Different models exist out there to map out design skills. It’s a rough science and more of an art. IDEO popularized the T-shaped designer—someone who has deep knowledge and expertise in one or two areas (for example, interaction design and research) but has broad knowledge of other areas (for example, service design and brand design). Larger companies, usually with bigger teams, are composed of a mix of designers. Some of those designers tend to be I-shaped—deep specialists in their domain (motion graphics experts, for instance).
Figure: Assessing Your Design Skills
The modern designer will typically have a variety of skills at their disposal.
It’s easy to progress at a skill in the beginning, but it gets harder to reach an advanced level and even harder still to become an expert. It’s important to prioritize which skills are important to you. As you’re going through them and thinking of specific skills, consider:
How important is this skill to me?
Where do I want it to be?
What skills do I want to develop next in my career journey?
What skills play to my strengths and interests?
What combination of skills will help me stand out as a designer and make an impact?
Not all skills are important all the time, and your needs and industry focus will change. What’s important is to be explicit about what you know, where you want to go, and what’s important to you.