How Important is Design in 2019? 23 Experts Share their Views

With all the “design it yourself” websites and cheap design services popping up, we asked 23 top designers to share their thoughts on how essential design is right now.

Here’s what they said…

Aaron Draplin

For 2019? I’m hoping my answer applies to 2018, and all years. Design can simply be about reminding people to savor the beauty of a poster, stamp or record cover. That’s where I operate. Cake decorating, more or less. But the stuff I really think about? It’s abstract. Be it making it easier to navigate a campus, pay a parking ticket, scroll through Netflix titles, recognize.understand/trust a brand, or just enjoy the details of something that might’ve been often overlooked?

Sometimes design simply makes the stuff you aren’t thinking about, well, better. That pursuit for clarity, ease-of-use or refinement isn’t susceptible to fashion, memes or cultural fads. Fonts, styles, color trends, and whatever the hell else comes and goes. Decisions that do the job and make our lives a little bit better? That’s unmesswithable. We can always use more of that.

Aaron Draplin – Website

Alex Mathers

Design is more important in 2019 than ever before. Design is about improving the usability, aesthetic attractiveness, and communicating the meaning of the things with which we see and interact in our every day.

As such, in a world that increasingly loaded with information, stimuli and rapid change, we need the power of design to navigate a complicated environment in a way that allows us to live in harmony with it.

Alex Mathers – Website

Sean McCabe

People spend over 4 hours on their phones each day. That number is increasing. Soon, we’ll count the hours we don’t spend online. No matter your goals, you need attention. Your clients need attention. You must go where the people are and in 2019, they’re spending their time on social media. Websites are still important, but increasingly, people interact with brands on social platforms.

Design is the difference between being remembered and being forgotten. Design is the difference between someone feeling like they encountered a random piece of content vs. interacted with a brand. Use consistent design language throughout all of the content you create. Even something as simple as sticking to the same font or color palette will go a long way.

Sean McCabe – Website

Melinda Livsey

There has been a lot of buzz around design in the past year due to the re-brands of major companies like Uber, Dropbox, and Mailchimp, to name a few. I don’t believe design will be any less or more important than it has ever been in 2019, it’s just that brands are finally realizing just how big a roll design plays in reaching their ideal customers, especially when it comes to design in the case of branding.

With so much noise and saturation in the market, design and branding is a business’s secret weapon—it allows the brand to build trust, meet their customer’s needs, and become memorable in a very short period of time. I think 2019 will be the year that more businesses discover the importance of design, and how it can catapult them to their goals faster than anything else.

Melinda Livsey – Website

Laura Evans

Laura went beyond the call of duty and has created a brilliant illustration to show her thoughts on the importance of design in 2019.

Click on the image below for a larger view.

Laura Evans – Website

Jason Recker

Well, let’s just say that I’m happy to be in this industry right now. Getting your business noticed is more and more challenging every day and the only way to really keep up is understanding the value of investing in good design.

Design that builds your brand and gets your message across multiple mediums and platforms in a consistent manner. The DIYers are realizing that their skills are only getting them so far but won’t hold up in the long run if they want to be taken seriously.

The bar is getting raised and in 2019, the pros are going to be busy!

Jason Recker – Website

Ian Paget

Everything on this page has been designed. The layout, the colours, the font… even the individual letters.

If you found it hard to read, would you stop reading?

If the site looked poor would you trust the content?

If you had a bad first impression would you have returned?

This is why design matters. If you’re still reading, many of the design decisions on this page have become invisible… you’re focused on the content and message.

But as a business you want people to also remember you, and that’s where design has real power. Design can be used to help differentiate you from the competition. It can help you stand out from the crowd. It can help you attract a desired audience. It can even help change perceptions.

But good design does not work on it’s own… it’s only as good as the thing it represents. If the content you read here was poorly written, you would have left regardless of the design.

In business, if the CEO says the wrong thing it can cause sales to drop, or if someone had a bad experience a bad review could leave a bad taste in potential customers minds.

Whilst good design is an essential component to success, it’s one piece of a much bigger picture. In 2019, in a social media world everyone has a voice… No ounce of good design can save a badly managed business, or one that doesn’t care for it’s customers. But when combined with the best of everything, design can help a business to flourish!

