Here are the anecdotal observations from David McConaghy our Digital Design consultant about the changes to the design market in the past year and predictions for 2013.
2012 it seems has been the year of the tablet; It is likely they are going to be the most popular Christmas present under the tree this year. People are starting to take them seriously, not just a gimmick that Apple thought up, with strong competition from Samsung, Google and Amazon’s Kindle fire HD. Smart phones too are now affordable, and an everyday accessory to the masses. People are now using their phones and tablets to access all their digital creating new windows of opportunity; through advertising, the design and build of apps and responsive web design. Companies are re-adjusting, as are the individuals within them, most notably their design and development teams.
With flash in decline a lot of Flash Designers have moved to mobile, whether in Mobile Advertising agencies, where they can use their knowledge of flash banner advertising, or more visual/UX roles where some have used their knowledge of interaction picked up from designing and building flash websites.
The need for Visual, UI, or GUI Designers has grown over the last year; companies are screaming out for designers who have experience designing interfaces for mobile, tablet or other UIs, who strive for ‘pixel perfection’, creating highly intricate icons and visually life-like buttons, scrolls, sliders, etc… Apps are treated as products; a useful tool to endeavour to make the user’s life easier, making that piece of information more accessible. With this the projects length tends to be much longer ranging from 3 to 12 months, possibly longer to ensure a visually sound, user friendly product. More designers are open to the possibility of working client-side, with the hope of seeing projects from start to finish, being an integral part of the companies design process.
Agencies specialising in mobile advertising are growing at quite a significant rate, designing banner advertising across all mobile platforms found at the top/bottom of the user’s mobile applications or web page. The banners are able to expand, take over the screen temporarily to preview a new product, film or car coming to market, with embedded videos, content and even games. Nearly everyone has a smart phone, it is a great way to get a company’s message out into the market.
It is also a debate that with this technology advancing and more sites becoming responsive, companies won’t need their own app; looking through your phone a lot of the applications you have on there are websites you would otherwise access on your laptop/desktop. It is likely over the next year or two you will see companies design and develop their site so when using a mobile or tablet device it will have an application feel to it and it will be down to the web browser to improve the user’s favourite’s interface.
There are also changes to a lot of teams; UX and Interaction Designers are becoming essential to any digital project, especially in mobile/tablet. The bigger agencies are seeing worth in a specialist who improves a site, or mobile device application with the user in mind. Some of the larger agencies have been restructuring their digital teams; modelling them on smaller specialist agencies. Changing from the more traditional approach where all the creatives, designers and developers are segregated, to creating project teams which consist of Creatives, Visual/Digital Designers, UX/Interaction Designers, Developers, and a Project Manager. Integrating the team and having everyone on a project in one place allows a lot more room for discussion and development of the project in hand. It has also given these large agencies the ‘boutique agency’ feel, that a lot of people in the industry scout for; the ability to create a tailored product to a large, household brand.
TV is another platform seeing an increase in designer’s portfolios, mainly as it is becoming more interactive; there is huge competition out there for play on demand services from LoveFilm (Amazon), Netflix, Blink Box (Tesco), Now TV (Sky), amongst others. More companies will likely make use of the TV’s interface; creating apps and programs for it, possibly synching information from that to your mobile, tablet or desktop.
Over 2013 expect to see the market develop further in the direction of mobile and tablet, with companies expanding their budgets in this area, either through advertising, or development of their product/service or website. This in turn will result in expansion of interface design departments and agencies, creating more opportunities out there for any designers (visual or interaction), developers and project managers.
You will see ‘Digital Designers’ who have had some experience working on mobile or tablet move into more ‘Visual Designer’ positions, to see a greater depth in a project working on web, mobile, tablet, TV, and other UIs; projects that they can easily relate to, and potentially make use of the end product.
Digital Design within advertising agencies will still flourish, though there will be a further shift in focus from flash banners, email, and standard web design to mobile banners, social media, and responsive web design, across web, mobile and tablet.
To conclude; times are changing, technologies are advancing, and mobile/tablet devices are making their way into the lives of everyone. This is a crucial time, one that could potentially make or break a company, as it did with the dot.com boom, interactive screens will soon be everywhere we look (even more so than they are now), creating new places to advertise, and new platforms to design.
For more information or to see all our roles in Digital Design contact David on 0203 301 9906 or search for Digital Design here.