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November 1, 2018

The Rise of Visual Design

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Twenty-odd years ago, we found ourselves amazed by how computers and the internet changed so many aspects of life. Today it is clear that design is no exception to this revolution. Instead of spending hours crafting by hand, designers can now channel their creativity much faster and more efficiently, thanks to tech.

Career Fields

Brand identity, web and mobile design, font design, magazines, marketing, packaging, clothing, signage, animations, special effects, gaming, interior design and architectural production are just some of the types of visual design fields to choose from for those who wish to pursue a visual design career.

In the rapidly evolving digital age, an increasing number of graphic design programs and tools are being launched. While many of these programs are sophisticated, requiring training at a design school or on a design course, some tools are extremely user friendly, which is making design more accessible than ever before. However, that also means that poor design is more prevalent than ever before.

While it requires training, visual design is no longer a skill reserved for the “creative” industry, but a specialty that is essential for business success across all industries.

What are the factors playing a role in the growing importance and relevancy of visual design in the business sector?

1. Old-school Marketing Transitioning to DIY Digital Marketing

Not that long ago, a business or brand marketed itself following the Mad Men approach – appoint an advertising agency to come up with a big idea and spend heaps of money to have it produced and aired. Fast-forward a few years, and it's a different ball game. The speed at which a marketing campaign can be created and broadcasted on a seemingly infinite number of digital platforms – at a fraction of the cost – has revolutionized marketing. Today, a simple Facebook advert has the potential to generate more ROI in one week than an expensive above-the-line campaign could get in a month a few years ago.

The increased accessibility, efficiency and flexibility of visual design and digital marketing mean that more and more companies are creating their own marketing content rather than relying on traditional advertising agencies. The shift in the way businesses approach marketing has made visual design an essential in-house skill for most companies.

2. The Human Attention Span is Shortening

Remember that face but not the name? It’s said that the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, and that 90% of information that enters the brain is visual. This is not surprising when taking into account that of the 30,000 years we have been communicating with each other, only about 3,700 years have been spent using the written word. The human brain is hard-wired to process visual information better and faster than we process text.

This is a significant factor in the growing importance of visual design, especially when put into context of the results of a recent study by Microsoft Corporation, which has found that the human attention span has shortened from 12 seconds to eight seconds in just over a decade. Our digital lifestyle, where news is limited to 140 characters and conversations take place in the form of emojis, has made it difficult for us to stay focused.

In order to cut through the clutter and to grab someone’s attention, it’s more important than ever before for businesses to be able to create clear, strong, effective visual communication, which requires the skills of a visual designer.

3. Fast Growth in Internet Users

According to Venturebeat, two-thirds of the world’s population – approximately five billion people – owned a mobile phone in 2017, while Internet World Stats has reported that as of December 2017, 54.4% of the world's population had Internet access, an increase of 23.5% in a mere decade. The global dominance of the Internet and the rise of smartphones and tablets have been placing increased pressure on companies to optimise their visual design skills to be able to communicate about themselves in the most effective way.

With the shift in the way businesses market themselves, and the rapid rate at which the global population is adopting smart devices, traditional graphic design has evolved into a much more multi-faceted field of visual design. This digital revolution is bringing more efficiency and better creative expression to a plethora of daily applications, which means that the relevancy and importance of visual design, is on the increase for businesses of all kinds.

Staying Relevant

A growing number of people sign up for  design courses and enrol at design schools each year. And while you might not think that visual design is a primary requirement for success in a field like Data Science, remember that we all need to be able to effectively and quickly communicate ourselves visually (those presentations) in an age where it's increasingly hard to cut through the clutter and hold the attention of others.

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