Part 1: The role of visual designers in 2030 – the holistic design approach
Julie Kechter / Visual Designer at VUI.agency / 01.04.2021
To talk about what might happen in our near future, we have to look at the current state of visual design.
What are Visual Designers doing right now at their working desks? Well, we are mostly hired for our visual craft skills, meaning creating everything a brand, an artist, a book, or a room is communicating to you on a visual level. And then sometimes if your education implied a marketing focus as well, we are also hired for our brand strategy skills. So what is the problem with that? And why is this state changing or does it even have to change?
The graphic design challenges of only creating visuals
Creating visual communication media only can be very challenging sometimes. Because what happens when we design something is, we question a certain topic to get to the best visual solution for it and on this path of creating we generate a lot of ideas. Ideas that can be visual solutions for something but also often turn out to be beneficial communication improvements for the project in general.
So this creation path is often the starting fork at the end of the ideation process.
The holistic design approach today
Now we are standing in front of a forking path with no ability to freely choose for one or the other because remember: we are only hired for our visual craft skills. So from ideating a holistic communication-design vision, you have to go down the hall of creating only visuals and drop the other ideas because usually, you don’t get access or permission to enter this other path with all your colleges on it, developing the product or service while running around to make it more in more perfect.
Development vs. visual design vs. marketing
Now we are getting near to understanding the necessity of why changing the role of a Visual Designer is so important for the product or service development process.
We need to get rid of those static boxes we are putting ourselves and others into. We need to start creating processes, that are more fluid and organic just the way our human lives are structured as well.
/ Julie Kechter
As a human being, you might be a woman, a mother, a lover and a child all at the same time. There is simply no way in our human lives to take just one role. Why would I have to do that in my Visual Designer working life?
As Visual Designers, we take two seats. We are visually communicating the developed product/service and strategically thinking about how to ideally position it on the market. That means we are sitting between Development and Marketing. This is the creating-visuals-seat.
But then we are often also taking an additional seat on top of those three, which is the holistic-communication-seat.
The holistic-communication–seat of the Visual Designer
What do we do here? We are taking the seat of the observer.
That means that we’re looking at all the sectors from above and realizing whether it all makes sense. Whether the whole project is communicating one thing and the whole message is clear to the users and reaches them in a comprehensive manner. We are ensuring a holistic communication of a certain product or service.
To create this holistic design approach ecosystem, you need to talk about this potential holistic-communication seat that you want to take as a visual designer with your supervisor, who might have missed it so far. And sometimes even with more stakeholders from the project.
Then you need to make all of your latent strengths visible and make a strong case why taking this seat would be very beneficial not only for the project but also for your employer (read more about benefits for the employer in Part 2: The role of a visual designer in 2030 – the holistic design approach).
The future work expertise of a visual designer.
Why is as a holistic design approach better for your product or service, you might ask? By letting the Visual Designer take the holistic-communication-seat, you are adding two new highly important skills to your team:
On top of the other sectors, you are additionally positioning the Visual Designer on a meta-level, that enables objective observation. Although the Visual Deisgner is neither truly a developer nor a marketing specialist, we still have to understand both sides and have the ability to sync these different sectors. So, while creating visuals in between those two, the Visual Designer is perfectly able and in fact already needs to objectively observe the requirements of both Development and Marketing. Why not let us communicate our observations as well and implement them into the working process?
Why is objective observation a beneficial skill for my team?
By having this extra outside the bubble perspective and allowing the Visual Designer to communicate between departments, you can maximize the full potential of a project. The developing team no longer gets stuck in perfecting what is already perfect, but also starts focusing on a polished costumer journey with less gaps and frustration, and more user benefits and shorter steps. On the other side, the marketing team can emphasize exactly those benefits and channel the holistic vision of the certain product or service to the right target group.
That way, your product/service becomes more meaningful for the user, which makes them more loyal and engaged. Enabling the user to eventually even advocate for your vision and help your business reach even more people.
Cross-thinking, cross–linking in Visual Design
A second skill focuses on reaching the best version of your product/service idea.
A lot of Visual Designers are cross-thinkers and therefore preserve a talent of getting inspired by random, unrelated content and topics to create a new cross-linking point. This enables them to come up with original and innovative ideas, which gives you as a team and as a company the great benefit of adding new features to your product/service idea, that the developing team on its own would have never thought about.
So, adding the cross-thinking skill to your team will make your final product/service even more attractive and beneficial to the world.
The holistic design approach in 2030 – From static boxes to organic growing
Coming back to the idea of creating more fluid and organic workflows: All the benefits mentioned in this article make it very tangible and necessary to unbox our processes and organically include visual designers from the beginning of a product or service development.
These are the two scenarios that I see happening right now:
The static boxes scenario
Either you develop a product or service, then make the Visual Designer wrap a nice coat around it and give it to the marketing to spread it on the market. In which way you get a mildly successful, sometimes slightly schizophrenically behaving, brand as a result.
Or you put all those three sectors in one pot to grow an even bigger product/service idea with a cohesive Visual Branding and even a bigger impact on the market.
Why taking the organic growth approach will lead to a bigger impact.
It is cohesion, what creates tremendous satisfaction in our human brains. That means when something makes sense, we start to feel satisfied and to trust. Creating a cohesive holistic design, therefore, makes your user trust in your product, which gives you the ultimate key to raising a big impact with your brand.
That’s why I invite you to create a holistic communication process, that is cohesive across departments and includes visual designers from the beginning of the development process, to expand your brand’s outstanding innovation power, and to gain the trust and satisfaction of your potential clients and therefore gain growth for your business.
So, dear managers, stop making your Visual Designers choose one path and unbox your working processes to gain the impact your idea deserves!