Design Democratization

DesignDemocracyI believe we are in an era of design democratization, where everyone has been empowered with the tools they need to create some well designed out-of-the-box design solutions. Products like WordPress (which this site was created in) or SquareSpace,etc., allow everyone to create a web site in minutes, with a pretty terrific range of design options to choose from. And digital printing is getting better all the time. It is like reliving the advent of the Desktop Publishing, where everyone instantly became a designer.

As a young designer I was appalled by the snobbery of the design profession. We had a big name designer lecture at our school once, and I remember him showing slide after slide pictures of ugly consumer products and making fun of them. It would of been funny except that most of the stuff he projected were products we had in the house I grew up in. It was the only stuff my folks could afford. Good design was not available to folks like my parents, yet somehow we all managed to survive this onslaught of bad design and become successful adults.

Fortunately the world has evolved, and good design is now available to everyone at an affordable price. You can walk into Target and buy a Michael Grave’s designed ironing board for only $60. Or go to an Ikea and be inundated with affordable, well-designed products.

So why go to a professional designer anymore if there so much available off the shelf?

Because design is not just a pretty face, nor a knee jerk reaction to a need. It’s the thoughtful consideration of a set of communication goals, the questioning of the premise of the stated objective, and then a thorough investigation of possible solutions to the challenge. What differentiates us as professionals is our ability to think analytically and strategically about what we are creating, not pigeon holing you into a pre-designed solution.

The process of design requires that you continually question the direction of any potential solution against the objective of the project, that it works within the overall brand strategy, that the hierarchy of messaging achieves the communication goals, and of course that it achieves the overall aesthetic quality that makes it stand out in a crowd.

And with everyone screaming louder and louder, with blogs, and tweets, etc., careful examination of what is being said, and how it is being said, becomes even more critical. As designers and communicators, we bring a level of restraint and discipline to the communications that we create, so that the messages being communicated can be heard over the deafening roar of the crowd. -PK

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