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Design Marketing

Are human designers necessary anymore? (Part 2)

By Earl Allan, Designer evangelist



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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January 27, 2017 | 6 min read

In Part 1, I looked at the relationship between people, technology and design and how it is impacting you as a designer? Here, I will discuss designers can find this balance and stay relevant.

Are human designers necessary anymore? part 2

How can designers stay relevant in the digital world?

How to work now

It can be intimidating when an industry changes course after many years of being subject to the status quo. We’ve heard many designers who feel discouraged or disappointed in the way their work has changed. But the truth is, the changes aren’t all bad – they’re just still new. Creatives simply need to learn to take advantage of them.

If you’re a creative, we have a few thoughts for you as you evolve and continue to work in a world alongside technology.

#1: Recognize and own your role

Creative people are good at many things. Computers are good at many things. One of the best things you can do for yourself and your career is to recognize which things you’ll never compete in, and focus all your energy on the places you can win.

For example, if someone asked you to help develop a plan for where an ad could live to reach the most people, you could remind them that there is incredible technology today that can not only give them the answer, but also deliver the creative for them. Let them know that using this technology will save you the ramp up and learning time it would take to get smart about media, and will free you up to focus on what you’re best at.

You have a strength and you should play to it. Focus on your skills, and when you’re asked to do other things, try not to view it as saying “no.” What you’re actually doing is helping solve a problem in the best possible way, and being efficient with resources in the process.

#2: Continue to grow by going wide

Every designer wants to build an impressive portfolio. The reality of a creative’s life is that it becomes easy to search for a couple projects to pay the bills, while the portfolio gets dusty.

The other reality is that there have never been more opportunities to make ads. We’re living in a time when every channel has multiple ad formats, and they continue to become easier to access and cheaper to buy. Advertisers are spending more money than ever. And it’s spread out across many more channels, which means there’s more places for designers to design.

One of the keys to using this new landscape to work for you is to take on as many projects as possible. Some may feel small, but at the end of the day you’re designing and you’re learning from a client’s briefs, and the results that your ads generate. And if you’re building your portfiolio at the same time, it really is a win-win.

#3: Advocate for yourself

Speaking of your strengths, have you ever heard the saying “You’re your best advocate?” It’s true. In this day and age, there are so many opportunities, but only if you’re the type of person who will jump up to grab them.

With technology taking over so many of advertising’s jobs, it sometimes feels like we’ll all be out of work soon. But technology is also creating an amazing marketplace for creative folks, and it’s helping us develop new systems for working. Freelance and remote work is on the rise, and so are short-term contracts.

This means there are lots of easy ways to make the most of your talents and connect with people who need your services. Sites like Fiverr and Elance allow you to bid on jobs that you can complete remotely.

The issue with these sites is that you’re often stuck in a cycle of constantly bidding for jobs you may not even get. Our platform takes this approach one step further – you choose which projects you want to work on from a set of daily briefs, and just submit your work by the deadline. We’ve found this approach makes is simple and seamless for designers to advocate for themselves, and ultimately to do great work.

Looking ahead

Questions around peoples' relationships with machines have been around since the first machine was ever created. And to be sure, they’ll continue to be asked for decades to come. What we know today is that there are very real opportunities for both people and technology to have a positive impact on so many industries – especially advertising – if they’re balanced correctly.

Advertising may never be the same, but the great news is that it can be better than it’s ever been – for both advertisers and for designers. To be better will of course require new ways of working, and even new ways of evaluating success. But the truth is that the many tools (some of which were mentioned here) that we will collectively need to be successful in this new landscape – the tools to balance people and machines, and the tools to advocate for your role in the way your industry is changing – are already in place. It’s up to you to make the most of them.

Winner of Facebook’s Innovator of the Year, ReFUEL4 is the world’s leading data- driven creative platform, delivering assets from 10,000 global creators backed by predictive AI technology. Learn more here.

Design Marketing

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Winner of Facebook's 2016 Innovator of the Year, ReFUEL4 is the world's leading online ad creative management platform. 

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