A designer's brain has two distinct parts: one that loves beauty and one that loves order. A successful design project not only is attractive, but it is coherent and well-organized. As a design student, you should take graphics and web classes (Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign, etc.) and art/drafting classes, but also take as many writing/editing and production classes as possible.
WRITING AND EDITING Writing and editing are important because, in the end, design is just communicating artistically. * When you interview for a job, you'll be asked to explain your concepts behind projects, how they were organized and why you should be hired. When you submit a query or freelance proposal, bad grammar, spelling or general incoherence can keep you from getting the job. Writing and editing classes will teach you to be articulate and succinct. * Designing something simple, like a logo? You'll need to communicate clearly with your client/boss about the logo's image and how it relates to the company. You'll be asked about the purpose of every element, from color to line. On SmashingMagazine.com, legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser (he designed the "I Love New York" logo) discussed what makes a great logo. "You want to move the viewer in a perception so that ... they get the idea, because that act between seeing and understanding [a logo] is critical." http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/07/12/milton-glaser-art-design/ * Designing something larger, like a company brochure? Chances are good you'll be given an abundance of type, photos and illustrations. You'll have to sift through the content, filtering out the least important or irrelevant information while packaging the good stuff in an organized manner. You may be asked to tighten and rewrite the copy so that it is bright and to the point. You may have to edit down the photo selection, so it is vital that you understand the scope of the project and what the client is trying to tell people. * Designing a web page or online ad? People skimming a website don't have long attention spans. First, the design must capture their eye. If the design is logical and they can find the information they're looking for, readers will stay on the page longer and click through more.
PRODUCTION It's one thing to be skilled at the latest and greatest graphics programs. But if your final product doesn't come out correctly on the production end, it's doomed. Take some classes so that you know how websites/magazines/brochures are produced or printed. Tour a commercial digital press. Talk to printers and sign companies. By understanding a variety of production processes, you'll be able discuss with your client the strengths and weaknesses of different formats, ensuring your project reproduces at top quality. You'll have an advantage over other designers who don't understand spot color versus four color, or who don't know the challenges of producing a billboard or glossy magazine insert. The more knowledge you have, the more effective you are. Your products will be the best and you won't cost your client money with a production re-do.