A Definitive Guide to Computer Designing (With Careers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 23, 2021

Many industries use computers to maximize their output and streamline the production of their goods and services. Computer designing is a field that many industries and businesses have because they want to increase output, minimize costs or design new technologies. Knowing what computer designing is and the benefits it can have can help you take the next step in your career. In this article, we discuss what computer designing is, including the types, principles, benefits and careers this field can offer.

Related: 15 Computer Science Fields

What is computer designing?

Computer designing is a career field where professionals integrate, develop and change a variety of aspects of computers. Most often, professionals in this field design physical computers or software programs to meet the needs of specific organizations, teams within an organization or individual tasks. Computer designing is often integral to the success of organizations that want to market computer products or update their internal computer systems to ensure efficient and high-quality means of production. Sometimes, industries refer to computer design as computer-aided design or graphic design roles, both of which incorporate elements of software and hardware design.

Types of computer design

There are four major types of computer design, detailed below:

1. Hardware design

Hardware design is a section of computer design focused on the development, testing and integration of physical components for computers and related equipment such as keyboards, computer mice, speakers, number pads and cameras. Professionals in this field often have backgrounds in computer science and engineering, allowing them to design physical elements such as circuits and internal mechanisms and test them for optimal performance. Professionals may focus on several sections of hardware design, such as miniaturization, efficiency, heat displacement and installation of custom systems for organizations.

Related: How To Become a Computer Hardware Engineer

2. Software design

Software design is a section of computer design focused on the development of programs to complete tasks, aid people and make workplaces more efficient. Professionals in software design often have backgrounds in computer science and software engineering, allowing them to write programs in a variety of programming languages. Software programs aid in a wide variety of tasks, such as word processing, data storage and management, data manipulation, project management and many others. Professionals in software design may aid several organizations by designing and marketing general-purpose software or tailoring software to meet the individual needs of an organization or project team.

3. Graphic design

Graphic design is a section of computer design that is focused on providing high-quality visual designs for marketing, sales, education and publishing information. Professionals in graphic design are often integral to marketing and strategy teams at organizations because they design visually stimulating advertisements and information graphics based on the goals of the organizations where they work. They may also aid management teams in communications and training by designing visuals that are used internally in their organizations. Besides designing advertisements for specific organizations, they may also create general-purpose designs or templates for several organizations to change and use for different purposes.

Related: 9 Degrees for a Career in Graphic Design

4. Computer-aided design and drafting

Computer-aided design and drafting, or CADD, is a section of computer design that is focused on the development of computers and software to help professionals create, change, analyze and optimize designs for machinery and other physical components and increase the professional's efficiency while they work. Typically, CADD programs track the designs and modifications that a professional makes to a design on a computer and stores those changes in a database or rendering of the design. These programs may create 2D or 3D renderings for presentations and quality assurance. Professionals in CADD fulfill a wide variety of roles in design industries.

Principles of computer design

The principles of computer design change depending on the type of computer design. Below are the principles of computer design for each type mentioned above:

Hardware design principles

Typically, professionals in hardware design want to design a product that is used for a wide variety of purposes. To meet that goal, the principles for hardware designers are:

  • Set standards: The first step that many hardware designers take when creating a new project is to set goals and outcomes for their product. This can help them keep the product consistent and save time by only keeping the integral functions of the product.

  • Design for compatibility: The second step that hardware designers take is to ensure that their product can run features that already exist. This can help them ensure their product is successful when they release it for sale.

  • Limit size: One of the major aspects of hardware design for the modern era is to keep the designs limited in size for portability. This can help a hardware designer ensure the product is appealing to a large market of potential consumers.

  • Maximize efficiency: The last step that hardware designers can follow is to optimize their products for efficiency. This often means removing unnecessary components and ensuring the product runs quickly and accurately.

Software design principles

Unlike their colleagues in hardware design, software designers are often creating programs for very specific uses within an organization. To support this goal, the principles for software design are:

  • Keep the program simple: The first principle of software design is to keep the program as simple as possible. This can help the program complete its tasks quickly and avoid creating delays in work processes for the professionals using the program.

  • Use a code only once: Many software programs run more efficiently if they can avoid having to read and perform the same line of code multiple times. This can help save the software designer time by limiting the amount of code they have to write for their code to perform its function.

  • Separate the program into modules: Software designers may design programs for a specific purpose, meaning that there could be multiple processes the software performs. Separating each of the processes can help the code remain simple and allow the programmer to access one section of the program at a time and make changes without affecting the other sections of the software.

  • Keep the software secure: Many organizations keep the data they use secure and designing software that supports this goal makes it more marketable. A safe program can also increase the credibility of the designer and ensure that organizations and individual consumers want to use the software.

Graphic design principles

Because professionals in graphic design want to create a visually stimulating product, a lot of their principles overlap with the principles of art. These include:

  • Balance: Balance can cover a lot of different topics, from symmetry to the angle at which words are on a graphic. Professionals use balance to bring an audience's attention to a particular aspect of a graphic design.

  • Contrast: Contrast is how much a particular element or color stands out from another. For example, black and white are perfect contrasts while pale yellow and white aren't. Professionals use contrast to ensure the messages they want to convey are easily visible and draw an audience's attention.

  • Emphasis: Emphasis is where the graphic brings an audience's attention. Size, font, color and other factors can all help to bring emphasis to a particular part of a design.

  • Movement: For some media, professionals use movement to bring an audience to the point they want to make. For example, videographers can control where an audience is looking by turning the camera in a direction ensuring the most important elements of a scene are visible to an audience.

  • Proportion: Proportion is the relative size of one aspect to another. Typically, professionals create designs where the important information is the largest compared to other text or images.

  • Rhythm: In most visual media, rhythm is the occurrence of patterns in the design. For example, a pattern of black and white rectangles can convey the idea of piano keys while a yellow circle with lines coming from it can represent the sun. Professionals often use patterns to bring an audience's attention to the important part of designs and information graphics.

Computer-aided design and drafting principles

While there aren't any standards for principles within computer-aided design and drafting, you can use some aspects from the other areas of computer design. Primarily, combining the functions of hardware and software design can help professionals in CADD create and use their programs for the best results. For example, designing a software program to control a 3D printer while someone designs a system or component on a computer is an example of integrating hardware and software for a single project.

Related: What Is a CAD Engineer?

Benefits of computer design

Below is a list of the benefits you can have by using computer design:

  • Creating designs that are highly accurate, which leads to high-quality output

  • Having a maximum level of control while minimizing cost and labor

  • Having the flexibility to create programs or computer systems that are tailored to your specific needs

  • Having the ability to create and remain relevant to new technologies, techniques and ideas

What to do with a degree in computer design

There are a few careers that you can pursue with a degree in computer design or a relevant subject. These include:

1. Graphic designer

National average salary: $50,845 per year

Primary duties: A graphic designer creates visually attractive media for organizations to use in marketing and advertising campaigns. They may work with project managers, stakeholders and customers during the creative process.

Related: Learn About Being a Graphic Designer

2. Computer systems analyst

National average salary: $70,003 per year

Primary duties: A computer systems analyst reviews computer systems within an organization to ensure the systems remain operating efficiently, resolve issues and suggest ways to improve the systems. They work in almost every industry and are in high demand for their unique sets of skills.

3. Software engineer

National average salary: $115,006 per year

Primary duties: A software engineer creates efficient and safe software programs for a variety of markets, including commercial, private and internal users. They may work with project managers and upper-level executives to create the most tailored and robust software platforms for their intended markets.

Related: Learn About Being a Software Engineer

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