It has become utterly apparent to me recently that we are in a state of transition in the design world.
Over the past decade we have been introduced to a myriad of new platforms including smart phones and tablets, which have completely transformed the way we view design in the modern age. Gone are the days where the role of a designer was to create pretty letterhead and expertly kerned business cards; In 2016 we have emerged as a creative tour de force, and the need for critical thinkers has never been in higher demand. We have evolved into quick-thinking business people, marketers, researchers, psychologists, and strategists, and we are just getting started.
Do you remember when the iPhone came out? Do you remember the hype?
The idea of having one spot for your calendar, calculator, camera, photos, notes, weather and beyond was a sight to behold, and unlike anything we had seen before. The platform created a foundation of endless possibilities for tool creation, and altered our perspective towards everyday conventions from gaming to productivity.
With the advent of the app store, designers were forced to think about how their designs could be stretched, tapped, moved and swiped, and launched into a mindset that transcended their static predecessors.
A GAME CHANGER
The first iPhone paved the way for how we evaluate design today. There have been many versions of the device since then, but this complex invention was one of the first examples of the beautiful marriage between design and technology.
Nearly ten years later, we are able to control virtually any situation from the palm of our hands. There is truly an app for everything these days, and we are becoming extremely efficient at creating tailored one off experiences that produce short term results.
Even then, I can not help but think to myself, how long does this app culture last?
As design solutions become more complex, dare I say, we are outgrowing the days where an app is the only answer to our problems.
That’s not to say that they are not a vital role in the design ecosystem, because they are. However, over the past couple years we have started to see companies (and their designers within) start to shift the focus from quick, siloed design solutions to a more systematic approach. From a company’s website to their app to their advertising to their corporate structure, design is starting to spread like wildfire in companies small and large, and the general public is beginning to take copious notes.
We have seen companies like Google, Apple, and Airbnb emerge as design power-houses, and it is clear that their investment in good design has had an effect on their perception and ultimately their ROI. They have created design languages and systems that allow anyone to properly execute their brand guidelines, and it is clear that every detail matters.
Most notably, however, is the way in which such companies are perceiving not only what they design, but how they design it. Companies such as IDEO, argodesign, and IBM have created design thinking methods to standardize the process of creation, ultimately allowing for quicker, more robust results down the line.
This is an exciting time to be a designer of any sort, and the rate at which our profession is expanding is truly astounding. It’s basically the wild west in terms of whats to come, and sometimes we have to remind ourselves that the technologies that we have come to love and appreciate are less than a decade old.
I leave you with this thought: as we continue to further the progress of design, keep in mind that your work is often times just one piece of the puzzle. As you evaluate your work, think of its place in the larger system. Think critically, stay curious, and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to take chances!