It’s 2028. Everyone uses hoverboards and electric cars that drive themselves, and there’s a SpaceX elevator to the moon. But what does everything look like? What is the future of design — do the hottest future design jobs include yours? And how do you stay competitive? A web copywriter is likely to be in the mix (Webcopy+ has been in the business of optimizing online and digital content for more than a decade), but who, and what, will we be working with?
Q: What type of design opportunities will be around in the next decade or so?
Retail sector, VR, AR
AK: There is so much potential for various creative and technical skill sets to merge and blend, to solve a business problem. Retail is going to be a hot topic for the next little while, and designers who are hungry to think outside their comfort zone should try working in that sector. We have brands such as Frank & Oak who have been able to successfully exist in a URL (virtual) and IRL (real life) space due to their experience design. With the gates to VR and AR design opening, understanding the technical portions [of design] would be essential as well.
UX designers, digital marketing managers, front-end web developers
AM: Digital initiatives remain pivotal for businesses to remain competitive, so design and creative careers maintain this focus. Professionals with the ability to help launch a website, develop mobile-friendly platforms, optimize for search, improve social media, and maximize email marketing are in high demand, and will continue to be. Roles include: UX designers, digital marketing managers, front-end web developers: Those with experience using the latest industry tools and new technologies, to evolve and implement strategic initiatives that attract and retain customers.
The Bottom Line
Q: What will be the critical characteristics, mindsets and skills required to achieve success in the coming years?
Cross-disciplinary collaborators, designers that combine foresight, strategy and communication
AK: Designers will need to maximize their creative potential by allowing themselves to think beyond the deliverables and combine foresight and strategy into their work. Collaboration between designers who come from different paths would be nice to see; UX design could cross paths with environmental design. For a design to have longevity, it has to be functional and influential. The designer who can combine solving business problems, a nice aesthetic, and a solid ability to communicate messaging, will always be an asset.
Quick learners, forward thinkers, collaborators, research- and data-driven communicators
AM: Quick learners and forward thinkers will be the most sought after in the years to come. Those with a collaborative mindset, who actively look for new technologies and stay on the forefront of industry trends, will be invaluable for their ability to keep their business competitive. While technical skills can be taught, it’s the soft skills — the ability to communicate new design concepts, creative strategies, or tools — that distinguish successful creative professionals. What specific skills are employers looking for? Those with coding skills, experience using content management systems, marketing automation systems (MailChimp, Marketo, Salesforce), SEO and SEM abilities, market research backgrounds for competitor analysis and uncovering new innovations.
The Crystal Ball
Q: What are the trends and where are creative careers headed?
Data-driven design choices
AK: Combining data and creativity to solve some of the top design challenges. It can be very successful, and eye-opening; we have a lot of data in our hands that we can use to enhance design from a personalization standpoint, for example. Data has allowed intuitive design to feel a little safer, versus “going with your gut.” The usage of data has also helped amplify the career paths of many designers focused on accessibility.
Online and digital marketing, e-commerce, analytics
AM: Consumers are increasingly engaging with companies online, via websites, social media, email campaigns. As digital initiatives continue to permeate the business landscape, for organizations to capture customers and be successful as a company — creative, marketing, and IT departments must recognize the increasing importance of working together. According to our recent 2018 Salary Guide, marketing budgets are growing, which means companies are hiring more marketing staff — particularly for positions that create measurable ROI, like e-commerce marketing managers and marketing analytics specialists.
Interested in more perspectives? Fast Company asked other thought leaders what jobs they think will be important in the future of design — and what are the design jobs that won’t exist in the future. Need help landing the right gig? Here are some resources from an established career coach.