LukeW: It’s a Great Time to Be a Designer

From LukeW — I included part of the article so people can understand the environment they are being hired into. There aren’t as many specialists anymore. Remember that as you design your career.

Jared Spool talked about the reasons why designers are in high demand today and what skills that and their organizations need to deliver great experience design. Here’s my notes from his talk:

  • If we want teams to build great experiences, we need different skills like copy writing, information architecture, design process management, user research practices. And understanding of technology, roi, social networks, marketing, analytics, business knowledge, story telling, and more.
  • Though the number of skills required is increasing, the number of people on teams is decreasing. We can no longer compartmentalize. We all need to cover more than one skill.
  • The economics in most companies don't support specialists. They need generalists. Even specialists have general skills they trained over years before specializing in a particular area.
  • Not every company can afford to hire specialists. Regional economics drive specialization. It only exists when there is enough demand. In fact, in very high demand economies only specialists can survive. It should be noted that specialization is not compartmentalization. Specialists have the breadth of skills across their entire discipline but the bulk of their experience is within their specialty.
  • Designers need to be careful not to compartmentalize themselves.
  • Don't have specialists do what they are best at, have them teach it to others. Teaching what you do makes you better at it.
  • Designers that code can create prototypes know what's possible in development and can better communicate with developers. Knowing to code makes them a better designer.
  • "I really want to do strategy" is the new "I want to direct". But design is about making things. Good strategy is about knowing how to make things.
That last point is really important. Most of us don’t have the luxury to spend three to six months in a cave and come out with a product; we should be able to iterate quickly and come up with ideas that show business and user value. It’s up to us to tell companies the quickest way to add value and make it cool.