A tweet the other day posed the question as to whether Designers should still be called this, or whether they would prefer the more generic Creative title. It’s reminded me of similar debates over the years – computer programmer or software engineer, CEO or MD but I thought it might be interesting to discuss why this particular issue is at the forefront, and find out from you how you like to be described. In fact the Designer debate itself has raged for some time. The heart of this debate is that design now encompasses multiple skills and activities and that some non-designers can acquire these skills. Learning to make designs work in traditional and digital space. Making digital design interactive rather than an online static version. Understanding how people behave when confronted with different media and designing to address those behaviours. It doesn’t stop there. The world of apps, whether for iPhone, Android or web has developed a whole new designer genre. And then we add in animations, 3D, games design…not to mention the world of fashion, interiors and style. So perhaps we’re moving away from the idea of a generic designer. Taking the medium and using the adjective to be a designer with a focus, or a specialism. A further complication is that packages and technologies abound. And while they bring more skills to a designer, they also upskill non-designers with the ability to ‘do’ design. We all know about the neighbour’s kid who does web design. And more people describe themselves as a result of this self-taught approach. It’s rather like the ubiquitous use of engineer from anyone who does something technical to a chartered expert, a distinction, or lack of, which has caused professional ructions for many a year. Taking the technology skills a step further and we come up to the point that many designers now have fabulous ‘back-end’ skills, which means they are crossing the divide between development and design. Although come to think of it, front-end designers responsible for UI/UX design have to wear a very technical hat too. So, it’s no wonder that there are question marks over whether ‘designer’ is enough. Or if everyone is a designer, those who originally considered themselves as designers try to be specialists. Or do they move away from the term altogether? To differentiate themselves from the masses, to show that they are creative sparks, rather than just users of software packages to deliver a result, are they in fact the broader Creative? Agencies have always been good at ascribing roles, and Creatives has broadly covered everyone not on the client services side of the business. But is this really enough for Designers. Does it actually describe what they do? OK, it’s great at showing that you’re not just a Mac operator, but does it actually undervalue the very definite skills that you’ve acquired? And does Creative somehow suggest that the technical skills aren’t there? So, it comes down to the classic dinner party situation. If someone asks what you do, does saying you’re a designer actually describe it. Is more elaboration necessary, or do you say I’m a Creative with an enigmatic smile? Do you think saying you’re a designer will make them think that you’re untalented but able to move a mouse effectively? On our exchange we have Creatives covering all the disciplines that ultimately lead to creative work and marketing campaigns being delivered. But within that we’re proud to have a great crowd of designers and all the unique skills and brilliance they bring. So if you’re a designer and proud, let us know! Or if you’ve created a new definition, tell us! And if you’re not already on the exchange, join now!
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