Get better at design with these free online courses. Earn a certificate to help you get your next gig, or simply learn how to design better marketing visuals for your business.
Marketing design is a vast field that encompasses a plethora of different designs, from social media to website design and branding. For that reason, it could be said that learning marketing design is basically learning graphic design.
Small businesses owners should think twice before designing their own marketing assets since poor design can harm their brand image and prevent them from reaching their goals. Still, some simple assets can be done with many useful online tools or well-known design software. However, you must learn the basics of graphic design if you want to do this successfully.
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On the other hand, designers who have so far focused on other projects (e.g. UX/UI designers), or newbies to the graphic design world can learn a lot from online courses; perhaps even get set up for their first graphic design gig!
Here are some of the best free marketing design courses that can help you design better visuals.
Best graphic design courses for professionals
Here are some of the best advanced courses perfect for marketing designers or those looking to get their foot in this field. Of course, if you want to become a better marketing designer, you might want to consider taking a marketing or perhaps a social media marketing course instead.
However, for the purposes of this list, we’ll stick to design-focused courses for people that either have some basic design skills or want to learn graphic design in order to become a professional designer.
CalArts Graphic Design Specialization
This free course is offered by the California Institute of Arts through Coursera. It covers some of the fundamentals of graphic design as well as a look at the history of design and ideas you might want to apply to contemporary projects.
Although the course is beginner-friendly, we’re putting it in this section, it offers a strong focus on design theory, so it might be more useful for someone looking to start a career as a graphic designer, rather than create some ad hoc graphics.
Designing 4 Advertisements in a Series
If you’re not a total beginner, this course is a course that will use a use case to explain the process of designing ads in Adobe Illustrator and cover some of the most important decisions you have to make as a design, such as the placement of the CTA or use of contrast to make an ad eye-catching but not overbearing.
Online Graphic Design Course
While there are plenty of courses that can help you brush up your skills or learn the basics, there aren’t quite as many that allow you to earn a certificate which can be helpful when applying for graphic design jobs.
This course from Shaw Academy allows you to take the course for free with their limited free trial offer. The course covers the basic principles as well as all the core skills you need to have as a professional designer. One of the modules includes brochure design, which can be helpful for applying for a role as a marketing designer.
Social Media Mastery
If you want to become a marketing designer, there’s no way of avoiding social media! Perhaps you’re a skilled logo designer, but to be able to master designing for social media you will need to learn a slightly different approach.
This Canva course covers the theory behind designing for social media (goals setting and finding a style), as well as practical skills such as video editing. It’s only about 30 minutes long, so it in no way is a comprehensive course on the topic. But if you want to get into the mindset of a social media marketing designer, be sure to check it out.
Facebook Ad Creative
This is actually a combination of 5 different courses that cover different aspects of creating ads on Facebook: from optimizing for mobile to stories. It’s a terrific course for graphic designers who want to learn the ins and outs of Facebook ads.
Free graphic design classes for beginners
Want to learn the basics and start creating useful visuals for your business in no time? Then some of these great free courses are definitely worth checking out.
Beginners Guide to Graphic Design Without Paid Software
If you’re a business owner doing your own design, this online course is definitely one to bookmark! Although a professional designer needs professional software, if you simply want to tweak existing templates or make simple visuals, a free version can still do wonders.
The course covers how to create graphic design (including video editing) in several programs including Canva, an app called Typorama, Google’s AutoDraw, RawShot (video editing and animations) and Preview (photo editing software available for Mac computers).
The course doesn’t go into full detail on all the possibilities of these design courses, but it’s a good starting point to tell you what’s out there and the possibilities of DIY design.
Adobe Photoshop CS6 Essential Tools
Adobe Photoshop is one of the most well-known graphic design software, but you can often hear that it has a steep learning curve. This is probably true. If you’ve only ever used intuitive drag-and-drop alternatives, getting to grips with Photoshop can be a bit of a challenge.
Luckily this free online course covers all the essential tools of Photoshop. If your marketing assets use photographs, this course is a great way to learn how to improve their quality and make them look professional even if they weren’t done by a professional photographer.
Adobe Illustrator for Beginners
Whether you’ve never used Illustrator or tried to and got overwhelmed, this course is right for you. You will learn the basics of working in this all-time favorite program for creating vector graphics, including skills like drawing and creating patterns.
You’ll also learn how to create and manipulate different design elements such as text, shapes, lines and icons.
If you’re looking to master one professional design software, then Illustrator is probably the best choice, thanks to its range of options and possibilities for creating versatile marketing graphics. And, since it’s an Adobe software, if you ever decide to do so, getting to grips with others such as Photoshop will be much easier subsequently.
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Canva for Beginners
When you think of DIY design, the first thing that probably comes to mind is Canva. This beautiful and fund drag-and-drop web app allows you to create anything from social media posts to presentations and even web design! You can choose from hundreds of their free and paid templates, or design something from scratch.
Canva is very easy and intuitive to use, but if you would like to use it to its full potential, then you should definitely check out this course. Aside from the basics, you’ll learn about Canva’s more advanced features such as collaborative design process and audio and video editing.
Introduction to Graphic Design
There are plenty of similar graphic design courses online that are similar to this one; for example, Udemy has a great one, however, you would have to pay for it.
For a free version, we suggest you check out this course available on LinkedIn. You’ll be introduced to basic design principles and get a hands-on perspective of working with programs like Photoshop and InDesign.
This is a great type of course for entrepreneurs and business owners to take, not just as a way of bettering your DIY marketing graphics. One day, when you can perhaps afford to hire a professional designer, knowing the basics can make the collaboration and design process a lot easier and smoother.