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10 Stuggles Only Designers Would Understand

10 Stuggles Only Designers Would Understand

Working as a designer isn’t as glorified as many of us like to make it out to be. Sure we sit behind our fancy computer setups with huge screens, sketching ‘pretty pictures’ in our Moleskin notebooks and can enjoy the perks of being location independent, but working in design can also be one of the most stressful, involving and cutting edge jobs out there. Here are 10 struggles all designers could absolutely relate to.

1. You constantly keep an eye on new software and design trends

Your education actually starts when you graduate from college as the design world revolves pretty fast. You have recently learned to adapt your app designs for IPhone 6, but everyone is now in frenzy for creating Apple Watch apps and UI design has an absolutely different set of rules to follow. You have two choices – learn and adapt or starve.

If you are lucky, your company will invest in your education and pay for some classes. For instance, Intellectsoft web development company offers their creative staff one new professional course per year. DDB Canada advertising agency offers every employee $250 to buy something that fuels creativity.

If you are freelance – well, you are on your own to struggle with getting new skills and continuing your schooling. Certainly, there are free design courses out there, but they are rarely offering advanced training, so you’ll have to invest into your own education.

2. You always need to figure out what exactly your client wants

Once again, you have this letter landing in your inbox saying “I want a new cool new design for my business.”

Great, you think, but what exactly do you mean by “cool new design” Is it just a website or do you need an identity established (i.e. logo, business cards, website, etc.)? Or a product design? Or just some covers for your social media profiles? Do you already have established business identity colors or do you need me to do everything from scratch?

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The biggest nightmare of any designer is taking the work, spending numerous hours working to afterwards here something like, “Meh…I don’t really like it.” Baffled you ask, “Is it the color scheme? Is it the layout? Is it the typography?” You just hear again, “I just don’t like it. You know, make it some other way.” And at that point you know you’ll have to start it all over again, proposing to the client more and more options of what you can possibly do.

Being a designer means having a great intuition and constantly second-guessing what your clients needs. You have to be a great listener as well and catch all bits of information your clients drop about their aesthetic preferences.

3. You find it awkward to explain the client that his current design. . .sucks

You’ve been trained to create easy-to-use, crispy clean websites that are easy-to-use. The clients that come to you obviously were not, yet they care about their business and it’s often hard for them to admit that their current appearance really sucks.

When you get approached by someone asking for a small design job, say new banner design, and you see that the whole website needs a complete revamp, as one banner definitely won’t make sales higher or users happier, you face a moral dilemma – tell the truth or just make that banner and don’t bother. It feels nearly as awkward as to tell a girl you like that she looks fat in that dress she’s wearing tonight.

If you are a true professional you need to carefully select words and suggest improvements to clients without being too imposing or arrogant. Instead of taking the “I know it better” approach, try to make mild suggestions first like: “Did you know that if you fix your check out, your sales may rise up to 20%?”

4. You prefer to work with one person, rather than a board

Your ideal client is is a one-person operation. He knows your ideas actually bring results, he loves your style, you get along perfectly well and work goes fast and smooth. Add a partner in tow, and the difficulty doubles. Add more people, and the difficulties expand exponentially.

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One person who hired you loves what you did, the other doesn’t like the layout or the logo. Someone else thinks you should use different fonts everywhere. One “can’t put a finger on it, but there’s definitely something wrong there.” Another believes that red color would bring the business bad luck.

But there’s also a flip-side: working with/for a big company with multiple decision makers typically brings in more money. So you have to choose whether you are ready to go through numerous circles of criticism or settle for a lower paycheck.

5. You will have to deal with a lot of “opinions” and critics

As a designer you have public profiles on Behance, Dribbble, a personal website showcasing your work, active Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook profiles where you also share your latest masterpieces.

You’ve poured your heart, soul and sweat into these projects for weeks and then see some pesky comment from Mr. Anonymous saying you’ve copied designer X, or that’s just some amateurish illustration a 5-year old kid could draw better. You learned not to take those people close to heart, but still, it hurts when you are getting poor feedback for nothing.

6. You can’t stand ugly fonts

You can walk into a cafe, see that their menu’s written in Comic Sans, stand up and leave, even though it’s one of the best new places in town. The easiest way to piss you off is to give you a typography poster with four different fonts mixed up together! You won’t read sites online with terrible fonts and you won’t buy books with inappropriate spacing. Beautiful clear fonts become your ideal.

7. You are often undercharging

“How much should I charge?” is one of the most frequently asked questions in the designer community, and with good reason—it’s a tough nut to crack.

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Sadly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You know that hourly rates can mess with your efficiency and can have the client question why you have spent 5 hours designing a single leaflet. Fixed-price projects are hard to correctly calculate at the initial stage if we are talking of a full website development+logo+business cards+whatever else.

You often charge big companies the same rate you offer to small businesses, while you could definitely make more from the first one as they have budgets.

You often quote a lower price to realize later on you’ve been doing some work for peanuts. And again, it often seems uncomfortable to ask the client for extra pay when you are half-through the job.

Also, you constantly face a dilemma for when you should ask to get paid – after the job is done, before, in milestones after each stage completed. Negotiating that with a client can become one huge frustration.

8. You have to tone down your creativeness

Your client needs just one banner design, not a hand-drawn illustration that vaguely represents some concept behind his business. As a designer, you often need to keep your creative juices to yourself and don’t let them overtake the client’s objective. Leave those boldest art ideas for some personal art.

9. You need to have super effective communication skills

These days designers are as much creatives as sales people.

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You wish your clients could actually peek inside your head and see with your eyes what exactly you are proposing to them, but sadly all you have to use is your words. At the end of the day if you can’t talk about and explain your design in details, it may never see the light of day.

You need to be able to stand up for your ideas, explain your concepts and point out why they could work miracles for the business.

10. You either love design, or leave it

With all the struggles mentioned above, weird working hours, questioning your creativity and facing blocks, you need to have a true passion for art and design if you’d like to succeed in the field.

If you don’t love what you do, you will likely get burned out soon. An optimistic attitude and a true love for conveying powerful messages through a visual medium and bringing in more beauty in the world will help you stay focused on your career and become a top professional everyone admire (even the harshest critics).

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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

1. Cloud Computing

“Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

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2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

3. Data Management

All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

4. Scheduling

Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

5. Financial Skills

These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

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6. Research Skills

These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

7. Marketing Skills

While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

8. Network Security Specialist

Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

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9. Communication Skills

At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

10. Computer Programming

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

11. Graphic Design

As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

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This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

The Bottom Line

We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
[2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

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