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Get ahead of the crowd with these basic design strategies

  • Published on February 26, 2014
Get ahead of the crowd with these basic design strategies

When people think of designers, in any capacity, images of highly skilled individuals stationed at powerful computers may come to mind. With every click of their mice, these idealized experts make beautiful images more stunning with high-tech programs, such as Final Cut Pro, Photoshop and Illustrator. While the kinds of visual magic that you find in well-crafted marketing campaigns or stretched across billboards are certainly the results of a professional hand, there's something to be said for how powerful just the basics of these tools can be in careers that might not necessarily seem very design-centric.

General overview of basic design needs
Consider how often you've had to design a cover letter or resume, for instance. Although these documents are typically very straightforward and to-the-point, some employers are beginning to look favorably upon applicants who can give them a link to an online equivalent instead of a paper version. Not only are these online resumes, which are often hosted in PDF form, a greener option, the basic Photoshop skills and InDesign skills that you can use to spruce them up a little look very impressive to potential employers. 

Simple design elements, such as a tasteful or subtle image, can set your resume apart from the untold hundreds that might be seen every day by hiring managers, and although you can just as easily list Adobe training in your list of credentials, it might have more of an impact if you demonstrate it instead. 

More businesses deploying websites
Tailoring images to fit the Internet is another skill that is gaining prestige, now that more businesses are beginning to recognize how important it is to have a strong online presence. Entrepreneur reported that even something as simple as typography, which is the shape and layout of the fonts that Web designers use in their finished products, is a key factor that goes into ensuring that sites are readable and worthwhile. In a business sense, this is crucial - people should be able to digest content easily, and if the text is off by just a little, consumers may be more inclined to bounce away from the site. 

How does this relate to the basics of design? The simple answer is that it's fundamental to the whole website experience. With a base knowledge of how images and text fit together, you'll be able to help guide employers through the arduous process of changing what their businesses look like online. Think about it this way - how many times have you stumbled across a website that was so garish and difficult to follow that you clicked away from it, simply because it wasn't instantly navigable? Knowing how to deftly avoid these kinds of situations can set you apart from your colleagues, no matter the industry. 

Entrepreneurs should know how to use Adobe apps
If you're trying to promote your own business, it could benefit you to prepare for how all of the above points might come to bear in your marketing techniques. As the world has become very digitally inclined, more often than not, consumers will take to the Web to find your brand if they liked your service in person. Although you can outsource Web design or follow an online template, these options are typically expensive. Fortunately, you don't have to be an expert to create something your customers will like. AdPushup reported that as long as you can take the needs of your online visitors into consideration before you begin work on a site, you'll probably be in better shape than your competitors. 

A basic understanding of leading design software, including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, can also help you see your ideas through. With just a few Adobe classes and basic InDesign classes, you'll be up and running in no time. 

About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics training along with workshops on digital marketing topics. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.