Hiring Designers: Diverse Experience Matters More than Education

Hiring Designers: Diverse Experience Matters More than Education


In this intensely digital age, graphic designers need to provide a competitive advantage to their employers in order to be worth their investment for the long haul. Likewise, it’s important for employers to consider more variables than simply design education and a pretty portfolio when hiring a new member for their design team. There are many different, sometimes seemingly unrelated, life and business experiences that diversify and enhance a designer’s ability to create effective, dynamic designs. These experiences can mold and shape the designer’s taste, design style, market understanding, and so much more.

Some of the most spectacular designers may not be found with an extensive or expensive education, but instead, they may have a diverse work or hobby background. Before hiring a designer, hiring professionals should take a moment to ask what their most important business outcomes are. By identifying these overarching goals, they can then identify the designer with the proper skills and diverse background to get them accomplished. Marketing and design is the forward face of a brand; it’s what tells the story of your company and can get your prospects to take the appropriate action you desire.

There are a few key areas that can help elevate your business most through careful consideration and design. Namely, in telling a brand’s story effectively and generating the leads needed to grow your business.

In our experience, here are a few of the diverse background aspects to be on the lookout for in your next designer’s resume:

Brand Development: Everyone loves a good story. In this new, digital age, it’s never been more important for growing companies to get their story out in both a written and visual manners. In finding the designers with the skills to do portray the story properly, sometimes it can take a different kind of mind. One with the ability to tell a story of their own for instance, or one who loves the thrill of being artistic and creative in a different manner.

  • Authors/Creative Writers – Authors and creative writers already know how to story tell and get their message into words. They understand a story’s importance and feel the weight of getting it right. Having a designer who writes can be an invaluable asset to your design team, when branding is crucial to your success.
  • Artists – Graphic designers who are also artists in a different medium can have a unique way of not only designing, but looking at a problem’s multiple solutions. Sometimes, when a person is caught up in only one form of being creative, they can get tunnel vision, which in turn disables them from living up to their full potential as designers. Remaining open and playful is a great way not only to stumble upon a new way to look at things, but also a unique and perhaps bolder way to design.
  • Crafters – Similar to artists, a designer who loves to get crafty with their hands can end up having more powerful designs that translate uniquely into their work. Maybe they utilize mixed media into their designs, translating into a truly original work for you and your company. By doing so, you’ve invested in an original branding identity that will transcend all other designs.
  • Typographers – Typography is truly an important component of branding. Believe it or not, there are designers out there who love the written word. Perhaps they design fonts, or do art simply by using letters. Whatever the way, typographers will offer a spectacular way to brand your company and make it stand out.
  • Calligraphers – This may be a dying art, but there are some phenomenal artists out there who use calligraphy as a way to scratch their creative itch. They will and can provide some truly elegant style and class to your designs – even if they don’t ever use their calligraphy skills for your work.

Lead Generation: Designers tell a visual story, but they also are enticing prospective clients and customers to do something specific. When you have a designer with a background in marketing, there’s often a deeper level of understanding which translates into their designs. Not only do they make a beautiful or visually interesting piece, but they are also effective, precise, relatable, understandable, and clear.

  • Marketers – A designer with a background and understanding in marketing can enhance the effectiveness of the designs they create for you and your company. This is partly because they’ll have an overarching idea of your strategy and how their pieces fit together with it, but also because they’ll know how to best incorporate your CTAs.
  • Copywriters – Having a copywriting background can elevate a design from good, to spectacular just by knowing how to choose words. This is particularly helpful for small businesses who can’t afford to hire a separate copywriter in addition to a designer. Through experience, your graphic designer can help direct and implement verbiage that will help generate leads.
  • Analytics – When your designer has the background to understand and utilize analytics, they can help you and your team A/B test different designs to be the most effective. This is also very helpful when it comes to designing for social media.
  • Social Media – A designer who understands the usefulness, special requirements, and fickleness that is social media can create a boon to your social media marketing efforts. Everyone knows social media can either be a wealth of potential clients, or it can fall flat, depending on the way it’s handled.

Web-Specific Lead Generation: Website design has many different variables and moving pieces. It’s one of the best ways to capture leads and convert them into customers. When done right, a website is a smooth user experience that seamlessly walks a user from introduction to your specific call to action (CTA). Each and every page can be a way to entice the user into becoming a part of your happy customer family when done the right way. In order to have this type of potency, a web designer well-versed in development, user interface, and even quality control can bring a deeper level of understanding and ease to the design aspect. What’s more, you don’t have to explain a lot of these pieces to them, as they already have a background, interest, and possible history incorporating all of this into their designs.

  • Development – In any technology field, having a background in development can offer some insight into what’s possible to create. Often times, designers have a grandiose idea, but when it comes down to the development side, it may not be possible. Having an interest, or experience in development can save you and your company money by not wasting time in other departments to determine whether or not something is possible.
  • User Experience – Understanding how the flow of a website or a visual design can, will, and should walk a potential customer through key points and directly to your CTA can be invaluable. Keep an eye out for your next design hire to see if they have user experience training and be amazed at how it improves your reach and effectiveness.
  • Quality Control – Sometimes, having a quality control mindset can fuss out problems before you even publish a website or print a design. Through understanding the steps people may take and knowing how to be thorough enough to check all the little details, your designer can save lots of time and money in their designs.

There are many ways a diverse background can set a design candidate apart, and help elevate their designs for the company they work for. Not all of them might show up on a resume, either, so sometimes it’s smart to intentionally ask if they have other interests not showing up in black and white. When vetted properly, a potentially new designer who has years of experience in other areas can be a much better investment over someone who’s simply been in graphic design for years.

– Artwork Abode

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