8 Creative Skills to Learn for Digital Learning Day

Did you know that February 23, 2017 is Digital Learning Day?

Digital learning is a broad term – defined as any learning experience that integrates technology. Digital learning is particularly valuable for creatives as a way to up-skill your design knowledge, learn more about a new interest, or even as a way to branch out into a brand-new career field.

Here’s an illustrated, blackboard-style video from Sal Khan, the founder of popular learning site Khan Academy, on what digital learning is:

Okay, but what should I digitally learn?

There are so many different learning websites, courses, and ways to learn that it can be hard to pick just one. We’ve outlined a DIY design curriculum, but today we’ll focus on a few key skills that we think are most valuable for creative types (aka, if we had infinite time to spend on the internet, this is what we’d be learning to do).

1. Learn to draw

I know – I just said that everything is digital, but now I’m picking drawing as my #1 skill to learn – for anyone.

But that’s why the basics of drawing is such a great starting point. There’s nothing quite like pen and paper to make you feel like you’re back in art class. Skip the adult coloring books trend and pick out one tutorial to start with.

Step 1: Draw a unicorn. Step 2: Be a unicorn.

2. Learn Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop

The internet is a cluttered place, and if you want to stand out – with your web design, an article, anything – the standard stock-photos or generic imagery isn’t going to cut it. A little Photoshop can go a long way, and you don’t need to be an expert to take a basic image to the next level – and an article with custom images or illustrations is much more interesting.

Websites like Recode and The Ringer are particularly good examples of inventive, unique styles for feature images – that are all easily achievable with a little bit of basic Illustrator knowledge or a few cool Photoshop actions (seriously – Photoshop actions are like a secret weapon for making cool feature photos).

A quick screenshot-collage of some interesting feature images around the web.

If you’re short on time, check out the Photoshop in 60 seconds series.

If you’re a kid, I recommend this Photoshop for kids series, which includes tutorials on things that kids would definitely want to use Photoshop for, like making funny faces and superhero images.

3. Learn WordPress

WordPress is free and easy, and it’s almost impossible not to run into it in any creative line of work.

I made this featured image on Photoshop. See: #2.

Luckily, it’s simple to use, and as powerful as you want it to be; even this Guide to Learning WordPress is probably more comprehensive than you need to make your own site. Once you’ve picked out a WordPress theme – and maybe used those drawing skills to mock up your design ideas – go deeper and learn how to develop your own plugins (or take the easier route and download some of the bestsellers).

4. Learn CSS

CSS means ~style~. Typography, colors, layout, backgrounds – if you like these things, but aren’t sure what a Flexbox is, then spend some time on these easy-to-navigate tutorials. Then, play around on a site like CodePen (like the example below, which uses less than 100 lines of CSS to create this cool paper cut-out effect).

If our data is any indication, CSS is having a big year, and it’s popularity is only increasing; here are a few of our most popular articles on the Envato Blog, all CSS-related:

  1. 25 Free Web-Based Apps & Tools For Working With CSS
  2. Understanding CSS3 Flexbox for Responsive Design
  3. 20 Snippets for Things You Never Thought Were Possible with CSS
  4. 25 Beautiful & Creative CSS3 Typography Code Snippets
  5. A Collection of Pure CSS Animation Snippets & Demos

5. Learn about SEO and online publishing

SEO! Keywords! Content! Rankings! Backlinks!

If this is what you think of when you think of SEO strategy, then we suggest doing a little reading on our best SEO advice.

SEO (search engine optimization) is a critical component of any publishing on the internet – if you want to be discovered by your audience, then it’s important to your site. But it sometimes gets a bad reputation, and we think that’s a little unfair. One of our resident SEO experts at Envato wrote this in a LinkedIn post, and I think it’s a solid philosophy:

If there is anything you should take away regarding your SEO strategy it’s this: deliver the best, most helpful content you can. Write something which you’d want to read, not just something that you think will draw clicks. If you can’t sum up your message in 156 characters, it’s too complicated.

This tutorial on the State of SEO in 2017 will get you up to speed.

6. Learn a new coding language

What code to learn depends on what you want to do with it. Here’s a helpful chart I found by Googling “which coding language should I learn?”:

Source: Reddit

Lot of options, but if you’re committed to the idea of learning a new coding language, you’ll have the power to build entirely new things on the internet (or just, you know, impress your friends by making your own app).

Check out these complete guides to learning JavaScript, 133 pages of tutorials related to PHP, an intro to Ruby on Rails, a super-friendly Intro to HTML course, and more.

7. Learn to edit audio

Whether you’re interested in composing your own music or producing your own podcast, the basics of audio editing is a handy skill to have. (It’s also really fun to do – like a puzzle). Free, open-source software like Audacity means audio editing is an easy and low-cost skill to pick up.

It’s easy to learn as you go, but I recommend going through a few tutorials to learn the basics.

8. Learn to make videos

Will all content be in video form in the next few years? We’re not sure, but here are some stats from writer Brenda Stokes Barron that indicate the rise (or more accurately, dominance) of video:

  • YouTube has over a billion users, which is almost a third of the Internet population.
  • It’s estimated that content delivery network traffic will deliver over half of all internet video traffic by 2019.
  • On mobile devices, users spend more than 40 minutes watching videos.

If you want to upskill in the most relevant way, spend 3.2 hours learning through this Intro to Video Editing in Adobe Premiere Pro (and if you’re short on time, there’s always these 60-second tutorials).


Happy learning! 

Featured image: Learn

Brittany Jezouit

About the Author Brittany Jezouit

Brittany is a Contributor to the Envato blog. She helped launch the publication and was its founding Editor. You can follow her on Twitter @brittanyjezouit.