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Multimedia Designer  What They Do

Just the Facts


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dotYou see the work of multimedia designers every day -- in the design and development of websites, DVDs, CD-ROMs and games for the Internet. Multimedia designers also work in print design and publishing.

As their job title suggests, multimedia designers work in a variety of different areas of media. Their duties vary, and a designer may do everything from brainstorming ideas to developing graphics to writing computer code. A good multimedia designer needs to have strong artistic ability as well as top-notch computer skills.

Multimedia products combine different elements, including graphics, sound, text, animation, still images and digital video. A multimedia designer usually specializes in one or two of these areas.

"Multimedia design and development is a career that comes with a lot of options and paths to explore and excel in," says Jess Petrella. She's a multimedia designer.

"I think you need to be able to do some graphic design... some web design... some web development, and then if you can do some video work or 3-D work, it's a bonus," says Matthew Cramer. He's a multimedia developer in Nashville, Tennessee.

Multimedia designers are also called multimedia developers or multimedia specialists, among other titles.

"I struggled with how to define myself, and I still do, to some degree," says Allen Ellis. He's a multimedia specialist who specializes in motion graphics and video at an event productions company in Orlando, Florida.

"'Multimedia specialist,' in some ways, is kind of a vague description," says Ellis. "And I chose it because... I get excited and interested about lots of different things that are multimedia, from audio to print to video."

A multimedia project can involve a lot of people working together. This makes people skills essential.

"For me, it's been hugely important being on a team, because I didn't have that when I was freelancing," says Ellis. "When I was freelancing I had to substitute it by contacting a lot of friends and intentionally sending my work out to a lot of people before I released it [for feedback]. In an office environment I have the benefit of being required to pool the whole office over my computer and to get feedback regularly. And that has been immensely helpful."

While some multimedia specialists work for major companies on a permanent basis, most work on a contract basis. They take on contracts, or projects. Many designers have their own companies and work with a team of multimedia designers.

"I really enjoy multimedia because it's so accessible," says Ellis. "A lot of the tools that we use in this industry aren't terribly expensive, so it was just easy for me to pick it up and to start practicing and to start enjoying it."

Web page design is a big part of many multimedia designers' work these days. You'll need to be Internet-savvy if you plan on entering this career!

You'll also need to keep upgrading those skills. Bob Gerard is a multimedia designer. He stays on top of new trends in technology. "I would suggest keeping an open mind to lifelong learning and learning any accompanying coding that goes hand-in-hand with any of the software packages...," he says. "Coding will definitely open more doors."

Most of the work is done at a desk. There aren't many physical demands, other than the physical stress that can come with spending most of the day sitting in a chair.

Most multimedia designers work a 40-hour week. This may vary as project deadlines approach. Self-employed designers tend to work longer hours because of the time it takes to handle the business side of things (marketing, sales and administration).

At a Glance

Create programs for websites, DVDs, CD-ROMs and games for the Internet

  • Strong artistic ability and top-notch computer skills are required
  • Specialize in graphics, sound, text, animation, still images or digital video
  • Many colleges and universities now offer multimedia design courses