Rethinking our roles as designers

A few days ago I was talking to a friend about how the relationship between people and companies has changed and how it will continue to change in the future. During this conversation, he sent me an article about the subject and, as a designer, I started to think about how design is seen by most people and how its concept has changed throughout the years.

The article showed a research made by Oxford University which concluded that technology reduces the need for certain jobs quicker than it creates new. They say that more than 43% of existing jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. It’s a lite bit shocking but true… The question that remains is: what can we do in order to don’t lose the meaning in our professional lives?

My friend, Hugo, shared something that I agreed. He said that graphic design as an ability based profession is going to die. Actually, it’s already happening. I remember when I got my degree in graphic design in 2010. It was appreciated and it was differentiating if you had experience working with Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign.

But think about it. It is just software manipulation, anyone can learn to do that. Due to the ease of technology access, you don’t need a degree in design or to hire a designer in order to have a layout of a website, a business card or even a logo. There are so many tools and website services that offer all of these so much faster and cheaper than a designer would do.

Calm down, I’m not saying anyone can do a good job or that aesthetic is not important, but the essence of design is (or should be) much deeper. This kind of services or software should just be seen as executors while designers ought to be seen as thinkers.

Quoting John M. Eger: “We have forgotten how to take risks. We have forgotten how to think out loud-without embarrassment. We are not empathetic but mostly transactional whenever we do attempt to solve any problem. In fact, we often come up with a solution before we have really thought about the problem. Design learning/thinking, helps people think outside the box, think broadly.

Design is about empathy, taking risks and solving problems. Design is about strategy that begins long before the final product that your eyes see.

So, in answer to the question of what can we do to maintain the meaning in our professional lives, i would say this: designers have to continue taking advantage of their characteristics as individuals — like creativity, inspiration, and critical thinking — knowing that they generate more value than only a great visual work.

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