Ian Paget – Website

Philip VanDusen

There is no denying that the most successful companies in the last decade have been the ones that have embraced design as a core competency and leveraged it as a differentiator amongst their competitors. 3M, Apple, P&G, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Pepsico, Tesla, Nike, the list goes on.

So, how important is design in 2019? If you’re a company that hasn’t gotten with the program yet, you’d better, because you can bet your competition is working on it right now. Also, with the explosion of marketing platforms: podcasts, video platforms, social media, apps, print, outdoor, in-store, affiliate, to name only a few, businesses need to create growing volumes of marketing and consistently show up with striking, beautiful, brand-right creative.

When your brand only gets a quick glimpse scrolling by in a social feed, you’d better create immediate brand recognition. How do you do that? Design. Design is the key to the 3 R’s: being recognized, remembered and revered.

Philip VanDusen – Website

Marc Posch

Let me clarify first that to me “design” is a verb, not a noun. I hate it when people toss around “design” as a product. To me an Eames chair is not a beautiful design, it’s a beautiful chair, a well designed product.

Design is a process to transform an idea into an outcome, to solve a problem by creating a solution through the blend of experience, talent and determination. “Design” is never the result, rather the journey, it’s a characterization of the process.

Today, we have to differentiate between various kinds: Designing in the classical sense – from Paleolithic cave drawings to arts & craft today, then design thinking as an intellectual process that allows to create messages and sell abstract ideas.

And finally computational design as a way to process data and amplify information in unprecedented ways. All three are valid, but if you want to be successful in 2019 as a Designer you have to pick sides. At least two.

Marc Posch – Website

Ben Loiz

On one hand, design doesn’t get any more or less important with time. It remains important. What’s changing is businesses large and small are increasingly realizing the significant role design plays in their success. Young people too are discovering the field like never before thanks to a wave of new documentaries, articles, tools, and mediums.

I think design in 2019 has the potential to touch more lives, solve more problems, effect more positive change, uplift our visual landscape, and become a much more viable professional field than it’s been in years past. There’s a lot to look forward to!

Ben Loiz – Website

Katherine Wastell

We’ve reached a point where customers are no longer impressed by technology or fooled by marketing. We live in an age where customers’ expectations of a product go far beyond how it’s sold. They want to use products that solve problems. Design is more important than ever before.

We need to design the whole experience, beyond the screens of the product. If the delivery driver is rude when they drop off your customer’s parcel, your perfectly aligned typography won’t keep your customer happy. The end-to-end service is what your customer experiences. The screens of your app or website are one small part.

Make it easy for customers to use your product, people are trying to get on with their lives. But make sure they want to use your product. The whole user experience is the competitive advantage, there will almost always be an alternative. Design has the power to make a service a useful part of people’s lives.

Katherine Wastell – Website

Stefan G. Bucher

Design is at a fork in the road: The business community is recognizing more and more ways in which design is important to their success. They know they need to connect with their customers both intellectually and emotionally. They know that a well-conceived and cohesively implemented brand speaks volumes about their products and their business, that it can make or break them. They know that stories can BE the brand. Because of this, there is more need for our services than ever before.

Unfortunately, graphic designers aren’t the only ones racing to fill that need. Tech entrepreneurs are scooping up a lot of the low- and mid-level work with semi-automated template solutions, and by connecting clients with cut rate labor on sites like Fiverr. Now that everybody knows that design is key, we need to teach people that it’s not just a box you check. High end businesses know this, of course, and see the benefit in carefully built custom solutions. Clients in the low and mid range may see it, too, but are baffled by an insane range of apples-to-oranges services offered at seemingly random price points.

I believe that template sites and low-rent services like Fiverr have something to teach us about the need for transparency about the process and about pricing throughout our industry. We need to create an environment that takes the apprehension and frustration out of working with graphic designers — without turning our services into a commodity. This is our moment to create amazing work to support our clients, and to present it in a way that makes clients excited to commission and champion that work!

Stefan G. Bucher – Website

Kyle Courtright

I’m convinced that design is more relevant today than any other time in history. Whether it’s individuals giving their unfiltered thoughts on social media about a Fortune 500 company’s new identity, conversion-centered design on a presidential campaign’s website, or even the use of emojis, the importance of design is recognized more than ever.

