Why Ongoing Learning Programs Should Be Offered at All Design Agencies

Like every other business, design constantly evolves and most designers seek continuing education courses to remain sharp and competitive.

However, learning in design can have various meanings — from improving technical skills and grasping new concepts to staying on top of the industry’s directions.

Continued learning is crucial in the development of expertise. Therefore, all design agencies should offer ongoing learning opportunities to present outstanding work to their clients.

Here’s a closer look at why your design agency needs ongoing learning programs for success.

1. New Skills Can Enhance Your Business

One of the most promising benefits of ongoing learning is that your employees can learn and leverage new design skills.

It could be something that offers training in their current position or enhances a certain skill they already possess. Or, it could be cross-departmental that diversifies your employees’ skill set and breaks down knowledge silos.

Either way, you could offer various types of training that fall into a few main categories:

  • Design-specific skills: Subject areas are unique to your agency’s needs and the design industry. For example, a design agency could offer specialized training in branding or coding.
  • Tech skills: Every business requires some type of software or program. In the case of a design agency, you could consider creating a refresher course on best practices with your current programs like Adobe. Or, you could teach a new skill in web development and streamlined processes for web maintenance.
  • Soft skills: Some of the essential skills that designers need are creativity, communication, problem-solving, strategy and ideation. If you have a newer workforce in the design industry, they may benefit from learning these soft skills to gain more experience interacting with people.

Whether you’re filling in knowledge gaps or exposing them to a new topic, reskilling can positively impact your agency. Once they move past the initial learning curve, your team will be more prepared for their current roles.

2. Helps Stay Up to Date on Your Industry’s Trends

In the world of design and business, industry best practices are constantly changing because of new technology and innovations.

Therefore, the onboarding training you provided a few years ago could already be outdated, leaving you in the dust of your competition.

While it’s best not to jump on every trend, you also won’t want to have a reputation for being out of touch. That’s part of why your design agency should be helping all employees stay updated.

You might not be able to tell the future. However, you can still use education to predict industry trends and stay abreast.

A robust ongoing learning program enables your agency to do just that. You can identify innovations and learn to adapt them within your operations.

3. Increases Employee Engagement

Ongoing learning programs help your employees to stay connected to your agency and engaged with their work.

Once you prioritize education and development, your team becomes a workplace of focus. Essentially, you create this culture where everyone feels motivated to perform and keep improving. In turn, your agency opens itself up to greater opportunities for advancement for your employees.

Many say professional development is one of the most important aspects of their job. Creating a continuous learning program can be a great way to attract and retain top talented employees.

The job market is extremely competitive and not just for candidates. Companies are having a hard time finding skilled employees.

Therefore, offering learning programs and training resources can help your company stay on top of the employment market.

To engage your employees effectively, ensure you design a continuous learning program with employees’ needs and goals in mind. Use surveys and interviews to determine the most common objectives or needs among your team members. That way, the program’s content feels relevant, and the information is useful.

The First Steps to Developing an Ongoing Learning Agenda

Use these steps to design and execute an effective training program in your agency.

1. Conduct a Training Needs Assessment

Before designing your program, you’ll need to define a goal or multiple objectives supporting your team. Consider taking time to determine your business’s outcomes and how you’ll align your employee initiatives with your agency’s goals.

Designing your program around your employees’ needs allows them to stay proactive in achieving their aspirations. Additionally, it prepares your program for success and your employees for future promotion.

2. Create Learning Objectives

Once you conduct a needs assessment, it’s time to create a list of learning objectives. Learning objectives are a list of new skills you want your employees to accomplish after completing the training.

3. Design the Training Materials

Create content that helps your employees reach their learning objectives. The training materials could be case study reviews, quizzes, questionnaires or hands-on exercises.

Remember, it’s important to focus on the learning needs of your employees. You don’t want to make it too challenging for them that they won’t comprehend the material. However, materials that are too easy won’t be engaging enough.

4. Develop the Training Materials

Once you’ve designed your training materials, it’s time to create them using various tools. You could consider using an e-learning tool for building modules. Other ways include PowerPoint presentations, webinars and instructional videos.

