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The future of a designer

Sometimes a birthday can serve more purposes than just celebrating. This one-day of the year can also make you question, “Where am I going?”

I realize people often make predictions of the future that are way off. While some thought everyone would be flying to work by now instead, we have made leaps and bounds in other areas like communication. I’m not surprised really, what if someone invented a car but couldn’t tell someone else how to make it?

Last week an article caught my eye, 5 Design Jobs That Won’t Exist In The Future, which seems like a real downer but the last half of the article was about “Design Jobs that will grow”. So with my slight breeze of optimism, I also read: The Most Important Design Jobs Of The Future and How Visual Designers Can Stay Relevant In A Post-Screen World.

The days of being a one trick pony are over. Everyone must be a hybrid. “What are needed instead are designers who can not only come up with the look of an idea, but make it real, with actual programming and prototyping skills” says Charles Fulford, Executive Creative Director of Elephant, the San Francisco-based, Apple-centric stealth arm of the digital agency Huge. Not everyone likes this way of thinking but look around, consider the list of skills you have noticed in your co-workers. Job descriptions are becoming longer and longer lists.

Okay, scary part is over. Let’s think about what a designer might be thinking about and doing in the future.

This is what I think is exciting… screens will become less important! We are already experiencing this trend with products like Amazon’s Echo, and you DO know Siri on an iPhone isn’t a real person right? We are finally moving away from having to navigate to find what you need, instead, just say out loud the question in your head and you will get an answer. Someday we will be able to ask, “How should I get home?” and based on your past decisions, getting home will be the least of your concerns. Siri has already set up an Uber driver to pick you up at your current location and sent the driver directions to get you home.

If you’re a web designer, it’s nice to know we won’t have to be glued to a screen all the time. But still, what will a designer do? It seems to me more big picture thinking will be involved. More like how I envisioned I would be spending my time as a designer in high school. I had no idea I would spending my time on small details like deciding if 10 pt. type is too small. I would tell my production designer to deal with that Ha! Ha! Which never happened by the way. Instead, we are going to tell machines to make these decisions by selecting the appropriate algorithm or robot. Remember Rosie on the TV show “The Jetson’s”?

So it seems to me, if I want to still be a designer in the next 15 to 20 years down the road, I need to keep plugging away by challenging myself to learn more about different types of code, platforms and know what can do what. Because maybe someday I will be choosing which robot is the best choice for delivering groceries instead of which font is more easily read.



Why do I work at AWG? “It’s hard to find a native Kansan who doesn’t have family living in a small town community... and I am no exception. My family tree is full of farmers who have helped put food on our tables for over 100 years. So when I hear of a small town’s only grocery store closing down it hits home. Even though I now live in a big city, I like to know through my work I can help keep small independent grocery stores stay open for future generations to enjoy.” -Sharlyn