5 common myths about graphic design

It’s no secret that the internet is all about attention-grabbing content, and what better way to grab someone’s attention than with visuals. For many businesses, this means finding someone to do graphic design for them. Some businesses hire an agency for help, others could hire a freelancer or a full-time designer, and some will try to have someone already in-house do their design work. Before choosing a route, it’s important to understand what it actually means to be a graphic designer.

Here are 5 common myths about being a graphic designer.

MYTH #1. Anyone can be a graphic designer

Just because you downloaded Photoshop to your computer doesn’t make you a graphic designer. Being a good graphic designer requires you to understand and stay up to date with design trends, both in general and in your area of expertise. The combination of understanding the software and what makes for a good design is essential, and frankly a lot of “graphic designers” don’t understand either.

Most people think that because graphic designers get to “play” on a computer all day, it’s automatically an easy job – they’re wrong. Designing something requires a lot of patience, strategy, and trial and error. If you’re in a company without access to a true designer, it will show in the quality of your finished products. Don’t try to hack your way through design if you have no experience.

MYTH #2. All design jobs are the same

Every design job is different because everyone is designing for different industries, audiences, and reasons. Designing something for a fashion magazine requires different skills than designing something for an industrial engineering magazine. I realized this quickly when I started working at Leading Results and had design projects for B2B clients; designing in the B2B space differs greatly from the B2C space because the audiences have distinct ways of buying. B2C audiences buy based on emotion and visuals that make products look appealing, while B2B audiences think about their purchases and rely on content. If you make a B2B design look like it should be an ad in a Cosmo magazine, people will be very confused.

MYTH #3. Graphic designer = tech support

Yes, we spend a lot of time on the computer, but that doesn’t mean we know how to fix computer problems. I’ve met many graphic designers who know nothing about computers other than how to use the graphic design products they work in every day. This might come as a shock, but think about it in another industry. Would you call a school janitor to fix your plumbing? Just because they work with the part you can see doesn’t mean they know how to fix everything you can’t see. 

MYTH #4. Editing designs can be done in a snap

For making changes to a design, time plays a big factor. Using computers makes it easier because we rarely have to start over; if done right we can easily delete or change numerous portions at a time. However, that doesn’t mean we stop paying attention to detail. Edits take time, and when feedback isn’t specific, we often have to repeat the trial and error process to figure out what works best for the overall design. You should never accept a project thinking it can be done quickly – it will show negatively in quality and performance.

MYTH #5. Graphic designers just make things look pretty

From an outsider’s perspective, a lot of what a graphic designer does is make things look aesthetically pleasing, but if you try graphic design, you’ll realize it’s much more than that. This is why I don’t recommend finding someone in house to hack their way through your designs; you’ll get better results if a designer understands the strategy of designing something. A graphic designer needs to understand everything – audience, industry, layout, why they chose those colors. Save yourself the frustration and money by hiring an experienced designer that knows what they’re doing.

(McWilliams, n.d.)

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