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Field Notes

Designer 2025

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Every so often the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) analyzes trends in the industry and makes recommendations for college and professional continuing education programs. Their newest report “AIGA Designer 2025” is now available and we thought share some of our highlights of the report.

[The US Bureau of Labor Statistics] estimates 0-1% growth in traditional graphic design positions between 2014 and 2024, well below the anticipated 7% growth in all sectors of employment. At least 20% of current graphic design positions are held by self-employed freelancers, suggesting that replacements will have to start from scratch in building new practices. By contrast, the Bureau expects design positions in networked communication to grow by 27% and the economy will add 186,600 positions in software development by 2024 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook).
— AIGA Designer 2025

What does this mean for the future of graphic design? And for designers?

AIGA identified seven trends that we as designers should be prepared for: complexity, aggregation and curation, bridging physical and digital experience, resilient organizations, core values matter, new forms of sense making, and accountability for predicting outcomes of design action. They make a series of recommendations for how college courses and professional continuing education should respond and prepare for these. In reading through this report, some of their recommendations really resonated with us and we plan to take them into account as we move forward. We’re sharing these highlights below, and if you’re interested in reading more you can find the whole report here.

Things move faster on the internet. Technologies are constantly changing. Websites and what we need and expect from them are continuously evolving. And we need to be prepared for that. Here are the recommendations from AIGA that we’ll be putting into practice, and building into our professional development strategies:

TREND FORECAST:

1. Complexity:

AIGA recommends, and we agree: “Professional continuing education should address: Tools, methods, and processes for developing adaptive design solutions that account for continuous updating under constraints that change over time….”

2. Aggregation and Curation

“New branding strategies that account for message fragmentation and persistence in various media;”

3. Bridging Physical and Digital Experiences

“Accommodating people’s need to curate and customize a suite of products and services in the pursuit of goals; and developing technological platforms in support of continuous experiences.”

4. Resilient Organizations

“Reimagining and generating new business models that focus on the value added by design to user experiences;”

5. Core Values Matter

“Clarifying organizational and stakeholder values and envisioning socially and environmentally responsible futures; and Reflecting design concern for the lifecycle of products and services, from the identification of people’s needs to when they discard the object, abandon the environment, or discontinue the service;”

6. New Forms of Sense Making

“Processes for designing complex adaptive systems and information-product-service ecologies that respond to ongoing social, economic, and technological change; and ways of prototyping these systems.”

7. Accountability for Predicting Outcomes of Design Action

“Futurecasting, foresighting, and speculative design as ways of anticipating changes in practice and cocreating client futures; Building research capabilities in professional design offices versus contracting research support.”

Rebecca Grady