You would agree with me without a doubt that CorelDraw, as a graphic editor is popular in Nigeria. It is a powerful Illustration or vector graphics editor, program, application or software and widely used.
With the ever increasing use of CorelDraw in Nigeria (about 98%), I was convinced to use it as the vector-based illustration software in my professional website design training online course.
This is the catch.
It is faster for you to overcome whatever design challenge you encounter with a tool you are used to than one that is strange to you.
Let’s take a quick illustration.
Remember the story of David and Goliath in the Bible?
King Saul after David had convinced him that he could face the Goliath giant equipped him with his very own armour. He put a bronze helmet on his head and a coat of armour. It was recorded that “David strapped Saul’s sword over the armour and tried to walk, but he couldn’t because he wasn’t used to wearing them.” He said to King Saul “I can’t fight with all these; I’m not used to it.” So he took it off. He took his shepherd’s stick and then picked up five smooth stones from the stream and put them in his bag. With his sling ready, he went out to meet Goliath. The rest is history. He overcame the dreaded Goliath that oppressed the armies of Israel.
“There is power in overcoming with a tool you are used to”
The fact that many graphic /web designers use CorelDraw in Nigeria does not mean as designers we should not be flexible and open to rapid changes in technology trends in the industry.
A TOOL THAT WILL BUILD WEBSITES VISITORS LOVE
On one lovely weekend, some friends came by my house while I was putting finishing touches to my company’s website.
In that instance, one of them (also interested in design) asked to see my website.
On loading the web page, he was indeed impressed and went, WOW!
How did you achieve this he asked?
CorelDraw ofcourse I replied.
He went further to say: “This is what I call branded web design.”
It was indeed unique in its own way.
Or am I blowing my own trumpet?
Well, as I often say, in this space you need to flaunt it if you’ve got it.
He took some time to devour the overall aesthetics and appreciated how the architecture was organized.
I would later find out that this would be a great determining SEO factor called User Experience.
Come to think of it in this sense.
“The longer users stay on your website gives a vivid indication to search engines that your content is relevant to what the user is looking for”
As a reward, Google ups your page on the scale of result pages.
Google increasingly favours pages and consequently ranks high, web pages that are useful, helpful and relevant to what the user is searching.
In clear terms, if you optimize your page around certain keyword or phrase and you promote that content like crazy, if Google (the Judge here) observes that people are “bouncing off” your page, they will quickly “derank” you (even if you rank number one) for that particular keyword you’re targeting.
That will hurt, wont it?
Get a very impressive first contact. First impression matters they say. Then draw the visitor in with other goodies you plan on giving them.
“Give them quality, unique, relevant and highly useful jaw-dropping content”
Just hang in there, we will discuss this as we progress.
Be Flexible To Remain Versatile, Relevant and Sought After
The fact that many graphic/web designers use CorelDraw in Nigeria does not mean as designers we should not be flexible and open to changing technology trends in the industry.
Get this clear:
Some designers approach to web design is Fireworks while some prefer Photoshop some even do it purely online using Wix and other online do-it-yourself, DIY, web building platforms. The bottom line is to ensure that your design meets the client’s needs and objectives.
With the ever changing, dynamic and unpredictable world of technology especially in the information and communication technology industry, it will not be wise to hang with conventions or traditions for too long.
“Today’s change might just be tomorrow’s tradition”
As designers, we should always be evolving; keeping an open context and have the readiness to grow and change at all times.
This makes for versatility and marketability. People will look for you.
CORELDRAW VS. ILLUSTRATOR: Gain Speed, Meet Deadlines
It was quite easy for me to get conversant with CorelDraw.
When I started out learning how to use the computer working as an Industrial Training, IT student in a commercial press in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, some couple of years ago, it was with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, QuarkXPress and PageMaker.
Apple Macintosh running on Mac OS was predominantly our platform. Our in-house style in the Graphics/Pre-press was really quite demanding as most of our jobs were done differently.
