Communication design is the field in which information is strategically expressed through creative formats. The main role of a communication designer is to focus on the message behind the visuals and how the viewer engages with it, rather than freely express themselves artistically. To create effective products, they need to understand the psychology behind visual elements and how they can affect someone’s mood. It goes way beyond using words.
Colour, graphics, patterns, symbols, images, and typography are some of the tools a communication designer needs to master, as all of them have the power to communicate the tone and the intention of the message. With the advent of technology, people are increasingly exposed to information and less patient to consume it, which is making visual communication dominate the media. Therefore, communication design is a growing field that many companies, people, and institutions are seeking out.
Evolution of Communication Design as a field
The early forms of visual communication originated thousands of years ago with cave paintings people used to draw to communicate through generations. The emergence of a visual representation of the alphabet was the next big step. Later, the invention of printing and its further expansion during the industrial revolution started to forge a path for more commercial uses of design. The other accompanying influence came from art movements such as Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, Art Deco, and Pop Art. All of them provided a better understanding of how graphic elements can communicate differently depending on the style, the identity, and the intention of the design.
Communication design, however, was not strongly established as a career until the rise of technology. The internet transformed visual information into a much more accessible and sellable tool. Having good strategies of communication design became an important need of companies and advertisers. Due to the increasing development of technology and media, this demand will certainly perpetuate for a long time.
Career scope in Communication Design
Communication design is a field with several possible pathways. Perhaps the most popular one is advertising, which includes social media design, video production, copywriting, and others. Digital design is also a constant need nowadays, it is focused on the user experience, which makes companies able to sell more products by providing comfort and practicality to the consumer online. Another possibility is identity design and branding, which is to develop the visual identity of an organization—or even a person—so they can communicate clearly what their values and qualities are.
Although printing may seem an outdated practice, it is still largely used by magazines, newspapers, and book publishers, and it is also a path a communication designer can choose. Finally, motion graphics and 3-dimensional design are two other growing practices. Moreover, they are very related to some notions and skills architecture students are taught to acquire. The areas cover products such as exhibition design, signage systems, animation, and broadcast television graphics.
Qualifications and skill requirements
Regarding the qualifications needed to become a communication designer, the first step is to earn an undergraduate degree. Several schools offer a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Design, but it is also possible to pursue a career in the field while having a different degree if they are somehow related. It is important to have an artistic background and some communication knowledge. After obtaining a degree, it is necessary to focus on gaining experience. By assembling a good portfolio, a designer can attract clients and recruiters.
To evolve into a successful communication designer, some specific skills are also required. Perhaps the most important of them is to pay close attention to details. When creating a visual product, it is important to know that everything communicates something. If a designer is not careful, they can end up placing a visual element on the product that does not communicate the real intention of the message. Besides, it is indispensable to have a great repertoire. Therefore, a designer should have good research skills and know-how to filter the information in the examples and connect different ideas, which are skills required for fields such as architecture and interior design as well.
Top countries to work in as a Communication Designer
According to the website DesignRush, the top countries to work in as a designer are the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Due to the investments in digital innovation, the US is the country that offers the widest range of possibilities. The most promising of them are multimedia art and animation, and website design and development.
For multimedia artists and animators the median annual pay was $75,270 in 2019. For web designers, it was $52,691 on average. Outside of the US, UK and Canada are examples of countries in which the design industry is thriving. The average annual salary of a graphic designer in the UK is $72,500 and in Canada, it is $48,750. However, the advantage both of these countries have in comparison to the US is that the costs of living are lower, which makes these salaries even more appealing for people who want to work with communication design.
Online courses to opt
Hyper Island is the first example of a platform that offers great online education related to communication design. It provides a variety of courses about technology and design, business and innovation, and strategy and marketing. Skillshare is also a very useful website. It has extensive content about illustration, film and video production, entrepreneurship, and the software used by graphic designers and animators. Creative Live is another great platform for designers. Besides, it provides some free courses on many different topics. Udemy and Coursera should also be considered, they are two well-known websites that offer courses on a variety of subjects.
Finally, 3 suggestions of specific online courses to learn more about communication design are Graphic Design Specialization by Calarts, available on Coursera; Digital Design: Creating Design Systems for Easier, Better & Faster Design, by Skillshare; and Behavioural Design by Hyper Island.
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