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    The Top 15 Websites for In-house Designers

    Top15

     

    For those of us who work as in-house designers, simply googling “design” in order to find sites that support our work will only yield a small fraction of relevant internet resources. That’s because the range of skills and knowledge that in-house designers need to be successful is broad; in corporate contexts it includes, at the very least, a marginal grasp of HR, finance, management, communication and business strategies.

    The good news is that there are a lot of excellent sites out there. The bad news is that they aren’t always easy to find. Here’s a shortlist of 15 websites and blogs full of invaluable information for in-house designers. If you know of others, please post your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

    SmartBrief

    This site is a veritable needle in the internet haystack, featuring posts that cover nearly every in-house business sweet spot. There are pieces on social media, leadership, communication, HR and management, to name only a few. You can also subscribe to daily e-newsletter digests that target articles on a wide variety of specific topics. If you only bookmark one site, this should be it.

    The Accidental Creative

    As a creative himself, Todd Henry understands your creative soul. On this blog he offers powerful personal insights that let you know you’re not alone, as well as valuable, actionable advice.

    Work Matters

    I fell in love with Bob Sutton the moment I spied—and then read—his book, The No Asshole Rule. The title alone should give you a clue as to this accomplished Stanford professor’s approach to business management. I’m sure you’ll find yourself nodding like a bobblehead on a pickup dashboard as you read through his entertaining and memorable posts.

    @Issue: Journal of Business and Design

    Founded as a print journal that documented design business case studies, @Issue is now completely digital, and provides a wealth of real-world, in-house anecdotes and insights. It often includes helpful visuals as well.

    The Design Council

    The United Kingdom, in my opinion, has it all over the U.S. when it comes to identifying powerful business rationales for supporting the value that design brings to organizations and society in general. This site offers proof.

    Lateral Action

    Mark McGuinness is a poet, psychotherapist and business coach who “realized most of (my) clients didn’t need psychotherapy, just some help with the professional challenges they faced.” Having worked with numerous in-house creatives, McGuinness pens a blog full of useful managerial and creative leadership strategies and tactics.

    d.school

    Stanford University’s hybrid design/business school shares a wealth of knowledge on this site. IDEO is heavily involved, which in and of itself should be reason enough to add this page to your bookmarks.

    Creative Execs

    Full disclosure: I work for The BOSS Group, which is affiliated with Cella. That said, I was a follower of this blog long before my recent career move. Creative Execs features high-level, grown-up posts on business-focused topics that are entirely relevant to the practice of in-house design—such as project management and recruiting strategies. Not necessarily the sexiest topics, but certainly ones that are critical to your success.

    Recourses  

    While David Baker, a long-time design business thought leader, focuses primarily on independent agencies and design firms for this site, there’s still much to be found here in the way of insights relevant to the in-house community.

    The Corner Office

    This accumulation of New York Times pieces, originally published in a Sunday business column of the same name, provides wonderful leadership advice from businesses’ top leaders. They didn’t get to where they are by just being pretty faces.

    Cultureby

    Anthropologist Grant McCracken—a frequent speaker at AIGA events—studies modern-day culture, particularly its intersection with and applicability to the business sphere. As in-house designers, we often serve as arbiters of culture and (should-be) marketing consultants to our companies, and it behooves us to follow McCracken’s musings and theories. He’ll help you better serve your clients in these areas, which are critical to your company’s marketing and business strategy initiatives.

    Centre for Design Innovation

    This site, based in Ireland, has systematically gone about quantifying the bottom-line value that design brings to the country’s businesses. While specific to another context, this site contains must-have information for an in-house designer seeking to make a financial case for the contributions his or her team makes to their company.

    TCG eZine

    The Creative Group, long a supporter of in-house designers, has been posting valuable content on a wide range of related workplace issues for many years. Their e-zine is a robust archive of interviews, career and management advice and strategic articles.

    Dan Pink

    DANIEL H. PINK! Nuff said.

    In-HOWse

    Once again, there is a need for full disclosure. I, along with my co-conspirators Andy Brenits, Glenn Arnowitz and Ed Roberts, edit this blog, which is solely devoted to in-house issues. The format varies from interviews and inspirational quotes to case studies and challenging opinion pieces, liberally sprinkled with humor and hardcore tactical information.

    About the Author: 

    Andy Epstein started his career as a freelance designer and illustrator with clients as varied as Bacardi, Canon, Bantam Books and Merck. Jumping into the world of in-house in 1992, Andy created and grew in-house design teams for Commonwealth Toy and Gund. He later restructured and expanded the hundred-person creative team at Bristol-Myers-Squibb and consulted at Johnson & Johnson. After a three year stint at Designer Greetings leading an in-house design team responsible for the company’s product lines and Point Of Sales materials, Andy moved back into pharma heading up a 65+ managed services team at Merck.

    Andy has written and spoken extensively on in-house issues and published “The Corporate Creative”, a book on in-house design, in partnership with F&W Publications in the spring of 2010. He is a co-founder of InSource, an association dedicated to providing support to in-house designers and design team managers. Most recently he was head of INitiative, the AIGA program dedicated to in-house outreach and support where he expanded on his efforts to empower in-house teams and raise their stature in the design and business communities.

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