What is design? A brief overview of the design industry

[UPDATED AUG 2018]

Let’s talk design! We’re always surrounded by it, use it in our daily lives, oftentimes even forget how much effort went into coming up with a concept for the simplest things we can’t even imagine living without. Yet fact is, we all have a different answer to the question: What is Design?

AnitaM | What is Design? Overview of Today's Design Industry

Basically, the common definition is: 

Design is a roadmap or a strategic approach for someone to achieve a unique expectation. It defines the specifications, plans, parameters, costs, activities, processes and how and what to do within legal, political, social, environmental, safety and economic constraints in achieving that objective.

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Another, yet rather simpler way to define it:

DE·SIGN [dih-zahyn]

  •  prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans, especially to plan the form and structure of: to design a new bridge.
  • plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.
  • intend for a definite purpose: a scholarship designed for foreign students.
  • form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan: The prisoner designed an intricate escape.
  • assign in thought or intention; purpose: He designed to be a doctor.
  • Obsolete . mark out, as by a sign; indicate.

As you’ve learned from the guys at The School of Life in the video above, there are many  disciplines in design (applied arts, architecture, communication design, engineering design, fashion design, game design, graphic design, information architecture, industrial design, instructional design, interaction design, interior design, landscape architecture, lighting design, military design methodology, product design, process design, service design, software design, web design, urban design and visual design) but since my design expertise & services mainly caters to the web and graphic design industry, I will shift my focus on the before mentioned  two disciplines.

Many people may think design is a simple process that can be done very quick, but fail to account all the phases needed to research, plan and develop successful designs. I have previously shared my thoughts about the importance of hiring a professional designer. Yet, over and over again, I see many businesses & brands take the “do-it-yourself” approach to save money but wonder why most of their campaigns/promotions fail.

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Design takes time, experience & a plan to get it right!

Initial planning stage, execution and corrections are necessary to produce a design that will stand out in the masses and communicate well its intend. So let’s explore the phases of the design process:

1. Pre-production design

  • Design brief – a statement of design goals
  • Analysis – analysis of current design goals
  • Research – investigating similar design solutions in the field or related topics
  • Specification – specifying requirements of a design solution for a product or service
  • Problem solving – conceptualizing and documenting design solutions
  • Presentation – presenting design solutions

2. Design during production

  • Development – continuation and improvement of a designed solution
  • Testing – in situ testing a designed solution

3. Post-production design feedback

  • Implementation – introducing the designed solution into the environment
  • Evaluation and conclusion – summary of process and results
  • Redesign – any or all stages in the design process repeated (with corrections made) at any time before, during, or after production

Question is, how many of your have even considered the many stages to get a design from idea to prototype, and later on to the final design. Perhaps, by keeping all that in mind, you can now understand by good design is NEVER cheap! Many people (or one person with many talents) are involved in the process to get it all done. So think again before you go the diy route next time.

How to find the right designer?

Isn’t everyone a designer nowadays? Surely, technology allows us all to design whatever we can dream of, but does it mean quality outcome and desired results? Another thing to consider, what a seasoned professional can do in few minutes (and gets it right) may take you hours if not days. You must ask yourself: Is it worth to spend hours “playing” designer? Or just outsource the task while focusing on the things you are good at?

And if you decide on outsourcing, you can either hire a professional designer that will get it right and charge you according to the design industry standards, or take advantage of platforms like peopleperhour.com or upwork.com to find “cheaper” options. But be warned, unless you do the research before, you may end up with rather poor quality outcome.

Simply put, you’ll get what you pay for …

Another option is, if you have the required time on hand, to learn the skills required to become a pro. Rewarding for sure but also labor intensive and it will take time to fine tune your skills. Yet, if you’re certain you want to give it a try and start learning web design, I have created a FREE Layout To Launch – WordPress Design Email Course. Enroll below and start designing your website in no time!

 

Conclusion: Moving forward #DESIGNsmart

After covering the basic ideas of what is design, feel free to check out the history of design and take a look at the FREE design tools & resources guide I have put together.

And because I believe in sharing what I know, over the next few weeks I will publish  articles about design (web & graphic), how-to design tutorials and host live streams video related to design.

I invite you to suggest topics in comments below, come back soon  to read more about design & follow the hashtag #DESIGNsmart on social media to be the first to know!

 

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