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In-house designers fill a unique role within their organizations. Regular collaboration with a variety of departments offers a well-rounded view of the needs and opportunities that exist. The ability to apply the design process and design thinking to non-design problems means the opportunity to make a much bigger contribution. By building relationships and regularly using their unique skills and knowledge, in-house designers are in an excellent position to effect positive change within their organizations.
As an in-house designer, you may find yourself working directly with higher-ups or even the owner of the company. This is a great opportunity to get to know them, ask questions and, in a respectful way, make suggestions. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, especially when asked. Present your point of view from a positive place—a place of opportunity—being careful not to complain. Decision-makers are often interested to know what their employees really think, and if you cultivate a relationship, they may even seek you out when they’re in need of an alternate point of view.
Oftentimes, in-house designers’ most frequent professional collaborators are non-creatives from other departments. Becoming familiar with other parts of the business is not only an educational experience but gives you the breadth of knowledge and awareness needed to be a true problem solver. Look deeper and think bigger: take into consideration the broader goals of an initiative and the impact it could have on the organization as a whole. Use this information to make suggestions, present options and tailor your design solutions to exceed the expectations of the brief.
In-house designers are often asked to work on non-design projects. This presents a wonderful opportunity to stretch your strategic thinking skills and demonstrate the value of design thinking. The ability to generate multiple viable solutions to a problem is something we, as designers, do inherently—and something we can easily translate to non-design situations. Using these skills, especially on cross-functional projects, will make colleagues see you as a go-to problem solver. What better way to demonstrate the unique value a designer brings to the table?
This knowledge gives in-house designers the ability to make informed judgments about what needs to change and what will stand the test of time. By developing a sixth sense about what “feels right” and what “feels wrong” in terms of the brand, you can become a respected adviser to others in the organization. Consider yourself a “brand ambassador” who is always working to protect the integrity of the brand and make the necessary improvements to stand out in the crowd.
Not every organization has a culture that embraces change. But, as designers, we are often advocates for change, knowing that its effects can alter the course of a company for the better. Don’t get frustrated by those who fear it! Instead, help everyone see the benefits and opportunities that change can bring. This may mean making a mock-up, even if your collaborator is initially resistant, or self-initiating a project you think could make a real difference. Through support and patience, you can help others in your organization see that change and evolution are only natural and participate in driving the process.
I am president of the AIGA Detroit chapter. I am currently persuing an MFA in 2D Design at Cranbrook Academy of Art while growing a solo practice under the name Parker Grey.
Previously, I taught graphic design and typography at Michigan State University. I have also worked in-house for the largest independent furniture retailer in the US, providing creative direction to a cross-functional team of architects, interior designers
and graphic designers in the development of new retail stores and private label branding.
AIGA has partnered with The Creative Group (TCG) to create “INitiative,” a national program to help in-house designers make a greater impact at their companies, evolve
professionally and connect with a broader network of peers.
Section: Tools and Resources -
INitiative, in-house design
If instances of self-questioning about working in-house become a catalyst for self-doubt, why not redirect some of that energy toward constructive self-evaluation? We can’t count on having control over everything that affects our design careers, but we can establish focus, build accountability and develop a newfound sense of assurance about our professional trajectory in-house.
Section: Tools and Resources
I was raised to believe that an architect should be able to design everything from a spoon to a city. At the root this belief is a commitment to improve the design of everything that can be made—to make it better.
Section: Inspiration -
critique, architecture, graphic design
Design feedback shouldn't be a painful process. In fact, if it's a painful process, I'd say someone's not doing it right. The most successful projects are usually ones with a collaborative workflow between a well-balanced team of designers, developers, project management, and of course — clients! It's essential to have a healthy feedback process, in which the client knows exactly what feedback is most helpful for the next round of revisions, and the designers and developers know how to translate and solve those problems.
I know, I know, both web teams and people who have hired web teams are out there groaning right now (we get it, and this isn't a soapbox). Everyone has had their fair share of difficult projects and poor communication, but it doesn't have to be that way. In efforts to improve the feedback process for web clients and design teams alike, I'm writing this two-part article about How to Give Good Web Design Feedback, and Turning Client Feedback Into Your Best Work.
The naming and branding of sport teams that can be considered racist to Native Americans are a problem needing to be solved. This presents a great case for design to rise to the challenge.
Talk & SigningBeautiful Users by Ellen LuptonNovember 21 at...
5 days ago from
37 E 7TH ST
A Rather Novel Collection
For 20+ yrs @thedailyheller has been speaking out about the state of #design criticism. Now, a new critic talks back: http://t.co/P9S71ICB1u
10 hours ago
AIGA MAKE/THINK Conference - Title Sequences & Motion Graphics
Visual Designer – Arizona State University
November 24, 2014
The Big One 2014
November 22, 2014
The Saint Johns Bible Website