Great design plays a critical role in driving advertising and has the power to make us fall in love with brands. With their work being vital to the success of a business, graphic designers don’t get a second chance at making a great first impression on a new client. To keep up — and to stand out, they have to utilise the most popular design software in their repertoire.
Brand identity and design go hand in hand, and in this digital day and age, they can’t exist without the use of design and computer software. Whether you’re an experienced graphic designer or just dipping your toes in new but fascinating terrain, you’ll have to get incredibly familiar with the software you’re using to excel at your job.
There are three responses to a piece of design — yes, no and WOW!
Wow is the one to aim for!” – Milton Glaser
Why Do You Need To Close Digital Skill Gaps?
Digital skills are equally sought after by employers when it comes to recruiting new workers. In particular, computer skills have been one of the top 10 most frequently requested skills in internet job postings across different industries and occupations from 2014 to 2017, as stated by a National Industry Insights report on digital skills in the Australian workforce.
Australian businesses’ success is highly dependent on the skills of their workforce. As technology continues to change what businesses do and how they operate, so too does it affect the skills in demand. While it is hard to predict which skills will be most sought after in the future, we know employers are looking for workers who have a combination of transferable digital and creative, communication and problem-solving skills.
As a consequence, more than 90% of Australians will need to use some level of digital skills at work within the next five years. According to Australia’s Tech Future report issued by the Australian Government, some of the jobs Australians have relied on for decades, will be transformed by this change in demand.
If this teaches you anything, then hopefully it’s how important it is for you to close creative and digital skill gaps and understand all of the ins and outs of the software you are using as a designer. There are hundreds of programs out there that professionals use for various tasks. To spare you from having to test them all yourself, we checked in with our designers, who have delivered tons of outstanding projects for our clients and are able to give you an exclusive insight in their day-to-day operations.
These are our designers’ top 5 creative programs that they can’t live without — and soon enough you’ll learn to love them too. For cool tools that really do work, continue reading!
The Graphic Design Tools To Create Beautiful Work
A design and prototype tool used for the effective collaboration between designer, developer and client. Figma allows designers to edit, share and comment in real-time, and runs directly in your web browser, just like Google Docs for design creatives. Signing up for an account is free and takes only seconds. The onboarding process is equally easy and fast. You can import files or start creating and collaborating within Figma almost instantly.
The design software is free of charge for up to two editors and three projects and then available for an affordable $12/month. As a very promising graphic design tool, Figma is making workflows more efficient while giving designers more creative freedom. It is built with the benefits of great cloud software, giving you access to important files from anywhere, anytime.
Our designers love Figma not only for its efficiency but for features no other design software has to offer: A modern pen tool makes design for the web easy, and smart solutions, like automated adjustments, give them more creative freedom. If you haven’t tried Figma yet, this is your time!
2. Adobe Illustrator
Simply put, Adobe Illustrator is the vector version of Photoshop. The two share many functions and tools, which helps creatives who are using both. Illustrator is mainly used for creating and editing graphics for websites, video games, logos or print and online media.
Adobe is the industry standard for creating professional creative material and most designers will use Adobe programs for their work. This circumstance makes collaborating a lot easier.
As part of the Adobe creative cloud, Illustrator is not the cheapest of design tools on the market and the cost may be an issue for occasional users. Expect to pay $30/month for the single app, or $115 in a bundle with all Adobe apps.
The Illustrator app uses vectors instead of pixels. Everything our designers create in Adobe Illustrator is made out of paths and anchor points that make designs scalable to any size with no loss of quality. Which is great if you’d like to put a logo created for a business card on a billboard. Another perk? This graphic design software works on any computer system and comes with ready-made presets making it easier to access for beginners.
Photoshop is a complex image-manipulating and design app used by our graphic designers to apply effects and edit images. Most professional photographers will use Photoshop to edit stunning pictures and create digital masterpieces — even in 3D. Photoshop is designed to edit images in multiple layers and masks. This allows you to not only correct or alter exposure, colour and tone, but it enables you to combine images and effects whilst also adding artistic or paragraph text.
With its latest update, Photoshop now features a content-aware fill tool, live blend mode preview, and easy-to-use masking options. The pricing model is similar to Illustrator, with the app only being available through Adobe’s creative cloud subscription model. If you’d like to test it today, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial here.
4. inVision Studio
InVision is a prototyping tool created for designers, allowing you to create interactive mockups for your designs. When you’re ready, you can share these mockups with your team or clients. It makes bringing your ideas to life a breeze. And you know how important it is to present your work in a professional manner, both for your clients’ understanding of your work and their ability to give you feedback.
Mobile mockups are one of our favourite inVision features. What a better way to visualize a mobile app than to interact with it on your phone? Recently, inVision released another feature: Live Share, a real-time collaboration mode for you and the rest of your team. In Live Share, every participator gets their own mouse, so you can easily see what the other is talking about.
In the short time our designers have been using the app, they learned to appreciate each and every feature. So much, that they can’t imagine life without inVision. If you’re ready to go and give it a try, the app can be yours for $15/month for the starter pack.
5. After Effects
Adobe After Effects is an animation and creative compositing app designed for animators and designers and considered standard in the video industry. Our team uses this design tool for creating motion graphics and visual effects for film, video, and web. It allows them to remove objects from video clips, applying animation to texts or add motion to objects like logos. There is really nothing After Effects cannot do — as long as you have the know-how (and for everything else, there are tutorials).
And After Effects is always getting better, with new features rolling out regularly. Create VR Environment, for example, allows users to build virtual reality environments and view footage as it is seen with a VR headset. Like all other Adobe products, After Effects is available for $29.99/month on the monthly plan or for $239.88/year on a prepaid annual plan.
Bonus entry: Milanote
Milanote is a visual project management platform designed for people within creative industries to help them plan, conceptualise their ideas and share them with other team members. There are a lot of really great project management platforms out there that work well, but what sets Milanote apart is the highly visual and customisable layout that lets you present material in a way that lets you get a clearer picture of the final result. You can display your overall project from brief, to moodboard, to scheduling. Graphic designers can pin screenshots, images, and links for later reference all in one place and in front of their eyes. Overall, it just looks aesthetic, neat and well presented. Currently, Milanote lets you make up to 100 notes (including images and links) for free; however, if that’s too limiting, an account with Milanote is $9.99 a month per person if paid annually or $12.50 paid on a month-to-month basis.
You Only Stop Growing, If You Stop Working
Creative industries are essential to our future economy and for creatives, the path to success looks different almost every time. But there is one thing they all have in common: only practice makes perfect. It requires you to repeatedly step out of your comfort zone and sometimes, to draw outside the lines. The effort will be rewarded: designers are ever-important in the professional world for all types of industries. The numbers speak for themselves. Employment in digital industries has more than doubled in the past 30 years.
There has been a huge increase in what are termed “non-routine cognitive jobs” which occur in fields such as education, healthcare, professional services, arts, and design. According to a paper issued by the Australian Department of Communications and Arts, the employment in creative occupations grew at around double the rate of other occupations during 2011-16 and is likely to continue being an important part of future job growth.
Creative skills such as graphic or web design, require original thought and contribute to industries that experience a high amount of innovation, such as the media and communications sector and recreational services. Creative skills will face increasingly higher demand and are to become more and more important in all aspects of a business.
Design is an ever-evolving, exciting sector. Make sure you’re always on top of new developments and keep upskilling. Continuing to improve your digital skills will give you a competitive advantage in the workforce. So set yourself up for long-term success and commit to life-long learning. If you’d like to see what’s possible, check out the previous work our designers have achieved using these design software solutions!