When desktop publishing, Photoshop, and other imaging technologies first hit the scene, graphic designers were among the first to recognize that mastering new technologies would sooon become an integral part of their jobs. Still, few people really envisioned how rapidly and radically advances in digital imaging, digital printing, communications, and the Internet would transform the world of business and commerce. The “rules” are marketing and publishing are being rewritten every day. Here’s a quick rundown of major challenges and opportunities for graphic designers.
Global competition. Easy access to global online providers of low-cost or do-it-yourself template-driven design services has eroded the prices for common types of graphic-design services.
Constant training and equipment updating. The shift away from print advertising and print publications to new forms of Internet advertising and interactive media requires designers to continually update their skills and computer hardware and software. Designers are typically on the leading edge of figuring out how to make new forms of communications click with users.
Multi-channel marketing demands speed and flexibility. High volumes of graphics often must be produced under tight deadlines. In addition to producing graphics for multiple forms of media, the messaging often must be customized and directed to narrower audiences. Production speed and efficiency are essential.
Keeping up with changes in consumer preferences. Graphic designers must stay attuned to the fast-changing trends and preferences within audiences of different generations, cultural backgrounds, and tech-savvy.
Expanded roles and changing expectations. Companies expect designers to add value by differentiating their brands, products, or customer experience. Designers can expand their roles by helping organizations prepare for the next wave of changes in technology, communications, and society.
Mass customization and personalization. The incredible versatility of large-format, on-demand, and 3D printing has opened new opportunities for all types of products, books, and décor to be custom designed. Designers can work with a broader range of clients and come up with new ideas for vehicle wraps, wallcoverings, environmental graphics, fabrics, clothing, jewelry, and home furnishings.
New business models for design firms. Entrepreneurial designers can use the Internet to sell a wide range of their own custom-designed products and services.
Integrated, cross-media marketing. Designers will play a key role in implementing integrated marketing campaigns that will influence consumers at a variety of touchpoints including social networks, websites, blogs, e-mail, smartphones, printed materials, trade-show graphics, and point-of-purchase. Many corporations are developing sophisticated content-publishing operations that will rival traditional editorial publishing operations.