Entities have that much more accountability and quite frankly more consumer pressure to get their visual branding “right”. The result? An increasing visually-driven world who more clearly realizes the investment of strategic design.

Kyle Courtright – Website

Thad Cox

Design is as important as ever. Done well can elicit an emotional response in people, which can shape culture. As more people experience great design across all mediums and media, I believe that bad design will be tuned out and will disappear as it loses effectiveness. I hope the levelling of the playing field, will raise the bar of entry.

Thad Cox – Website

Col Gray

Great design has never been more important than it is now. With business owners having access to a myriad of free online tools, giving them the ability to make graphics quickly and easily and cheaply, there is a lot of bad, ineffective amateur design out there.

This is why I believe that in 2019, business owners who take their branding and marketing seriously and want results, will invest in professional level design; getting a better return on investment and results.

Col Gray – Website

Ben Burns

I think design is, well, everything. It’s immensely important. But I’m heavily biased, due to the fact that I’m a designer. Perhaps you (yeah, you!) are here reading this because you’re facing someone who believes the inverse… that design really isn’t that important. And I think that’s OK too.

See, the importance of design is going to vary from person to person, client to client, company to company. Importance intrinsically relies on value, and I wholeheartedly believe that there is no market value of design.

I think in our quest to build design as something important and valuable, we need to practice more than we preach. Find those who value design. Do great work. Get great results. Then talk about it.”

Ben Burns – Website

John Emery

Design is a language that can amplify, clarify, or confuse any message that someone is trying to send. With the sheer volume of noise (visual and otherwise) in the world today, clarity is king. As Donald Miller’s been saying for years, “If you confuse, you lose.” Today’s consumers aren’t willing to put up with clunky design or usability. They’ll conserve the brainpower and find someone else that does it better.

So, if you want to be heard in the Age of Inundation, excellent design is as important as ever

If clarity is king, then design crowns the king.

John Emery – Website

Douglas Davis

Design is important because what we do is being utilized to move needles. It’s important in 2019 because now is the opportunity to use design to influence brands to take a position on climate crisis.

Douglas Davis – Website

James Wallace

In the area of brand design in which we operate as an agency, brands in 2019 have an ever-increasing need to tap into people’s aspirations and desires.

With increasing inflation and competition, design will be used to help brands command higher prices, and therefore demand a higher value perception. Due to this, it’s our job as creatives to ensure brands develop interesting and memorable ways to ensure their consumers feel special.

The interesting thing about 2019 will be ‘what defines feeling special’. With the emergence of an environmental, health and minimal conscious society, it is my belief that design within the world of brands will be pushed to develop deeper, more interesting stories, striking a very fine balance between sustainability and indulgence.

James Wallace – Website

Deb Panckhurst

For me, graphic design is about one key point. Communication.

We are helping our clients communicate and connect with their audience, nothing new there. But when you think about design in an everyday sense, all around us its effects linger and affect our environment. From the magazine cover on the coffee table, the business card left on your desk from a meeting, the website you open up to check out the latest shoes.

All of these little moments evoke a feeling that lasts for a few seconds or a few minutes. Feelings that the humble graphic designer has helped orchestrate. I propose a toast, here’s to graphic designers, keep learning, exploring and seeking those all important connections.

Deb Panckhurst – Website

Doc Reed

I don’t know if design will be more important in 2019 than in any other previous year. Design, I would say, is something that grows and develops with our culture, but we need to be conscious of getting swept up into the status quo. There tends to be a formula we are told to apply when we create designs. Websites need to function a certain way, apps work another way, and marketing emails need to be written according to a prescribed road map. If everyone is following the leader, then what we’re creating isn’t design or problem-solving.

Recently, I realized life shares many qualities to a silk screen test print. Test prints by their nature are flawed; beautiful, but flawed none the less. They all start as errors, that get layered and layered on one another. But these errors and flaws create opportunities we may not see right away. Test prints are scrap paper we don’t pay attention to – right up until that last layer of ink goes down.

