What is a Designer?

Posted 11:44 AM by Philippa Hoey in

A designer is a business professional who develops solutions to commercial needs that require the balancing of technical, commercial, human and aesthetic requirements.

A designer can be said to be both technician and artist.

A designer plans things for manufacture or construction. The difference between a designer and a craftsperson or artist is that designers usually develop things that have requirements set by others and will ultimately be produced by others.

Design serves industry

Design is a commercial activity. Professional design grew out of a need for skilled individuals who could plan products and environments that would appeal to customers. An essential part of design is the preparation of plans and instructions that will allow for the accurate production of the design by others rather than the designer also performing the production task.

Defining design

Design is a widely used word. It is applied to any process where an outcome is being planned rather than relying on chance. So people in all sorts of occupations speak of designing aspects of their business activities. In many cases they are using the word as a synonym for plan.

Design is also a term used by technical professionals such as engineers or software developers. These professionals must reconcile the technical and commercial requirements of projects.

The fundamental difference between the two preceding examples and the definition of design as applied by design professionals represented by the Design Institute of Australia is the skill of incorporating the human, cultural and aesthetic aspects of projects.

Rational creativity

The requirements that a designer works to are both objective and subjective. The objective requirements are easy to understand. They are technical and business requirements that allow for measurement and direct comparison. How much will it cost? What is the best material? When can it be finished by?

It’s the subjective, creative side of design that’s hardest to explain and hardest for most people to understand. The aesthetic side of design relates to fashion, human behaviour, emotion and cultural influences such as the cultural meaning of symbols.

Designers are immersed in the visual language of their culture and industry specialisation.

Designers bring human and cultural values to business problems, values that sell products and services, create demand and inspire customer confidence and loyalty.

Design is a planning process. It produces the best solution based on the stated business objectives and the information and resources available. It uses a methodical procedure to ensure that solutions are well thought out and all the known criteria for success are considered.

Design as a strategic business tool

Design is a strategic tool used to gain market advantage by companies operating at an international level. Their products, their branding, their promotion and their business premises are all designed to maximise customer acceptance of the goods and services they have to offer and to optimise the day to day operation of their business.

The benefits of design are also available to national and local businesses. The process can always be tailored to the resources available. However the available resources will limit the viable design solutions.

Specialist designers for all industries

There are professional designers that provide a balance of technical and subjective skills that match the business needs of many industry areas. Whether you manufacture furniture, provide banking, build cars or sell wine there is a design professional who can help you improve your business.

Design skilfully bridges technical and marketing requirements to put sizzle into a product, desire into a promotion or confidence into an interior.

Working for you and your customer

Designers must balance the needs of their employers with the needs of the intended users of the design. These are often the employer’s customers.

If the design doesn’t meet the needs or desires of the end user, rather than just the commissioner of the work, then sales will be compromised.

In addition designers must reconcile their own standards of aesthetics, quality and ethics with the requirements of the intended commercial purpose of their work. Both designer and client should also consider community values and constraints.

Designers have the skills to increase the market acceptance and profitability of your products, premises and services.

Professional designers bring to your project extensive training and a wealth of experience. Use their expertise and product knowledge to expand your ideas, solve problems, offer unique solutions, save time and money.

Design embodies the full range of problem solving skills from those that are strictly rational, analytical and objective to those that are inspirational, artistic and subjective.

Graphic Design/Visual Communication

Graphic designers develop and prepare information for publication with particular emphasis on clarity of communication and the matching of information styles to audience requirements.

Graphic designers sometimes refer to their area of specialisation as visual communication and some university courses use this as the course title.

The information they deal with not only requires a sound understanding of text based communication but also requires them to skilfully use the communication properties of symbols, colours and pictures.

They prepare concept layouts and mock-ups to discuss project details with clients. They prepare or subcontract diagrams, illustrations and photography. They resolve all communication elements into a final format to suit the required physical or digital media.

They select paper and other printing materials, resolve manufacturing details and produce instructions for others involved in the reproduction process. They organise and oversee proofs and colour separations to prepare for printing and liaise with suppliers who specialise in the many forms of digital and computer based information distribution mechanisms.

Graphic designers often work as part of a project development team. While other specialists such as marketing managers and advertising specialists work on the strategies of distributing information to the market place and determining beneficial product positioning the graphic designer may be working on the image and branding that will appeal to and attract the intended customer.

The immense volume of visual material produced to support both commercial and cultural purposes means that the areas of employment open to graphic designers are very broad. There are many opportunities for employment within companies that have constant graphic requirements as well as great scope for self employment selling services to businesses and organisations with only occasional needs.

The rapidly developing areas of digital media relating to the internet and multimedia business presentations are opening up new areas of employment for graphic designers.

ANZSCO (2006) occupation code 232411

What you’ll study

    * Design Theory & Practice

    * Communication Skills

    * Materials & Media

    * Printing Processes

    * Design History

    * Presentation Drawing

    * Illustration & Photography

    * Computer Aided Graphic Design

    * Digital Media

    * Business Management

Where you’ll work

    * Advertising Agencies

    * Public Relations Firms

    * Design Consultancies

    * Government & Business Promotion Departments

    * Desk Top Publishing

    * Web Design

    * Printing Companies

    * Packaging Companies

    * Manufacturer’s Promotion Departments

    * Publishers

    * Newspapers

    * Magazines

    * Self Employment

Other areas you’ll find work

    * Television Studios

    * Computer Games Development

    * Exhibition & Display

    * Museums

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