Are you creative and enjoy drawing or designing things? Or are you someone who spends time on the computer and enjoys online graphics? Have you thought about becoming a digital designer? You will combine your computer skills with your artistic side and create online designs and graphics in this line of work. South Africa has a scarcity of digital designers so it’s worthwhile looking into if you’re looking for a 21st century career.

What do digital designers do?

As a digital designer you will use software to create images and other aspects that will appear on a screen. This includes cell phones, computers, tablets and any other digital platform.

You will be using pictures, symbols, sounds etc. to communicate ideas or marketing to people using those devices. Your design work can be interactive and it includes platforms such as websites, video games, mobile apps, social media, advertising etc.

What skills do you need to become a digital designer?
– Design skills

You’ll need to be able to design the overall look of a website or an app. This includes looking at the layout, colours, fonts, icons and visual theme of that site amongst other things.
– Coding skills
– Communication skills

You’ll need to be able to communicate effectively with your clients, your team and your audience.

What is the difference between a graphic designer and a digital designer?
Graphic design has been around for a long time. People involved in graphic design work for the print media, be it books, magazines, newspapers or for brochures or any other fixed product.

Digital design is similar to graphic design but became a new career once the internet became a popular mode of communication. The design skills were then updated to include more interactive elements and coding was needed to translate the design to an online platform.

Where will you work as a digital designer?
There are a number of specialist digital design companies that offer their services to other corporates or individuals. You could work at one of these companies or you could work inhouse with the corporate or organisation that needs design work done.

This sort of work allows you to have quite a lot of flexibility. You could work from home and offer your services as a start-up to others involved in smaller organisations or SMMEs.

What do you need in order to become a digital designer?
You can choose to study to become a web designer at a university. For this you will need a NSC matric certificate or equivalent together with a design portfolio to apply.

There are also several different options to choose from to learn to design websites. You don’t need to have a tertiary education to do this. You could do a full-time course or opt for a short or part-time course.

FunDza interviewed Jethro Settler about working as a digital designer.

What is rewarding about your work?
The most enjoyable part of being a digital designer for me is the problem solving aspect of the job. Being able to use my creativity in many different ways. Having restrictions on your creativity is a good way to learn and adapt which is critical to be a good designer.

What are the challenges?
A lot of the time you will not have control over what you are creating because you are creating it for a client. If you are looking to be someone who creates what they want, you should rather think of becoming an artist not a designer. Once you’ve built up a client base, reputation and experience, then clients may trust you to give you full creative control, but you have to prove yourself to get there.

Advice for young people interested in digital design
If you’re someone who likes to solve visual problems and create digital design is a good career for you. It’s important to be realistic, practice, and don’t give up. It will be slow at first but consistency will give you the edge over other designers!

Where can you study to become a digital designer?
Full-time courses (1 to 3 years long depending on the institution)

University of Johannesburg

University of Pretoria

Tshwane University of Technology

City Varisty

Friends of Design


Pearson Institute of Higher Education

Short courses

Boston City Campus

Pixel Craft

Open Window School of Visual Communication


Always make sure that the institution which you apply to is accredited.

Becoming a digital designer is a great way to combine your computer coding skills with your creative flair. It’s an exciting field as technology is constantly being updated. You will have the opportunity to get involved in a wide variety of different work from digital marketing to gaming. This is a growing field in which you will find plenty of work opportunities!