While these are just some examples, you have various ways to create and implement the materials in the process.

5. Implement Training

Now it’s time to inform your staff about attending the training. Ensure you give them plenty of time in advance to prepare their schedules. They may also need time to complete any pre-training preparation before they begin.

Many businesses also use a learning management software to deliver, track and review training. If you use something like this, your employees will have a login and see the training materials you’ve assigned to them.

6. Evaluate the Training

How do you know if your program was successful? You’ll have to confirm it was effective by evaluating training at three different levels:

  • Did your employees like the training? Ask their opinions through a survey.
  • Did they learn anything? Use tests, job simulations and exercises to evaluate their learning of the objectives.
  • What is their behavior like post-training? Do they have new knowledge, skills and attitudes? Use their performance-based metrics and observe their behavior to determine this.

Invest in an Ongoing Learning Program Today

Investing in continuous learning is an investment in your design agency’s growth. Providing learning opportunities can offer exciting benefits for you and your employees. Plus, it fosters a stronger workplace culture and can enhance your business’s outcomes.

Follow these steps to ensure you implement a program successfully and be sure it involves the needs of your employees.

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

What Small Businesses Should Know About Consumers’ Privacy

Consumer privacy is a hot button topic. People are often reluctant to share personal details because they’ve had their data compromised in the past. Even large corporations are subject to hackers. Small businesses need to take steps to keep sensitive information secure.

Do Businesses Need to Be Concerned About Privacy?

If you collect any data from your customers at all, privacy is something you must consider. Consumers take many measures to protect personal information. Statista reported around 29% change default privacy settings on their devices but another 29% do nothing to secure their data. 

It’s your responsibility as a business owner to protect the information in your databases. What do you need to know about consumer privacy and your obligation to clients?

1. Avoid Fines

If some of your customers live in European Union countries, your company should be subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act. In a nutshell, the GDPR states you must protect consumer information. You must include a policy for how and when you use any data collected. You should also take common sense steps to protect your site and databases from hackers. 

2. Kick Cookies to the Curb

Consumers’ rising expectations for personal data usage has encouraged large corporations such as Google to change the way they handle data. Google announced they’ll get rid of third-party cookies in 2023. 

If you still use cookies to track visitor actions, it’s time to find new ways to gather analytical data. Cookies are on their way out. Many users resent them and the key players in online big data are moving away from the concept. 

3. Train Employees

A little extra training about how to avoid phishing scams or not give out information to just anyone goes a long way toward reassuring customers you won’t hand out personal data. 

Think about the last time you phoned your cell phone service provider. You likely had to offer your full name, address and perhaps a pin number to gain help with your account or make any changes. Such safeguards protect your customers’ privacy. 

4. Protect Your Website

Take steps to protect your website, especially if you offer logins for your customers and there is any personal data saved to their accounts. For example, you might add secure socket layers to ensure keystrokes aren’t opened up to anyone who wants them. 

You should install a firewall and security plugins. Researchers at Google found about 52% of people use the same password on numerous sites. Encourage your users to use something unique and frequently update their passwords. 

5. Invest in the Right Tools

The right tools can keep your business’ data safe. Make sure you install antivirus software on all your computers. Do regular scans and update any software when new patches become available.

If much of your work is information based, you may find you keep details in the cloud. Investing in a third-party cloud computing service may be the key to growing your business. Make sure any company you work with makes security a top concern. 

6. Create Backups

People may be reluctant to share information the first time. If you were to have a breach or a crash, they’re less likely to give you details again. Make sure you keep backups of your database. 

First, if you get hacked, you can restore your details without asking customers for more info. Second, if your system crashes, you won’t lose everything but can restore it quickly. 

Make a Plan for Catastrophe

At some point in the life of your company, you may face a breach. Perhaps a disgruntled former employee steals customer data or maybe a hacker gains access to personal details. Whatever the situation, if you have a plan in place for how to deal with a catastrophe, you’ll come across as more professional. Your customers will continue to trust you with their sensitive info.