I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about what separates great designers from their merely competent brethren. And my best friend Google led me to the following, courtesy of the AIGA. Everything here is tried and true, folks – and I don’t see these requirements changing anytime soon. Further proof that great design is about a hell of a lot more than visual talent. Enjoy.

  1. Ability to create and develop visual response to communication problems, including understanding of hierarchy, typography, aesthetics, composition and construction of meaningful images
  2. Ability to solve communication problems including identifying the problem, researching, analysis, solution generating, prototyping, user testing and outcome evaluation
  3. Broad understanding of issues related to the cognitive, social, cultural, technological and economic contexts for design
  4. Ability to respond to audience contexts recognizing physical, cognitive, cultural and social human factors that shape design decisions
  5. Understanding of and ability to utilize tools and technology
  6. Ability to be flexible, nimble and dynamic in practice
  7. Management and communication skills necessary to function productively in large interdisciplinary teams and “flat” organizational structures
  8. Understanding of how systems behave and aspects that contribute to sustainable products, strategies and practices
  9. Ability to construct verbal arguments for solutions that address diverse users/audiences; lifespan issues; and business/organizational operations
  10. Ability to work in a global environment with understanding of cultural preservation
  11. Ability to collaborate productively in large interdisciplinary teams
  12. Understanding of ethics in practice
  13. Understanding of nested items including cause and effect; ability to develop project evaluation criteria that account for audience and context