Welcome: New Designers

August 27, 2010

Next week is the start of a new semester in Communications Design, as is many other design programs across the country and around the world. Thousands of students are starting their design careers in classrooms, a little nervous, confused, and a little bit stressed out. On the other side of the coin they are excited, passionate and ready to go. One good thing about the academic calendar is that the fall semester is about new beginnings, rebirth and a clean slate. I thought that I would read to our sophomores these two quotes by Marty Neumeier, President of Neutron about the world that, as designers, we have to work in.

“Thanks to unprecedented marker clutter, differentiation is becoming the most powerful strategy in business and the primary beneficiary of innovation. So, if innovation drives differentiation, what drives innovation? The answer, hidden in plain sight, is design. Design contains the skills to identify possible futures, invent exciting products, build bridges to customers, crack wicked* problems, and more. The fact is, if you wanna innovate, you gotta design.”

* A wicked problem is a puzzle so persistent, pervasive, and slippery that it can seem insoluble.

This is the world you are designing for:

“… where customers control the company, jobs are avenues of self expression, the barriers to competition are out of control, strangers design your products, fewer features are better, advertising drives customers away, demographics are beside the point, whatever you sell you take back, and best practices are obsolete at birth; where meaning talks, money walks, and stability is fantasy; where talent trumps obedience, imagination beats knowledge, and empathy trounces logic.”

Now we are ready to start learning about design.