Becoming a Freelance Digital Designer: Everything to Know 🚀

  • Design & Creative
Contra Tips
· 8 min read

Explore the transformative world of digital design with this in-depth guide to its types, the roles of digital designers, and its profound impact on business.

The digital age has given birth to a new genre of creativity — digital design. This type of design has transformed traditional models of visual communication, but what exactly is it? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain the different kinds of digital design, the roles of digital designers, and how digital design jobs can be a game-changer for your freelance business. Prepare to embrace the digital revolution.

What is digital design? 💻 

Digital design is all about using digital tools to make and shape visuals that are viewed and interacted with on a digital device. These designs communicate ideas and solve problems; from flashy website interfaces to fun animations, anything that can be viewed on a device like a smartphone, tablet, or computer falls under this umbrella.  

That said, it’s not just about creating stunning visuals. Digital design is a broad field offering innovation, creativity, and technology that serves a purpose. It presents products, information, and services, and it’s also a form of graphic design, technically speaking (more on that in a bit).  

Below, we’ll journey through this dynamic field and introduce you to the creative talents embracing digital design, like graphic and web designers.  

Digital design versus graphic design 🎨 

While closely related, digital design and graphic design serve distinct purposes and, in some cases, use different tools. Simply put, the traditional types of graphic design create visual communications for print products, from a poster to a brochure, magazine layouts, billboards, and more. A graphic designer often uses tools like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and InDesign, which require a keen understanding of design principles. 

Digital design is graphic design’s newer, more tech-oriented sibling. It uses technology like design programs to create interactive designs that live on digital platforms. These include mobile apps, marketing emails, social media content, and online banner ads. Digital design’s focus on interactivity and responsiveness sets it apart, as effective online designs enhance user experience and engagement, ultimately boosting business performance. 

10 types of digital design 🖌️

When it comes to understanding what digital designers do, the field is impressively broad. It encompasses a variety of specializations, including web and graphic designers (here’s the difference between them). 

Here’s an overview of 10 key types of digital design:  

  • Web design: Websites need to be engaging and user-friendly, and that’s where web design comes in. The most popular type of digital design, it’s vital for industries like commerce and business.
  • App design: This involves creating the look, feel, and functionality of mobile applications designed for shopping, playing music, chatting, and more. Apps can be designed for desktop, too. 
  • App icon design: Those tiny thumbnails that represent apps on your smartphone? Those are app icons, and they must be well-designed to leave a great first impression.
  • Landing page design: This is the creation of single web pages, often for marketing campaigns. A creative landing page is an excellent choice for promoting a specific offer. 
  • eBook design: If you’ve never downloaded an eBook, they’re electronic books requiring a combination of layout, typography, and visuals. To be successful, they must be easy to read and visually appealing.  
  • Infographic design: Infographics are visual representations of information. This type of digital design communicates details in a simplified, visually engaging way.
  • Email design: A crucial part of email marketing, well-crafted emails enhance engagement and click-through rates, ultimately increasing sales. Great email design also helps establish cohesive branding for businesses. 
  • PowerPoint design: Did you know many companies use custom-designed, branded templates for their presentations? This type of design creates unique PowerPoint outlines for company business use.  
  • Banner ad design: Eye-catching banner ads are traditional online advertising for promoting products and services. They’re interactive and often lead to landing pages. 
  • Social media design: Social media is all about compelling visuals. This type of design aims to boost brands’ presence and engagement on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. 

8 types of digital designers 🤖 

If you’re looking to outsource digital designing for your project, finding the right freelancer is key. There are quite a few specialties within this field, each with its own unique set of skills. Understanding these roles and the different ways they add value to digital projects can make or break the end result of your project. 

Below, we’ll explore eight key types of digital designers and their roles:  

App designers 📱 

These specialists design the visual aspects of mobile applications, often collaborating with UX designers to ensure the aesthetics align with the app’s functionality. In most cases, app designers create mock-ups, which are then rendered by a developer. To help app designers deliver their best work, provide details like your app’s desired features, target users, and user experience.  

User Interface (UI) designers 😎 

UI designers are detail-oriented folks who sweat the small stuff. They design interactive elements like buttons and text fields, ensuring consistency across the interface’s functionality, look, and feel. To effectively collaborate with UI design experts, clearly articulate your preferences for your project’s functionality and appearance, including color palette.  

Graphic designers ✏️ 

While graphic design is typically used for print, these designers have a keen eye for aesthetics, deftly choosing fonts and colors and creating graphics to communicate brand messaging. To get the most out of a graphic artist, clearly communicate your brand’s identity, visual preferences, and overall vibe to help them translate your ideas into real-life art. 

Web designers 🌐

Web designers use tools like Figma to build the foundations of websites and landing pages, creating intuitive layouts that are easy to navigate and tell your brand’s story. Many web designers also offer front-end development services using languages like HTML. When collaborating with web designers, define the purpose of your site, its target audience, and the user journey for the best results.  

User Experience (UX) designers 🔗 

UX designers create frameworks for how users interact with digital designs. They research, build user personas, and design wireframes to boost the chances of intuitive, enjoyable user interaction with an app or website. If you require UX design, be prepared to discuss your users’ behaviors, needs, and preferences.  

Product designers ⌚ 

If you’re wondering what product designers do, they look at the bigger picture. These creatives decide how a digital product works and is experienced and how it aligns with a business’s goals. If you hire a product designer, provide an overview of your product’s core functions and your company’s objectives.  

Interaction designers 🔥 

If digital design is a dance, interaction designers are choreographers. These experts make every click, scroll, or swipe count, creating visually engaging, immersive designs. When briefing interaction designers, outline how you want people to interact with your design to help them create digital art that delights your users.  

Animators 🫨 

Animators add a dash of Hollywood to digital designs. These designers create custom animations like interactive logos that enhance the user experience. To get the best from animators, provide a robust vision for your motion graphic and its purpose in designing the overall user experience.  

4 components of great digital design 🤩 

Excellent, effective digital design is about more than just artistic skill. It’s a meticulous blend of components that, when woven together, elevate the end result. Here are four crucial elements to consider for great digital design:  

  • User-centric: The user is the heart of every great digital design. As such, a user-centric approach ensures designs are intuitive, accessible, and tailored to meet the target audience’s needs.
  • Aesthetically pleasing: Creating visually appealing digital designs that reflect your brand identity is essential for attracting and retaining user interest. 
  • Consistent: Maintaining a uniform look and feel across all aspects of your digital product, from colors to fonts, button styles, spacing, and imagery, strengthens your brand identity and improves usability.
  • Interactive: Incorporating elements that respond to user actions, like buttons and links, adds engagement and dynamism to designs.  

Hire an Independent digital designer on Contra 🚀 

Understanding the ins and outs of digital design and the roles of digital designers can empower you to build a digital presence that truly reflects your brand. From aesthetically pleasing visuals to intuitive user experiences, digital design combines creativity with strategy to boost your company’s online presence.  

If you need a freelance graphic designer or digital designer to tackle your project, the commission-free Contra platform is here to help. Browse our network of freelancers who are ready and waiting to bring your digital vision to life. For tips and tricks on taking your small business to the next level and more, be sure to check out our blog, The Contrarian.

What Is a Mockup? How to Visualize Your Designs Effectively 📝

Discover what mockups are in design, how they serve as virtual representations of concepts, and how they guide the development process.
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