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4 talent trends shaping the digital design workplace in 2017

In 2017, the reality is that designers who combine digital graphics, interaction and motion skills will find it easier to land the job of their dreams than those with more traditional visual demand talent across packaging and print.

So why is this?

Digital transformation is everywhere and is impacting every business. This requires designers to create multiplatform experiences that are seamlessly integrated across both traditional media (TV, radio, print) and across apps, websites, social media, outdoor, events – essentially at every point of a consumer’s life.

Because of this trend, clients are looking for more from design and branding agencies than just graphic design: as well as solid typography skills, designers need to get closer to the product and customer experience.

Branding agencies are under pressure to adapt quickly to clients who are demanding complex digital solutions to deliver experiences for sophisticated consumers whose expectations are both high and fast-changing. 

Digital transformation is everywhere and is impacting every business

What this means for candidates is that traditional visual and graphic design techniques built around communicating a message are being replaced by skills that shape how consumers will use a product.  

The skills designers now need cross research, prototyping, cognitive psychology, ethnography, screen and communication design, motion graphics, UX methodologies and sometimes even coding. We are seeing a focus on candidates who have interaction or motion design skills and who combine experience in both front and back-end design. 

What do these skills involve?

Interaction design involves designing interactive digital products, environments systems and services while motion design uses graphic design principles in filmmaking and video production. 

Motion design, particularly animation, is becoming a major part of how brands tell their story online. AirBnB’s Wall and Chain (below) is often cited as an excellent example of this. Visual storytelling is a good way of amplifying a story and helping consumers to retain information about a brand. It’s also great for sharing on social media.

Both interactive and motion design help to manage the consumer journey across different channels, to ensure a seamless brand experience. In practice this allows consumers to switch from looking at a product online, to searching and buying it in store as one continuous experience that is completely consistent with the brand. 

2017 will see an ongoing need for digital skills sets within traditional branding and design agencies which means there will be a corresponding pressure on candidates to have a wider range of skills. 

As this happens, traditional branding and design agencies will restructure to accommodate new talent and expertise. 

So, what other recruitment trends do designers need to be aware of in 2017? 

There are three key additional themes that both companies hiring and candidates need to be aware of in the coming year:

01. The line between UX and UI will blur and product designers will be in demand 

The need for designers with both UI and UX skills has surged recently. Designers who can do both, and there are many, are in high demand.

2017 will see this continue, together with a demand for candidates who combine design/product management skills and who can deliver everything from design, to strategy, to implementation and post-care. 

The need for designers with both UI and UX skills has surged recently, and those who can do both are in high demand

This development raises questions about how we define design within product development. As a result, 2017 will see the rise of the product designer who will have responsibility for everything from aesthetics and design to the overall user experience and development of the product. 

02. There will be a greater need to bring organisational design in-house

As we have seen from the spate of acquisitions such as Atom Bank’s acquisition of Grasp or McKinsey’s acquisition of Veryday, 2016 was a big year for larger companies establishing their own design teams in-house. However, many companies lack knowledge about how to get multidisciplinary teams to work together to achieve the best outcome. 

As businesses seek to understand how they incorporate design thinking and practices into solving wider business challenges, there will be growing demand for candidates with organisational design expertise who have the skills to build, maintain and grow a business. 

03. Workplace culture will take centre stage as the trend for Accenture/Karmarama style deals continues  

Culture clash is potentially a big issue in the light of the acquisition of design and digital agencies by big consultancies such as Accenture’s purchase of Karmarama (opens in new tab) last November.

2017 will see a rise in acquisitions. Culture will become a key focus as acquiring companies start to implement transition strategies to prevent talent and authenticity draining away.

Finally, from a broader perspective, “digital” will cease to be a separate team either in-house or within agencies because it will be in everything. To be considered for the best roles, designers should examine their skillset and be sure to fill in any digital gaps to ensure they are in pole position.

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Doug Fitzgerald is a consultant at design and recruitment specialists Bamboo Crowd.