Do you want to improve your design skills?

Are you doing enough to renew your skills as a designer? If your answer is no, the following tips should be of interest for you. If your answer is yes, these tips might still get you to think again. It is easy to get caught in the loop of doing the same thing forever.

ideas
Photo by karen horton

Look for some inspiration

Feeding yourself with design inspiration is a must for every designer. Following are a few ways to stay up-to-date with what’s happening.

school of design
Photo by jetalone

Go back to studying

Going back to school is quite hard when you’re on a day job, especially if you’re freelancing. This said, it can be interesting to go back in some evening school to pick up a course on calligraphy, programming or whatever skill you’d like to learn. The internet is also a good resource if your city or town doesn’t have university or schools.

  • Evening school
    Part time schools usually have a wide range of topics covered, so you should be able to learn something new there. The good thing about those is that you’ll get to listen to an expert and directly ask your questions. If you’re a freelancer, this is also a nice occasion to socialize and meet other people with similar interest. I won’t put any links here as it will depend on your location, but a good search should make it easy to find the available courses in your area.
  • Online courses
    As you know, the internet is full of free stuff, even college courses. If you are an autodidact at heart, take a look at Standford on iTunesMIT online courses or at the University of Washington. The Online Books Page is also a great reference, as well as… Google searches

design books
Photo by karen horton

Read some design books

While reading on the internet is a great way to learn, books have two great advantages: they put all the information in one place and they give you an in-depth view on a specific topic. Books in the following categories should cover your learning needs.

  • Graphic design & typography
    Apart from the inspiration books, many are very useful to learn more about graphic design theory. Color theory, grid systems or typography history are great topics and will definitly help you to improve your skills. If you don’t know what to read, you can start with those: “Grid Systems in Graphic Design“, “Typographie: A Manual of Design” or “Designing Books: Practice and Theory“.
  • Software
    You think that you already know all your Adobe softwares by heart? Think again, those softwares are huge and you’ll learn something from a good book for sure. You can also try to learn some new softwares like video editing tools or audio editing softwares, learning 3D might be a good idea too.
  • HTML, CSS & Webdesign
    You’ll be amazed to discover how many HTML tags you didn’t know of, CSS tricks you ignored and so on… Reading CSS: The Definitive Guide really helped me to get a better understanding of the possibilities of designing with CSS, just like Don’t Make me Think by Steve Krug.

tuts plus screenshot

Learn some new techniques with tutorials

Tutorials are amazing, they allow you to learn skills one by one. The Tuts+ network by Envato should be a good place to get started, they cover pretty much anything design-related: Photoshop, Illustrator, webdesign,… Many Digg-likes are also dedicated to tutorials like PixelGroovy.

slideology
Photo by whiteafrican

Attend conferences or watch them online

Successful and creative people talk about the topics they’re experts in, so you better listen to them. Changing your views on design, or simply on the world itself, is a great way not to keep on doing the same things over and over. While attending the conferences is good for networking, it is also very expensive most of the time and often taking place too far. That’s why it’s so good to have the internet and be able to watch those speeches online.

  • TED
    “Ideas worth spreading”, TED’s website tells it like it is. Many great designers have been hosted as speakers at TED, so you should take a look.
  • AIGA
    Apart from organizing conferences, AIGA also releases videos of the events. Many of those talks are truly inspiring and make you want to move forward.
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