What it is, what you need to know, and how to become a digital designer.
We explain the main thing about digital design in an accessible and fast way, in flashcards and with understandable examples.
What is digital design?
Digital translates as “digital.” So, digital design is the work on the design of the digital space: the creation of such images and graphic elements that exist only in digital form.
Thanks to a digital design, websites, applications, web services, instant messengers, videos, and email newsletters look aesthetically pleasing and convey the necessary information to the audience.
If there is digital, then there is also analog design.
The design created for physical products and media can be considered analog. This can be called graphic design for street banners, product packaging, and magazines.
In whatever medium design may be – on the screen or paper – it has a task: to convey information, to attract or repel, to induce action, or create an impression. And the difference between digital and analog will only be that they partially use different channels and tools: for example, analog has polygraphy, and digital has short clips of several pictures.
Are digital design and computer graphics the same thing?
Computer graphics also exist only in digital form, and they are created exclusively with digital tools.
But “digital design” and “computer graphics” do not mean the same thing. The difference between them is in the nuances: the first refers more to communication design, that is, to the creation and development of a visual language in which a brand, company, or person communicates with the user, attracts his attention, and encourages interaction. And computer graphics, or CG, is primarily the creative visualization of the non-existent and the processing of images and videos. They work with her in cinema, game development, and motion design.
What do digital designers do?
Digital designers work only with digital products and projects. They can do one thing – for example, only the design of social networks – or call themselves multidisciplinary, that is, generalists.
The most common tasks that digital designers solve are:
- website and landing page design;
- UI design – design and rendering of navigation elements, buttons, and forms on websites and applications;
- creating presentations – moreover, for screens, and not in printed format;
- designing individual images or a whole visual style for social networks – for example, post templates, covers, and intros for YouTube videos;
- Digital advertising design – usual banners and small format creatives.
What are the trends in digital design?
In digital, there are several major professions:
- Interface Designers or UX/UI Designers. Their task is to make the site or application less attractive than convenient, understandable for the user, and, as a result, effective.
- Web Designers. They come up with the structure and design of sites.
- Communication Designers. They work with images, texts, and animations, so the target audience learns about the product or service. And for people to take the necessary action: read articles in the mailing list, follow the link to the store, and memorize the new packaging design.
- Graphic Designers. Identities, logos, posters, and fonts are just a few of the digital “things” graphics work with using colors, shapes, and visual metaphors.
- Motion designers. They are engaged in animating images of different scales: from the icon in the application and the picture on the website to movies and interactive elements in the game.
All these specialists are engaged in different tasks and use different tools, but they have something in common. Any digital designer does not just fantasize and draw bright pictures. It creates a visual environment that helps viewers and users, attracts their attention, or stimulates them to take targeted action.
What should a digital designer be able to do?
The basic skills required in digital are the same as in any other design: the ability to translate words and emotions into visual images, the ability to determine the needs of users, visualization, and aesthetic intelligence. In addition, you need to be proficient in graphic editors and programs: the basis is Adobe tools, additionally Procreate for drawing, Figma for website prototype design, Blender for 3D, and so on.
And depending on the specialization, different hard skills may be required. Here are some examples:
- A UX/UI designer must be able to research the audience, think through, and test hypotheses.
- Communications designer – create a design that effectively communicates brand messages through multiple formats.
- Web designer – designs a user-friendly and attractive interface and works with typography.
But drawing beautifully is not a strictly required skill in digital. Art education provides a theoretical basis and helps to solve some problems faster, but only some jobs will need the ability to draw a landscape.
Where do digital designers work?
There are three main formats of work:
- in a design studio or marketing agency;
- employed by a non-design company that needs digital design.
In any case, digital designers always work with customers. Either external, who hire an individual designer or a team of specialists for a project, or internal, that is, colleagues from the marketing department or developers.
At the same time, the topic of work can be any: design in the digital environment is needed by banks, bakeries, music bands, metallurgical companies, and textile stores on marketplaces.