Finding a job in the web industry is not an easy task nowadays and it is really smart to know what you do wrong and what you do well, in order to be able to improve yourself and your skill set. Getting straight out of university and the degree you get there will not be very helpful, simply  because there are more experienced designers out there who can do the same job as you (maybe even a better one) for the same amount of money. If you will only be the average worker, it will not turn out too well for you. Every designer needs to stand out somehow in order to get a job in an agency.

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However, even if they know they need to improve, most of the beginner designers don’t know where to start from. They don’t know what is more important and quite frankly this is not a problem only beginner designers have, but even the more experience ones: is it creativity that matters, or the strategy and organizational skills behind such a project? Which out of these two will get you closer to that dream job of yours?

In today’s article we take a look at each side of the debate and try to jump onto a conclusion at the end of the discussion.

For creativity only

Knowing everything about your field and being able to develop surprising results is something every employer looks for. However, I know many fellow designers whose rooms look like after a war and they can’t respect a schedule or always work a bit too hard in the last day before the deadline. You might be a good and visionary designer, but will it be enough for an employer?

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People are attracted to new and being able to provide it will make your clients happy – and if you don’t work freelance, but in an agency, then your employer will be very happy too. He can always be sure that he can assign you that big project the company landed. However, because he knows you lack strategy, he will also need to assign a whole team to you – and some of them will only have as assignments keeping a close eye on you and on the status of the project. This means the employer will spend more money on you, only because you can’t follow a schedule properly.

Truth is that creative individuals are the best to have in a company, but they can never work alone. You can never be sure they will deliver in time, therefore as specified above, you need to always assign them a person to keep a close eye on the project. This way you can get the best out of such a designer.

For strategy only

Here we will discuss about freelancers or designers who are not so creative, but have lots of organization skills. They know how to make a schedule and follow it, always keep deadlines and think ahead of the others, make plans and follow them and always have targets to achieve on short- and long-term. Their advantage is that even if they can’t provide too much as designers, they can also be employed as project managers and they can become your boss at some point in time – even if you are the creative one.

If you are one of the strategic ones, you have the ability to create a strategy for long-term and make everybody follow it. You will not be able to open your Illustrator without any purpose but end with something spectacular – that is the job for the creative ones – but you will be able to do it through research. Sure, it will take more time for you, but you can also make it.

Photo source: contentstrategyhub.com

If we think of a creative mind, he will not be able to work as a project manager even if he can open the Photoshop without any purpose and provide you a stunning design in three hours.

Also, showing a client you work with that you planned ahead is most likely going to land you the job over a creative designer coming dressed in jeans and a T-Shirt and promising that the product will be done in time. Strategy and planning land jobs and pay bills.

Being prepared and allowing time for mistakes is something else that creative individuals are not able to do – or, at least, not bear doing it. They just start working with few days before the delivery deadline and hope everything will go along just perfectly and they will be able to deliver. However, it is not always like that and most of the time there are them missing deadlines. However, if you are strategic and have a plan, most of the time you will be able to avoid these costly mistakes.

So what’s best?

Well, it is quite impossible to have a clear conclusion, because both the creative and the strategic designers have something to offer. If we think of it, a creative designer needs a second person to keep track of him – which means paying for two persons while only one does the work. If you take the strategic one, he can work alone, but will need more time for research and creation process than the first one, which means he will have to be paid for a longer period. If we look at the money side, both take you there with approximately the same amount of financial resources.

If I would be the manager of a design agency, I would never go for the strategic or creative designer alone. I would always pair them, because I think this can give the best results. But as I am not a manager, I can only guess. My experience shows that clients would rather dig the strategic guys. The ones being able to come at a presentation and show professionalism instead of just creativity will be the ones landing the project.

Photo source: geniussquared.com

Furthermore, put yourself in the shoes of a manager. Who would you rather have as an employee: the guy who can deliver a design, but needs somebody else to look for him, or the guy who can do everything by himself (although it will take more time), but also if needed can be promoted to a project manager role? Versatility is something designers need to be aware of; it works, it impresses and everybody longs for it. Instead of just employing somebody else, a manager would always rather have somebody from its own company in a higher role – it is also easier for him and the risk is smaller.

Conclusion

I totally agree with the ones saying that we shouldn’t chose between these two, because a complete designer should also be creative and strategic – otherwise he shouldn’t expect getting a job. It is totally right, but I am aware of the fact that not all designers out there are like that.

If I would have to give you a straight conclusion, I would go for the strategic guys. I, myself, am more strategic than creative, so maybe I am also a little bit subjective, but the general opinion is that showing professionalism is the way to land a job – whatever job it is we are talking about.

What do you think about this debate? Do you believe being strategic is more important than being creative, or you think that as long as you can deliver stunning products it doesn’t matter how you do it? What is your general input on this topic?