diversification of minds - conversation in processes
design for communities

Tokyo, 07.10 - 09.10 1999

10 08 pm<Case Studies Of Information Design Interfaces>
Maria Giudice, Hot, San Francisco, USA

The Designer's Evolution

The graphic designerıs role has certainly changed over the centuries. There are many reasons for this change, but the most dramatic influence has undoubtedly been the proliferation of the Internet. Not only is the Internet a new design medium in itself, but the technologies created to accommodate communication through the medium has forever changed the role of a designer.

Design vs Information Architecture
An interesting perspective on the debate is to examine how magazines and newspapers are produced. In this instance, writers and editors can certainly be considered information architects since they dictate the content and how the information is organized. The designer, on the other hand, is only responsible for blocking in the text and photos on the page, not providing feedback or having any ownership over the articleıs content and message. Here the line is clearly drawn and responsibilities defined.

Unlike print, however, the Internet is a truly interactive medium and viewers dictate their own unique experiences, each one different from the last. To ensure a consistent viewer experience throughout any particular Web site, the lines between information architecture and graphic design must become blurred or even become nonexistent. The information must be designed to be visually appealing and easily understood in addition to being presented in such a way that it can be easily accessed from any number of different places on the Web site. Both the designer and the information architect must work together to break down complex ideas into manageable content chunks, making it easier for the viewer to access complete pieces of information.

Keeping Pace
The role of the designer has changed. No longer is just being a good designer enough. Todayıs designer must also be able to think strategically. The designer must have a greater understanding of the clientıs mission and vision, as well as products, and be able to visually represent these core messages within proper context targeted at the right audience.

Modern day designers must learn how to collaborate with the same people who at one point in time would be considered adversaries ­ clients. Itıs critical for designers to involve their clients in the process as much as possible so that they feel a sense of ownership. Additionally, being aware of each project team memberıs expertise and responsibilities will help inspire collaboration and ensure that all members are working to achieve a common goal.

Todayıs designer must design across multiple media, a challenge more intimidating in theory than in practice. The Internet may be drastically changing the role of the designer but the fundamental design process remains the same for the Web as it is for traditional media. Technology enables designers to be more innovative and have greater freedom with what theyıre designing but the way they think about design is the same. The ones who choose to become a true multiple media designer will be the ones who lead the industry into the next evolution of design.

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