Most important skills?

What are the most important skills you have learned as a Designer?
• Print design?
• UI?
• UX?
• Layout?
• Color theory?

What would you like to learn and what are some sites, paid or free, that you use to enhance/expand your skillset? What do you think will be useful as the years go on and the world becomes more digital?

Most important for me is listening to peers while designing. Although each design I create is my baby, I’ve learned to listen to others about where I can expand, cut back, or leave as is on projects, as I am not the only one that will be seeing them!

I’d love to learn more Web Design as well as Python. I hear that’s the “code of the future”, like what google is created with.

It depends on what you do for a living in the world of design.
For instance, In my world, web stuff is totally unnecessary whereas knowledge of interpretive and experiential design is. I need to be able to work with drafting programs where a web designer does not.

One of the most important skills a designer needs to develop is to view your art as a commodity, not your first born. You may have meant it differently in your post, but far too many designers see their work as personal artistic effort when it should be nothing more than a means to your client’s end.


The most important skills answer changes depending on what you are after. If you are after money, it’s whatever is the most lucrative. If you are after personal job satisfaction, it’s whatever is the most fulfilling. If you are after changing the world, it’s the most productive.

In the list you’ve provided, I’d say that HTML & CSS is probably the most lucrative in a big city. In a small town in the middle of nowhere, print would probably get you further.

Color theory sounds like the kind of skill that would provide more personal job satisfaction for an artsy type. UX/UI would probably provide more personal satisfaction to a nerdy type.

For a politically motivated type like myself, I would say layout is the most productive, more specifically in the form of infographics. I haven’t had as much success in this area as I’d like to, but I think it’s the key to changing the world for the better.


I’d say the most often overlooked skill I notice is communication. Of course we’re all in the communication business and we all know that our design-product must communicate the requisite message(s), but that’s not what I mean. I’m referring to effective business communication, which these days happens more in written form than verbal, and many who engage are quickly exposed as very weak in the areas of reading and writing. I consider myself a reasonably effective writer—at least adequate in most cases—and it astounds me how often clients, printers, and other contacts will come back with questions that were already answered for anyone who read and comprehended earlier correspondence among us.

Pay attention to what you read; don’t let your “muscle memory” take over the task. Read slowly and do it twice. When you write, be detailed but concise. Brush up on grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, etc. Before hitting Send, read what you wrote back to yourself as though you are the recipient. The amount of time wasted due to poor communication on either end of an exchange is expensive, and may carry catastrophic potential.

Verbal communication is important too of course, so be sure anyone you’re addressing isn’t missing the context; don’t treat it as though they have heard your thoughts or know your experience. Listen carefully and don’t assume anything. Ask questions.


I think the most important thing is learning the foundations and fundamentals of design and how to be successful at it.
Developing an eye for what works and doesn’t work is something I am learning. When I see someones design, I can see when something looks off, but being able to quickly point these out and find solutions is what I want to improve on.


These are both good points about broad and general skills. Broad and general skills are applied in the more specific skills that the OP listed.

What I think is most important and really sets designers apart is:

  • understanding the purpose behind the design and understanding how to convey that, and
  • attention to detail.

Soooo many designers, mostly those starting out, lack the attention to detail, whether it’s proper typographic symbols or checking bleeds on print files.


The most important thing you should take away from design school are the design principles and theory. Technology for web and print change, but the ability to spot a good design or know how/why something works or doesn’t is invaluable.

It sounds as if you’re looking to learn web design and code, so I’d suggest to start looking at some job listings for “full stack developer” or “front end developer,” which is a combination of web designer with coding skills. Just go to a job board and look up the required skills. The only way to find the answer to your question is to find the title of the job you want to get.

Also, be weary about anyone that promotes the next wave of the future. Every time technology forces a change, the workforce needs to catch up to it. I’d suggest look at what people are requiring as part of the job and focus on those skills first, but always be learning the next best thing in your free time.

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No wonder we get along. :slight_smile:

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Draw something, anything, every single day. Even if it only takes 5 minutes. Anything you can draw you will be able to recreate digitally, but sketching is by far the fastest way to work through thumbnail ideas.

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Ideas and typography – and a basic understanding of psychology and human perception. How people tick is fairly important, as it is they you are looking to communicate with.

Without an understanding of these things you will,never become anything but a technical expert.

I just had a discussion about this with someone the other day. If I was to go back to my college days I would definitely double major in design + english/comms. Proper grammar/communication is so often overlooked these days and I constantly catch myself making these errors; definitely why I do my best to read at least an hour a day since we stare at the screen for hours on end. Keeps memory, visualization and my grammar skills up to speed.

occasionally that happens to me. I ended up writing down a little checklist I keep next to my computer to make sure that :poop: does not go unnoticed haha


Definitely something that im taking to practice more. 90% of the time im going straight illustrator or photoshop and takes much longer trying to get those ideas down. Im slowly learning haha

I agree.

Don’t get me started on this one. I can’t rant for Britain on this one.

Of course we all make mistakes – I’m bound to find a monster in this post about 10 seconds after I can no longer edit it. However, mistakes are not the issue. Professionally, that’s what proof-reading is for.

I hate to be an old fart about all this, but I think years of underfunding in education has led to a situation where the blind are leading the blind. I know 30-year olds with kids who can’t string a sentence together, let alone spell one. It’s shameful and saddening. Without at least a basic command of grammar, spelling and syntax, you loose the subtlety and beauty of language. If human beings are unable to express themselves beyond the emoji, we are truly buggered as a civilised species. No more Heaney. No more Shakespeare. No more Orwell, Baldwin, Lessing. Moreover, no one to read them.

I know that sounds melodramatic, but it’s headed that way. If you have parents who have no books or music or art in their house, only Netflix and Nintendo, what hope?

Anyway, I digress…

So, in short, yes, I agree entirely; language – and a love and understanding of it – is necessary to being both a designer and a rounded human being.


As a Designer especially web designer, you must have skills in HTML & CSS and they’re
very crucial for layout design. Color theory is also related to CSS, and CSS helps to fix color problem. To learn Html and CSS, there are free tutorials online and many websites dealing with useful coding systems. One of them is w3schools(DOT)com.

I love C# .Net coding and Codeproject(DOT)com is best for it.

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That’s great! It’s always good to document your processes.

In my (humble) opinion, the single most important skill for any artist of any kind is an ability to draw.

Years ago a friend and artist whom I respected then and still respect now told me what his father told him, “Draw something, anything, every single day.” It can be a five minute sketch or a 1/2 hour still-life or a friggin’ tree. But if you are not getting better, you are getting worse.

His father has a painting hanging in the White House btw.

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