What is a Graphic Designer?

Most people have heard of a graphic designer, but not everyone knows what they actually do. Along the lines of a typical designer, they focus on the artistic side of the website rather than the analytical and technical side of things.

Job Description

Graphic designers use artistic effects to share the message from the client. They create anything from logos to product packaging to websites. In this case, we will be looking at work of graphic designers on websites.

The overall design of a website is the job of a graphic designer. The graphic designer handles the composition and layout of the website.  There are a lot of little details and responsibilities that the graphic designer takes care of.

They must take into consideration what is being presented, and create the perfect design to represent it. The art we see on the website, the typography, the logo, and the styling of the site is the graphic designer’s job.

The graphic designer works with a team of different creative and technical specialists to create the overall look. Some of these people could be copywriters, photographers, illustrators, and other specialists. The design must cooperate and fit appropriately within the vision of the team.


What does a Graphic Designer really do?

A graphic designer follows the lead of the client. Your customer will give you a job or project with a general idea of what they want. It is your job (and your team’s job) to complete the task and on time nonetheless.

You begin with producing concepts or mockups that should fit the client’s needs. Then you quickly redefine your initial design while still contributing new concepts to the design. And remember, there will be a deadline and a budget. If someone asks for a logo with the color purple and in comic sans font, you should deliver that concept. 

You should know at least the basics of web design and web programming (such as HTML, CSS, etc.). Knowing how to do HTML and CSS coding work will help you create web designs that are "web-friendly". Meaning, the programmers won't want to kill you for creating a design that is too hard or impossible to program.

Along with this, you should keep up with the newest trends and technology so you can produce the highest quality product.

Often times graphic designers will sketch out their ideas and layouts by hand before the actual web mockups. This makes it easier to test design directions without wasting time on fully fleshing out a completed design that may get rejected. It also creates a prototype that is easy for the clients to edit and analyze.

You will need a "thick skin" because sometimes your designs will get rejected. Not because you're a bad designer, but because it's not exactly what the client wanted. Design is subjective to peoples tastes so it's a hard job sometimes when a client doesn't know exactly what they want to see. Don't take criticism personally. It's feedback. Change the design, resubmit it, and repeat until they are happy. Then move on and forget.

And lastly, graphic designers must be able to communicate clearly and concisely with the team and client. You are not “in charge” but rather a working equal with the rest of them. Your design does not trump theirs, but rather contributes to it. 


How to become a Graphic Designer

As with most web design jobs, you don’t need a college degree to be successful. Of course, a degree never hurts. In fact, having a degree may increase your chances of getting a job or even getting a higher pay. But, what really sets anyone apart, is their skill. You don’t need a college degree to be able to create a beautiful website.

What you do need to do if you don’t get your degree is learn everything you can about graphic design. This includes Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Then some web programming skills too, like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and jQuery. 

You can learn some of these skills at the websites below:

You should get any experience you can. You can do this by making your own website, freelancing, and then build a portfolio from these projects. 


Design. Design. Design some more. 

Try finding a well-designed website and reproduce it in Photoshop. This will give you insight into design techniques and allow you to see the details that go into a web design.

You can also try redesigning some poorly designed websites. 

You could design an iPhone app, join Startup Weekend and be a designer for them. Or you could even join a nonprofit and try to design something for them. Really, anything you can think of, you should try! Below I have included some links to freelance websites that can help you gain experience.


What is the for a Graphic Designer?

According to payscale.com, the average graphic designer earns about $42,000. With that being said, you can earn anywhere from $27,000 all the way to $66,000. Of course, the more you are paid, the more experience you probably have.


What Software does a Graphic Designer use?

You'll find that most Graphic Designers use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Sure there are lots of other graphic design software packages, but Adobe has the stranglehold on the market. Most design shops require Photoshop chops to enter the door.

If you're MAC-based, then Sketch is an up-and-coming design program that a lot of newer designer are adopting into their toolkits.

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