Is design losing its humanity? No one would suggest that computers are as adept as talented humans at creating innovative designs — yet — but technology has been making a significant impact on design-related professions in the last few years.
In some cases, technology has lessened the amount of contact designers have with clients, colleagues and professional development organizations, causing a shift in the way the public relates to the profession.
But when used judiciously and with some forethought, technology can reintroduce a strain of much-needed humanity into these essentially creative disciplines.
Technology’s impact on the design process
I never design a building before I’ve seen the site and met the people who will be using it.
– Frank Lloyd Wright
When undertaking to design something, one has in mind the intended function of the product one is creating. One of the biggest challenges a graphic designer will face is to work with the client to triangulate the visual elements, ergonomic concerns and brand qualities that will result in the most efficient realization of the product’s intended function.
In product design, this could mean creating the most elegant and ergonomic computer mouse. In graphic design, it often means creating a logo. Web designers need to understand the quickest and most effective ways to translate their clients’ business ideas into functional and marketable websites.
In the past, the process of turning a client’s brief into a product was conducted by face-to-face meetings. Now, many clients prefer to submit briefs electronically and get work back the same way.
Without these face-to-face meetings, which were the cornerstone of the client-designer relationship, designers who lack writing or technical skill might find themselves unable to accurately convey their technical and creative prowess. And without the face-to-face experience of discussing a project, can a designer ever be sure they know what the client wants?
Increase speed, decreased efficiency
Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.
– Charles Eames
While working long distance may seem like an efficient change to the industry’s business model, on closer inspection and experience, one realizes that without human contact, communicating ideas effectively is harder and less precise. Without clear communication between client and designer, the process is prolonged, thus reducing the designer’s efficiency.