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Do designers dream of electric sheep?

Published by Kate Miller, 3 months ago • 5 minutes to read

Can an android become a designer?

If you’re a fan of Philip K. Dick’s books, you’ll think it may be a possibility in 2049.

If you’re not, you’ll think that I’m talking drivel 🙂

But what if I ask whether a person without any tech skills can become a design guru? Trust me; in 2019, this story is no less far-fetched than the well-known “Bladerunner.”

So, what technical skills for designers are important today? We’ve analyzed 500 job offers for Design Interns and the same number of vacancies for experienced designers. Then we created a list of the tech skills that were mentioned most frequently. Master them all, and include on your resume all skills you have. Otherwise, in a couple of years, you might feel a little bit obsolete.

20 most in-demand skills for Junior Designers in 2019
20 most in-demand skills for Senior Designers in 2019

1. UI/UX

No, it’s neither Adobe tools nor HTML topping the list of the ‘must-have’ tech skills for designers. Modern employers need designers to create interfaces, which will impact users’ behavior in the right way. And that’s where the UI/UX skills are coming in handy. (They were INCREDIBLY useful to us while we were creating CV Compiler.)

As our research shows, UX was mentioned 415 times across 500 vacancies for interns, and 520 (!?!) times in the senior job descriptions. As for the UI, it was mentioned in 64% and 90% of vacancies, respectively. The numbers speak for themselves: if you don’t feel comfortable with at least the basic UI/UX principles, it’s time to read some books or take a course.

2. Sketch or Figma?

Google, Facebook, and Apple prefer Sketch. Slack, Twitter, and the New York Times choose Figma. Both tools have their pros and cons, but Sketch is the leader of our ratings. This title appeared in 63% of the intern vacancies, and in 71% of the senior jobs.

As for Figma, it was mentioned in just 9% of the job offers for youngsters, and only 9 times across all vacancies for seniors. Perhaps, ‘new-school’ designers and young startups appreciate Figma for its mobility and real-time collaboration, while the ‘old-school’ professionals love Sketch for its wealthy library of plugins and extensions. Anyhow, if you don’t know either Sketch or Figma, start with Sketch. If you currently know one of these tools, it would be wise to learn the second, as they can perfectly complement each other.

If you already know both, consider getting familiar with Framer, Wireframe, or Balsamiq. These applications were mentioned in about 10% of the senior vacancies, and 7% of the junior jobs. However, it’s not necessary to spend time learning the specifics of all these applications. As they all have similar functionality, choose those which seem more practical to you and your potential employer.

3. The good ol’ HTML

As modern designers often work with websites or web applications, they need to know HTML/CSS. (It’s important to note: ‘to know’ doesn’t mean ‘to use.’) As a designer, you have to understand how things work and be able to spot errors. However, you don’t need to have much experience in coding — that won’t be part of your job.

The term ‘HTML’ was mentioned in 43% of the junior vacancies, and 54% of the jobs for seniors. CSS is right behind HTML: getting mentioned 40% of the time for interns, and 51% for experienced designers. It’s notable that 29% of employers wanted juniors to know JavaScript, and 33% of companies preferred senior applicants to be familiar with it. Such terms as Bootstrap, jQuery, and ReactJS also appeared in about 5% of vacancies in both groups. Surely, it’s not obligatory to learn all these frameworks, but to at least read an article or two about them would be a wise investment of your time.

4. Showcasing your work

Although there are various applications for the design handoff now, employers still prefer classical InVision. The numbers prove it: almost half (44%) of the employers want both juniors and seniors to have experience with InVision. As for the alternatives, some companies use Zeplin. This title was mentioned in 8% of the overall vacancies. Bear in mind, the situation is similar to the sketching tools mentioned above. Try the most popular ones, but concentrate on those which correspond to your potential tasks and projects.

5. Finally, Adobe

Photoshop and Illustrator are not a designer’s everything anymore. Knowledge of design principles, practical experience, problem-solving skills, and a sense of taste are more important than the ability to work with layers and visual effects. The reason for that should be obvious: the brand-new sketching, prototyping, and showcasing tools are slowly replacing the complicated Adobe software. However, I wouldn’t say that modern professionals can delete the familiar blue icon from their desktops quite yet.

One-third of employers, (33%), still want both seniors and juniors to have hands-on experience with Photoshop and Illustrator. Moreover, about 6% of all employers want their applicants to know InDesign — the software for creating brochures, posters, flyers, etc. So, although working with Adobe software probably won’t constitute the lion’s share of your work, you still should have at least a basic familiarity with it if you want to get a job.

6. Don’t forget about the overall development

Scrum, Agile, and hyper-convergence shouldn’t be just trendy words for those who want to become successful designers. 29% of employers want senior designers to be familiar with Agile (for juniors, this number is 10% lower.) The term ‘hyper-convergence’ was mentioned in 10% of the junior jobs and 7% of the senior vacancies. As for Scrum, 8% of those employers hiring experienced designers consider it necessary. However, juniors should also learn more about this methodology; self-organizing and teamwork are crucial if you want to succeed.

One final note: 6% of employers want senior designers to be familiar with Jira.

7. Other tendencies

Most of the employers want candidates to be visually-oriented. We’ve seen the collocation ‘visual design’ in 25% of the junior vacancy posts, and 44% of the senior jobs. ‘Does the finished product look good? Is it convenient for the end user? Does it impact their behavior in a positive way?’ These are the questions you will often have to answer in your work.

Research has also shown that modern designers should pay more attention to working with mobile interfaces. Smartphones and tablets rule the Internet world, and the words ‘iOS’ and ‘Android’ are present in 7% and 15% of the junior and senior jobs, respectively. In addition to that, 10% of employers want seniors to be familiar with the principles of responsive web design.

So, does a designer need technical skills? My answer is ‘Yes, of course.’ However, simply having this expertise is not enough — you need to showcase it properly. Apart from a portfolio on Behance or Dribble, you need a decent resume, describing your achievements and (tech) skills in a full scope. Tap here to check if your resume is geeky enough! (Learning your resume score is free.)

4 Comments
Grace Lily · April 13, 2019 at 8:35 am

Thank you for sharing such a nice topic . Its really very helpful for all beginners .

Ranit Das · April 15, 2019 at 9:50 am

Thank you for this post. It is awesome. You compiled all the answer I was seeking. I started studying & creating design for 4 months, this is up to date. NN group’s published work (in similar area) was done in 2013, i realized it was older and I needed new. This is exactly what I am trying to find. Thank you.

Justyna · April 25, 2019 at 11:53 pm

Really nice analysis! Thanks!
One thing though, when HCI is mentioned in job descriptions for UX-related roles, it doesn’t mean “hyper-convergence”, but “Human-Computer Interaction”, as a degree in that field is often required for UX Researcher roles.

Elinor · May 8, 2019 at 6:21 am

Amazing! Its actually amazing article, I have got much clear idea regarding
from this article.

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