This process parallels in our life. What many of us fail to see is that after years of “making mistakes,” those layers of color and shape allow our thinking to get stronger. Learning from our missteps allow compositions to become involved and experimental while our application of color becomes more exciting. There are color combos in these test prints I’d never think to put next to one another. Still, there they are, and I put them there. They are beautiful. We’d be fools not to take note and apply what we’ve learned from our mistakes to find a solution in the future. Learning, exploring, and adapting our thinking to the solutions we offer is where the real power rests. Design is merely the vehicle allowing ideas to be shared with others.

Some of you may feel I dodged the original question so let me say this. Design seems to have a seat at the “adults table” finally, especially in larger corporate companies. C-suite and E-Team leaders are more attuned to the need for design and how it helps foster relationships with those interacting with the company. Some brandish design terms to assert knowledge in boardroom meetings. Anyone who’s ever sat in a boardroom has seen this.

Those same leaders still need an experienced guide to help them clear a path with simple, meaningful messaging alongside empathetic, arresting visuals, created to support the campaign(s). To my test print thoughts earlier, we need to bring a broader range experiences to these meetings to capitalize on the attention design now has from executives. Partnering better now will secure design’s seat at the table for the year(s) to come..

Doc Reed – Website

Mark Hirons

The impact of design on the world, on our behaviour and feelings is incredible. From a certain red hat with a few words on it or a campaign for equality. These sort of things have been designed and made the viewer feel, sometimes very strongly for or against what that design stands for.

Even of we look at big brands like Apple. Their identity has been designed to be perceived as luxury and a high end brand, combined with the right products and price points. We all feel that way about apple because of it’s design. It’s no coincidence that they’ve made it a great user experience at an apple shop or through their packaging. It’s by design.

Big brands are investing heavily into their branding to make themselves stand out and differentiate from their competition. Even smaller companies and local businesses are asking for logos to be designed or adverts and flyers.

So my conclusion is that design is still valued in the world, it makes us feel and act in defferent ways, as long as it keeps doing that it must be important.

Mark Hirons – Website

Mark Des Cotes

I think design is essential in 2019. The same way it was important in the 2000s or 1990s and every prior decade, and the same way design will be important far into the future. The tools we use to create our works, as well as design styles, will change over time, but they don’t influence the importance behind designing itself.

Designing is about solving problems through aesthetics by making a company, a product, an event, etc. appeal to the intended target market. As long as people have something to share or promote and others are influenced by the way those things appear, design will play a significant role.

Mark Des Cotes – Website

Marksteen Adamson

Thanks to David Attenborough, the sustainability movement is significantly changing consumer attitudes and increasing focus on reducing the use of non sustainable materials, products, and especially packaging in foods.

On the whole, we need to focus on extending the useful lifetime of the products we are designing, so they last longer or de-compose faster.

We can start by fixing the things we have when they break, instead of just buying new ones, and detoxing our addictions to disposable consumerism, concerning ourselves less with the latest fashion, to buying products that last longer and focusing on what we need rather than just want.

And I still get over engineered Direct Marketing in the post that ends up in our recycling bin. The most disappointing invention at the end of 2018 was the proliferation of Christmas’s jumpers produced for one event only. For an idea that started out as a fun charity shop hunt, the manufactured Jumpers became a symbol of everything that’s gone wrong with our stewardship of the planet.

Good design really can change the world for the better and I hope to see more designers in 2019 using their skills and ideas for the greater good, even if that means taking a hit financially. The world will only become a better place once we all start being less greedy, more collaborative and generous with our time, ideas and “wealth”.

Marksteen Adamson – Website

Connor Fowler

In 2019 specifically, I am starting to see a shift in the general landscape as we move ever closer towards an entirely digital environment than a printed one. With that shift, and the horrendous press and scandals, big corporate has received over the last year or so, building new design practices will be really important and necessary.

This year it will be important to focus on creating an authentic, transparent presence through design. The general population is sick and tired of being manipulated and lied to all for a quick buck, a system that has been allowed to grow through bad behaviour and poor design practices.

Good authentic design will have a major impact here, clearing the way for strong communication between business and consumer, stripping out all the years of bloated manipulative systems for bright and open connections. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.

Connor Fowler – Website

January 24, 2019

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