructions. Once you have all the information you need, it is then – and only then – that you should start coming up with your design ideas.

Colour is your friend, but use it wisely

Adding bright colours to your designs is a great way of catching your audience’s attention, but the use of a blank space should not be neglected. In addition, think about how your background is working with the more prominent features of your design. Subdued pictures work wonderfully in the background, but make sure they do not interfere with anything in the foreground. Also, if you are working for a client, ask them if there are particularly colours that they want to emphasises, perhaps those that are connected to their brand.

Use emphasis sparingly

If you embolden every line of text as part of your graphic design it doesn’t really leave you with anywhere to go. Instead, employ a lot more subtlety and finesse in your projects and use emphasis sparingly. By leaving capitalising, emboldening and underlining to a minimum, it has a much more powerful effect when it is used.

Get away from your screen

If you are struggling to come up with any amazing design ideas, perhaps the best thing to do would be to get away from your screen. A break can be just what’s required to refresh the creative juices, so don’t be tempted to slog away when things aren’t going well – inspiration doesn’t work like that. Instead, going for a walk or chatting with your colleagues could be just what you need to push you towards your next big design success.

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About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.

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