5 Secrets of Senior Designers Senior Level Designers are very much sought after, and they are greatly admired in the design community. It’s a coveted status that not all achieve. These master are capable of not only producing amazing work, usually for high profile clients, but are able to do an amazing volume of work in a short period of time.

There is a reason Senior Designers make the big bucks, simply put they are worth it. What they are able to bring to a project, a team, and a company is of considerable value. They are often able to accomplish task in a fraction of the time of their counterparts and can give genuinely useful insight into the needs of a project. Today I will reveal a few of their coveted secrets.

Senior Designers Know Shortcuts and Use them.
One thing that becomes immediately obvious when watching a Senior Designer work is that they know the shortcuts for whatever program they are working in. They don’t usually have to second guess or fiddle with menus or panels to do simple or repetitive task, within a few clicks they have exactly what they wanted.

This is something that Art Directors and Creative Directors at Agencies have a tendency to see right away and it carriers more weight than you can imagine. Why is it so important? Time is the one commodity that can’t be replaced, and learning the keyboard shortcuts means you valued enough of your time to where saving even a few seconds is worth it to you. It tells them a lot about your maturity and experience.

Senior Designers Have Thousands of Assets.
Senior Designers usually have been working for years and in that time have likely accumulated a massive stockpile of photographs, brushes, fonts and other resources. This means that there is usually less time and expense for them to work on a project as they don’t have to do stock photo research outside their own library too often, and they have likely even created many of their resources from scratch.

Senior Designers Have Mastered Bridge and Acrobat.
Organizing your assets, tagging them, making them easy to find is extremely important. Bridge also has several useful tools like the ability to make PDF’s of your image assets for reference purposes or selecting images from a photo shoot in literally just a few clicks. This can also be used when you need to send out a series of material for someone to evaluate.  It is also vital to have mastery of Acrobat and the PDF format which is still today the most accepted format. Its a very universal format and Acrobat Reader is free, making the review process easier, and it is the format most printers expect to work with.

Senior Designers Use The Core Design Principles.
Senior Designers use and breath the Gestalt Uniforming Principles. When you look at their work there is sense of unity, focus, you can see the use of texture, proper application of contrast and color usage; they control your eye direction, there is obvious depth and they take advantage of texture in subtle ways. All this is done seamlessly and flawlessly in their work and it is what sets the bar for other designers.

Senior Designers Have Mastered the Adobe Design Trinity.
Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. Senior Designers more often than not can tell you what more than 80% of the tools in each of the programs does and whether it would be appropriate to use it or not. That is what is meant by mastery of the application, not the result they are able to achieve with those tools.

A “one trick pony” could be could with the tools necessary for Vector Illustration, yet know nothing about how to bring that same artwork into Photoshop as a Smart Object and know how to polish it and take it even further. Beyond master the individual tools and software, Senior Designers know how to use the Design Trinity in combinations to get the best out of their work, and do task more efficiently and when to use what tools and software for the result they want.


Senior Designers Use Work-flows.
Having an established work-flow, or a standard for how you perform certain task every time is very important. Knowing exactly what you have to do, and how to do it cuts down the time things take and is the reason Senior Designers can produce 10 comps when other designers can only do 3 comps in the same amount of time.

Defining your own process or rituals for how you approach aspects of your projects is important because you won’t waste time floundering. Since you will always find yourself “prepared to work” you can focus on doing things rather than figuring out how to approach them. A primary example is having an established work flow for retouching your stock photos. Terry White has 5 things he does to every photograph he’s going to use.

I hope you have a much better insight into some of the things that Senior Designers have that separate them from everyone else. If you’re a Senior Designer reading this feel free to share any of your secrets or advice in the comments below! Everyone else can feel free to comment as well!

About Roberto Blake
Roberto Blake is a Professional Graphic Designer, Photographer and Digital Artist. When working with clients to develop their branding, Roberto creates content to support Designers and Artist in the creative community through online articles, tutorials and videos.