This method employed ‘separation of concerns’ i.e. vectors were treated differently from bitmaps then later merged in a different software for reproduction purposes.
Adobe Illustrator was used purely for vector-based elements while Adobe Photoshop was used for photo editing and bitmap-related elements. The files were then exported differently i.e. vectors from Illustrator to EPS (Encapsulated Postscript Extention) and bitmaps from Photoshop to TIFF or JPEG (tagged image file or joint photographic group format). The two different files were then merged in either Pagemaker or QuarkXpress for either proof making or final output to film via an imagesetter.
Gosh! So much technicalities abi?
But then what’s the catch?
This is it…
How I Discovered Coreldraw and Gained Speed, Flexibility I Longed For
It wasn’t until I left the company that I discovered that most graphic designers out there in Lagos, Nigeria use CorelDraw extensively for their designs.
Sometimes when I mention Adobe llustrator to them, it sounded strange.
They would go like: “Illu-whaaaaat?”
“It was not long before it became glaring that if I’d fit into the commercial world of design outside my present workplace, I had to learn how to use CorelDraw”
Moreover, it was really quite easy to get conversant with the program because, at the time, I had gotten used to some graphic packages.
Using the application helped me gain speed with my turn out time with designs and I was really happy.
And you know what?
In no time, I dropped the “Illu” idea.
“Over time with Coreldraw, I could come up with designs faster and better than I did with Illustrator”
Clients were pleased with the speed and this spelt more work for me.
I Preferred Coreldraw Because It Gave Me the Flexibility I Longed For:
Coreldraw, Photoshop – I have used both.
CorelDraw, for me, is highly flexible compared to Illustrator. It is true that quite a lot of designers hold different views concerning both programs.
Some say Illustrator is the industry’s standard.
However, CorelDraw still appeals to me.
It has the friendly capability of handling both vectors and bitmaps in a single document. With the software, you can appreciate the general view of your design.
Handling and manipulating curves also are very seamless with the graphic package.
On the flip side, some other arguments for Illustrator holds.
One opinion holds that Illustrator is a more advanced program than Corel. Some even joke that Corel is to Illustrator what MS Paint is to Photoshop.
Though there are some pitfalls with the Corel package but increasingly, these shortfalls are been improved upon with newer versions that are released.
Another view puts it that “If you use windows; you’re already good with design and looking for the best tool for your platform for design, CorelDraw is the better tool.” (Rephrased).
Macintosh Vs. Windows
Apple Macintosh Operating System, OS, supports, originally and heavily, the Illustrator package while CorelDraw originally was made to run on Windows PCs (Personal Computers).
No doubt that Apple Macs were the first to revolutionise the graphic allied industry in the mid 1980s with the introduction of the Macintosh computer. PCs which evolved out of the IBM/DOS mainframes, were originally made for managing databases for businesses.
In general terms also, Macs are more rugged (less prone to virus attacks, hacker intrusions and other security threats) and have very high specialised Graphic User Interface, GUI, but when it comes to affordability and getting technical support here in Nigeria, it usually poses a very great challenge.
Unlike affordable PCs, where you can easily get to Computer Village in Ikeja, purchase your PC and get softwares immediately loaded (almost for free), it is not the same with
Apple’s softwares and computer systems are very expensive and getting technical support for the system could really be worrisome. This could likely explain and or justify why most Nigerian graphic designers, commercial printing presses, website designers etc prefer to remain with a platform that is highly flexible and that you can readily get support for at anytime.
Windows currently holds the edge in web development, offering more programs for web coding and serving. And those who design websites, although some may use Macs, typically will maintain a Windows workstation for testing their sites. “You have to take into account that most of the world runs on Windows, so you’d better see how it looks to Windows users,” notes Terri Stone, Senior Editor of Macworld.
“Though no amount of cajoling will convince Mac users to switch to PCs and vice versa. Brand loyalty and personal preferences ultimately win over”
But for the expensive softwares and inadequate support, If I had my way, sincerely, I would stick with the Apple Macintosh platform.
