Digital Engagement and why you should care

The digital world has impacted every area of our lives, and design is no different. Imagining design today without digital tools seems impossible to consider. From computers to the software running on them, much of our work is tied to the computer. While we work on illustration and life drawing skills, even those are often imported into the computer and coloured, or tweaked.

And what about the design that is purely digital? That is also created a huge new area of design. While in the past, designers worked often on printed output, nowadays, a huge amount of design is created that never meets the physical world. From websites, television to digital billboards and mobile apps, design has a huge place in the virtual world. And increasingly, as designers, our attention is focused there.

Today, many of the jobs that designers are getting require a knowledge of digital and interactive design. And it’s growing fast. According to the recent report from the Information and Communications Technology Council on Digital Talent, the digital sector growth “has accelerated in the past two years, averaging 6.4% annually over that period and doubling the growth and pace of other sectors of the economy. (p.12)” But “Canada faces challenges in meeting the expanding demand for skilled digital talent. (p9)” This covers everything from websites to video games, and cloud computing to software running on your local Mac. This means that knowing how to design in the digital age will be critical. According to the Creative Group’s 2017 salary guide, “digital proficiency is becoming a prerequisite for many traditional roles. For example, graphic designers now need to be familiar with web layouts or social media (p.4)” and these hybrids are in demand.

And the pay reflects that. In the salary guide, a web designer in Toronto with 1 year of experience starts on average at $64k/year. A graphic designer with the same experience starts on average at $45k. A production artist makes $41k but a web production artist $59k. Over ten years, a graphic designer with web chops will make significantly more money than one without. Even imagining they both get no raises over the ten years, web designer will make $190,000 more.

This doesn’t even begin to address the new technologies coming online now, such as machine learning, virtual reality and the internet of things. All of these will require thoughtful, inspiring design. So students that pay attention to interactive and online design will, out of the gate, not only have a financial bonus, but will also be a part of designing our future.

Reposted from Capilano IDEA Blog, where Phillip is an instructor.

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