Ah, the world of Technology. It helps us manage our increasingly hectic life and career and keep in touch with everyone with whom we are connected personally and professionally.
However, the biggest question that comes to the mind of many in the design industry is: does all this comfort and instant communication really improve our ability to design outstanding performance for our customers?
In this article, we will look at some of the main side effects of computer and Internet technology from a designer’s perspective and also look at some possible fixes for the most common problems so that we as designers can change the face of technology rather than the other way around.
Don’t talk to me?
Have you looked around recently? Chances are, wherever you are, there is a group of people with their heads down or ears inserted into a Gadget. It may even include you. Eh bien…si you read this article online, of course, it includes you. But people who look at their phones, tablets or other devices in public are almost a universal Signal for “Don’t talk to me.”
It’s hilarious in a way; a communication device that blocks real communication. We live in very strange times…
As a Designer, it becomes increasingly difficult to communicate with our customers face to face because their faces are behind their Gadgets. Personally, I have only met three of my independent clients in the last five years. I find this remarkable, and yet I wonder if this fact has influenced the quality of my work or the satisfaction of my clients. I never had any indication that a client was dissatisfied simply because they couldn’t meet me in person. If they were, they probably wouldn’t have hired me in the first place. Will you?
As an industry, designers are increasingly turning to the Internet, both as a source of income and as a source of Inspiration for new projects. Designers Read industry blogs and absorb all the fascinating new work produced by their colleagues at a rate that no one can reasonably keep up with. Every morning my email and RSS feeds are crammed with amazing work that inspires me and helps me set new goals for myself as a designer.
All of this is fine, but I doubtful that we, as a community, are slowly moving away from being inspired by the “real world,” as great designers were before us.
Nowadays, we immediately search for inspiration and reference materials on the Internet – a Google search here, a cool blog there and we have everything we need to get our work started. Again, everything is fine, and you can not beat the Internet for convenience and speed if you are on a tight deadline. But maybe we’re not found something Important.
Many designers (including myself) must actually be asked to take a break from our computers and go outside to look around. When I was at school, my teachers regularly reminded us to take the mouse and/or tablet off and be inspired by the fresh air and beauty of the world around us. I even had a teacher so troubled by our zombie-like connection to our computers that she offered extra credit to anyone who had a passport or proof of visit to a park, nature reserve or somewhere that wasn’t our room or office.
The saddest part was that only a handful of students actually accepted them on their offer.
Show your tech who’s the boss
Our technology is a wonderful gift. This has allowed us to connect, create and explore the world in ways unimaginable a generation ago. I have used computers almost all my life, and even sometimes I am shocked by the performance and range of my smartphone or laptop. These things allow me to be a better communicator, a better designer and even a better person, because I do not allow them to fully absorb the most important parts of my professional interactions and creative Inspiration.
And this is the most important lesson I want to give here. We should use all our Gadgets to complement who we are as designers, not to define who we are. They are not your Smartphone, tablet, iPod, e-Reader, laptop or any other device. You are a complete person capable of many different expressions that can take your design career to new heights.
It’s always sad when I see designers who seem almost attached to their computers, as if their entire professional, even personal, world would unravel if they ever took a break from surfing the Internet or checking emails. Many do not even know that they are so isolated – they have been trapped by the expectations of our Digital culture and see no way out.
Don’t be that Designer. Look occasionally and smell the roses, and maybe take a trip and discover the world from time to time too. Finally, some of our deepest breakthroughs in Design and art have been achieved through nature observation. The Gold section, anyone? Vitruvian Man?
Is this new world of virtual designer client a blessing, a curse or neither? Is this simply a new reality of our modern business time, similar to the invention of the phone, or are we losing something as we all do increasingly anonymous business? Are our clients not found something important that can only give them personal advice or a Briefing?
More importantly, how would we know what our customers are not found if we never talk to them? I do not know any answers to any of these questions. You’re more open – if you have any answers, I’d like to hear about them in the comments below.
Finally, remember that technical devices are tools of expression, not expression or Design itself. Just as a brush and paints are not in themselves an art and must be handled in the hands of an artist if they are worth anything. You’re the boss of your technology, not the other way around.
Do not become a slave to your laptops, tablets or other devices. Use them wisely and do not forget why you and the Internet were invented: to enrich our interactions with others and remind us of the creative power of our fellow men.