Nowadays, clients that outsource design projects always expect a designer to be a bundle of talents and be capable of handling any design job, irrespective of the project. Some customers have been known to ask designers if they could write code, illustration or if they were experts at marketing. This has been a subject of discussion in various design forums as to what skills designers are expected to have to meet clients’ expectations and demands.
Aside from skills like paying attention to details, possessing exceptional communication skills as well as offering excellent services to customers, these eight skills are expected of you as a designer if you want to stay relevant in this industry for a long time to come:
1. Soundness of Design Theory
No client will touch a designer who doesn’t know his onions with a ten-foot pole. As a designer, you are expected to be full of sound knowledge in design theory which covers aspects such as the use of colors, space, typography, etc. Clients will naturally trust any designer who is grounded in theory of design and will respect any decision such a designer makes regarding their design project. When you reinforce this concept by explaining in layman’s term the rudiments and logic that pertain to their project, you will be on your way to building a solid client/designer relationship.
2. Have a Sound Knowledge of HTML
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is synonymous to coding. You must know a bit of HTML if you want to distinguish yourself from other designers. Not every designer considers knowing how to code as imperative, and this is something that some clients will expect you to know when they contact you. It doesn’t matter if you are not thoroughly grounded in the subject; a passing knowledge of HTML will distinguish you from the crowd and will endear you to any client who desires one or two advice regarding their work. Knowing the basics of code enables you to produce demo samples or sites which you have worked on and gives you a better position to sell your services compared to designers who don’t know diddlysquat about coding. But then, you must let your clients know that you are not a web developer and therefore, should not expect you to know the nitty-gritty of that world.
3. Time Management
One of the skills that clients expect you to have is the ability to manage time effectively. This means you should be able to meet their deadlines without compromising quality. They believe that you should be able to know how to stay in control when it comes to your schedule and design projects as well as being able to prioritize their assigned work. In the busy world of design, you need to be able to track your work and use tools that enhance productivity.
4. Ability to Use Design Software
Well, duh! If you don’t know how to use the essential tools of the trade as a designer, well, then you need to find yourself another job or field. Knowing Sketch and Adobe Photoshop should be second nature to a designer that is worth his salt. In fact, if you want to be head and shoulders above other designers, then you need to learn and know Adobe InDesign as well as Illustrator. You can even kick it up a notch by learning other specific design programs such as mockups, font designs, wireframes, etc.
5. Social media and marketing
Most clients expect designers to know a whole lot about social media as well as marketing. They expect that since they probably found you online or via a recommendation by a friend, you should, as a designer, be able to handle marketing strategies as well as have in-depth knowledge on how to use social media for profiting. Social media has come a long way, and is proving to be a force to reckon with when it comes to online sales. Therefore, design clients believe that designers should be able to help them draw out marketing strategies that will make them (the clients) able to sell more of their products and services on the internet.
6. Research your clients
Another skill that clients expect designers to have is the ability to ask questions. Even though your clients know that designers can’t possibly know more about their businesses more than they do, they still expect designers to carry out research concerning their business. Clients believe that designers should ask the right questions, especially before embarking on a new design project. They expect to be asked questions about their business goals, history and strategies about how they could beat their business competitors, etc.
7. Spacing and Flow
Clients expect you to know your craft as a designer. This includes knowing how to use spacing and how it relates to enhanced user experience; knowing how important spacing is when it comes to creating distances between elements, etc. When adequate spacing is done between elements, users will enjoy proper flow when it comes to navigating from one page to another on client’s websites and appreciate the use of shapes, colors and depth.
8. Web Design
Some clients approach designers with a seemingly simple task of converting brochures to websites or pepping up an old site with the latest bells and whistles that are everywhere on the internet. This is often, in most cases, impossible to achieve. You must, therefore, go to great lengths to explain how web design works and the intricacies involved in a layman’s language. Let them know that web design is a whole new ballgame and must be treated with utmost respect and care.
A designer needs to learn how to manage the expectations of clients effectively. Good communication is essential when it comes to getting on the same page with your client when starting new projects. Be open and sincere about your skill set so that your client will know what to expect and what not to expect from you.