Designing, whether for print or the web, has never been a more diverse career. Generally speaking, the more you can do for a client, the better and the more work you’ll be able to accept.
But what exactly should you focus your attention on when it comes to learning new skills? You probably want to pick skills to learn that have universal appeal and can be applied to many different types of client projects.
Here are 5 exciting design specialties to broaden your skill set.
This is an obvious one. Taking your own photos has many advantages, both creative and legal. Learning about lighting, camera angles, and photo composition can improve your designs immensely. Many designers are already being expected to perform the work of a photographer, so why not take a few classes and practice to build some genuine professional experience in the field?
When you take a photo, you own it. It’s your intellectual property, and you don’t need anyone else’s permission to use it for client work. Having this power can speed up your design process, and, if your photos are good enough, can also help you get noticed by relevant media channels. If you or your client has something to promote, it will be an enormous help to have professional-looking photographs ready to be plugged into a blog or print publication.
An extension of photography, only with “moving parts,” so to speak. Video is a field with tons of opportunities, that is growing with popularity even as you read this. There are over 4 billion hits on YouTube alone… every day! People have long since decided that they enjoy watching videos online, and your clients are waiting for someone with the expertise to take advantage of this huge market.
If there’s an opportunity for your clients to take advantage of the medium of video, it’s your duty as a service provider to make them aware of that and communicate the possibilities to them. You will have clients begging you to incorporate video into their businesses, once they see how simple it can be to do so. You can learn the basics of video editing for free (ironically) on YouTube. The best part about learning video? You can double the amount you currently charge your clients for design, and perhaps event triple or quadruple it.
Long used in the advertising industry, motion graphics are making their way onto the web as well. Motion graphics can be applied to everything from animated typography to responsive mobile app design.
Software such as Adobe After Effects can help turn you into a motion graphics pro. Of course, motion graphics software is not cheap, but the percentage increase of what you can charge for your work will more than make up for it.
3D is absolutely exploding right now in the design world. Especially with the advances in 3D CAD technology, which is taking the craft from the esoteric realm of product designers and animators and placing the power in the hands of the common people to create virtually anything they can dream up. The rise of 3D printing is also helping to generate more interest in 3D. Free software like Blender and SketchUp can get you started in this exciting field.
If you’re thinking that 3D design is difficult or complicated, think again. Simplified, free software made for 3D printing can nearly eliminate the learning curve, and the growing library of free 3D base models to use even lowers the amount of modeling you need to do to create something cool.
Mobile Web Design
More and more, companies want to take their web applications to mobile devices. It’s estimated that, as of 2013, 91% of all people on earth use a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device to access the web, communicate with others, and organize their lives.
Yes, that’s right: over 4 billion people currently use a mobile device. That’s a lot of potential customers that your clients want to reach. The more you know about mobile design, the more valuable you will be to a wide variety of clients.
Just The Beginning
As you can see, there are many exciting design specialties to explore. You can broaden your client base and make more money the more you know how to do. Of course, these are just five of the most popular and potentially useful skills, but the possibilities are endless if you know how to dominate a design niche. Things like calligraphy, origami, or even knitting and basket weaving can help your career take off. You just have to know where and how to apply an expertise.