This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on why design is valuable:

Designers are getting serious respect from Silicon Valley. You’ve likely seen the stats and the press:

  • Samsung employs more than 1,600 designers. (source)

  • IBM has invested over $100 million to create an organization that is focused on design. (source)

  • Venture capital firms, like Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, Khosla Ventures and Google Ventures, are increasingly employing designers. (source)

  • As of 2016, “21% of “so-called global ‘unicorn’ startups across all sectors have co-founders who have embraced design or come from a design, arts, or human-centered background including architecture, design, music, visualization, fine arts, media arts.” (source)

  • Last Fall, design thinking was the cover story of the Harvard Business Review.

So why all of the sudden attention from big business and tech towards design?

Business is about problem solving, and historically businesses have approached problems through analytical thinking. But customer’s demands and needs can’t keep pace with traditional ways of problem solving. Innovation and design are invariably linked. Design provides another angle to approach, frame, and solve problems at an unprecedented pace.

Take it from Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO:

[Design thinking is] a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.

Business schools are also taking notes from designers.

The best of what I see in the best business people is the same as what I see in designers at their best. —Roger Martin, former Dean, Rotman School of Management (source)

Business is hungry for design, and here’s what it means for you, if you choose to study design.

  • Your Skill Set is Necessary: By nature, designers are collaborators. As Linda Holliday has said, “Engineers are efficient problem solvers. Business people think short term. Designers want things to be elegant and beautiful. All three need to create collaboration and harmony, and honor the value each other brings. There needs to be a new kind of ‘multi-dimensional approach to design that has yet to be invented.” Designers have a skill set and a process that is unlike other professions. Yet, designers can’t do it alone. Businesses are recognizing this need, which means that the role of designers is constantly evolving. It’s an exciting time in a creative profession.

  • You Can’t Be Outsourced: Design is a company function that’s now seen as a differentiator – a way to create a competitive advantage for companies. As author Daniel Pink says, “Design is a high-concept aptitude that is difficult to outsource or automate," especially if design is the differentiator. As design becomes more integrated into business as a core competency, designers continue to be in demand and not as vulnerable to outsourcing.

  • You’ll Be Well Compensated: If you’re thinking about switching careers, designers, especially those with technical skills, can take home a great salary without having to enroll in a formal degree program. Here is a look at a range of salaries for different types of design jobs from a survey by The Creative Group:

    • User experience (UX) specialists – $86,500 to $132,500
    • User interface (UI) developers – $87,500 to $132,000
    • Front-end web developers (3+ years) – $72,000 to $100,000
    • Mobile developers – $94,750 to $140,250
    • Multimedia designers – $61,750 to $91,000
    • Digital strategists – $92,000 to $138,000

Being a designer provides you with a skillset that can provide career stability whether you want to work for a large corporation or choose the solo route and freelance. Design is what can set you apart – no matter the context of your current job or background.

In the next few days, we’ll give you a tool to start thinking like a designer immediately. In the meantime, if you’re interested in the future of design, check out John Maeda’s Design In Tech 2016 Report.

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Meghan Lazier

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