Moving from Graphic to Web Design: Positioning for More Job Opportunities
I had my email set to prompt me for graphic and web designers opportunities in Lagos Nigeria.
I’ll let you in on it later….
But now, let’s consider the BIG QUESTION.
The transitional question is asked, as a graphic designer why would I want to move my career to web designing?
Personally, this question for a period in my life has been giving me concern and I’ve aired my views in a couple of blog posts I did a video post on it.
In my reminiscence, I bring back to mind what my ex-boss, Paschal Onyia once told me during a chat we had a couple of years back.
He said if I still love design, I should move up to learn web design. This was many years ago. I wish I had taken his advice early enough. Nonetheless, I did and now I am better off for it.
Gosh! It seemed he saw the future!
Okay I promised I was going to let you in on my discovery on the alerts I set up.
What I discovered was that I was increasingly getting Graphic Design opportunities with heavy knowledge about the web.
Want an example? See an alert I got recently
It is clear that this employer needs a graphic designer with skills about the web. Did you see the “Illu” thing there again? LOL!
In moving your career from graphic to web design we consider the following:
Individuals, corporate bodies, non-governmental, educational organizations across the globe are majorly and increasingly looking for designers that have skills in web.
Everybody wants to maximize value they get these days (maybe with or without due compensation).
I do a lot of research online.
On some occasions during these researches, I would type, on different browser tabs, web design, graphic design, logo design etc.
“The need for web designers following the remarkable breakthrough of the internet in Nigeria is ever on the increase”
It is important as a graphic designer that wants to still remain relevant in the industry to move your career to include skills for the web or you would be carried away by the prevailing floods already here.
Just to drop a little line: Do not bottle yourself in as a graphic designer.
Make effort to expand your coast.
Principles of Design That Stands You Out As An Exceptional Designer:
Your understanding the fundamental value of Design Basics puts you at an edge over others.
These basics include:
- Creative Concept Generation
- Principles, uses and value of primary shapes
- Dynamics, Emphasis and Contrast
- Mechanics of Type or Typography
- The knowledge of the Design Process
- Legibility and Readability
- Extended or Expert Sets
- Layout & Wireframing
- Document Signposting
- Choice of Image Selection
- Designing with color
- Type and color.
With a firm grip on this principle exodus is seamless.
Fears From Embracing Web Design? Not To Worry, You Only Need To Be Conversant With One Design Software:
For a graphic designer that is already familiar with any digital design application like CorelDraw, Illustrator or Indesign, moving to become a website designer is a whole lot easier than not having any knowledge atall.
Professionalism & Unique Designs:
A lot of our so-called website designers these days are just mere copy freaks or template, stereotyped collators.
Wetin be dis na? Ah Ah! Grammar too much na!
Okay get what I mean…
What I mean is that they just copy a web page template and replace elements and that’s it.
“All their designs have the same predictable look”
As a graphic designer, one thing I don’t like compromising is my uniqueness and creativity.
I hate conventions and traditions. I love being and thinking outside the box. When I first started out with my first website, I used a template. I really hated it but I consoled myself that I had a website to, atleast, start with.
The website never represented what I intended it to look like –talking from deep within.
“I was constrained because the system would not do more or maybe then I didn’t know how to go about it”
This put me on a research journey to looking out for how I could make my website look just the way I wanted it.
I wanted control of the design architecture; user interface and navigation experience.
I wanted the power to change anything, anyhow, anytime I liked.
My journey finally became fruitful.
I have virtually all I desired now –but still learning.
This clearly explains the mindset of a designer making the transition. Your design should reflect your creativity and uniqueness. You must be able to brand your website designs to show your strength as a graphic designer. Differentiation (branding if you like) matters for the creative soul. The way your website looks makes a strong impression on how the visitor, prospect, client perceives you.
In Summary, it should give you a whole lot of confidence transiting from graphic to web design because already you’re conversant with the terrain –don’t believe you’re not.
Just start and you’ll see how easy it will turn out for you –consider starting with my online web design course.