My word is communication and I think that as graphic designers we can all agree that communication has absolutely nothing to do with us. I know each of us spends countless hours on a design in order to make it so perfect that no one will conceive a single thought by looking at it. We work hard to create products that may as well be made for the comatose. Many people ask me, "Why do businesses come to you to design logos, cover letters, and business systems when you, as a designer, try so hard not to create any impression upon people?" I always respond, "It is so that no one may think positively nor negatively about a business." Customers are happiest when they can look at a design and not even realize it is there. They can stare at it for hours with a ho-hum attitude and then move on with their only thought being "What the hell was I doing for the past few hours?" Communication, although important in almost all aspects of life, has no place in the world of design.
Just kidding!! ☺
Communication, I believe, is at the very heart of design. If people didn't have a need to communicate with each other then there would be no need to design messages to catch peoples attention. The whole goal of design is to create a visually stimulating message that draws a consumer/viewer to a particular product or idea. So the big question is, how do we as designers communicate effectively?
I believe it boils down to two simple things: who are you going to communicate to and how are you going to communicate to them.
In an article I read, it talks about research based design and trying to get Graphic Design to be PHD worthy like architecture is. They find that doing a lot of research "improves work flow and efficiency...adds to a designer's creativity" and "Clients, it turns out, are more satisfied when they are able to see just how and why their designs will be effective or not." When doing research, designers gather information through the use of the internet, interviews with the client and consumer, a companies previous print/web materials, and competitions' materials. If you find yourself researching a single individual (probably attractive) through the means of Facebook and Google maps then I would say you are probably just stalking. Once you know your target audience, you need to figure out how you are going to communicate to them.
As human technology has evolved, so has the way we communicate. This has made it both easier and harder as graphic designers to communicate with a target audience. Easier because now you can put something up online and thousands of people from all over the world can see it but also harder because there are so many different applications and programs that designers need to know. Are you going to be asked to design a new magazine ad, website, iphone app, ...ect. According to Mobile Metrics firm Admob, "half of iPhone users buy at least one app a month."
I myself am not an expert when it comes to what the latest technical advancements are and how they might affect me, but I know that change is inevitable. You can either jump on board otherwise it may be time to choose a different profession. I almost feel like graphic design is merging with computer programming which I had never imagined when I joined the design program 5 years ago. I know that it isn't exactly the case, but it appears like that is where things are heading. I can see it 5-10 years from now where so many designers know how to program that it will become the expected standard.
In the end, effective communication comes from understanding the audience and then having the ability to utilize the tools necessary to communicate with that audience. The tools will continue to change as will target audiences. The life of a graphic designer is very variable which, overall, should be good for us because as creatives we probably dislike the stable and mundane.