On the Democratization of Design

Creating appealing designs remains hard for most of us, and there are many reasons for that.


4 min read
On the Democratization of Design

Over the last century we have experienced the democratization of various domains of our lives:

Key drivers have been technological advancements and lower barriers to leveraging those technologies. In turn, technology became more accessible to more people resulting in products, services, and tools that improve our lives every day.

“Computers are a bicycle for the mind” — Steve Jobs

Tools, such as computers, allow us to finish more tasks in a shorter amount of time and with fewer resources. Even more importantly, said tools also rid us from boring and repetitive work, thus enabling us to shift our attention to exciting and more creative tasks, paving the way for us to experiment and create rather than repeat.


Evolve Design with better Tools

Proper visual design attracts, engages, and persuades; it helps convey stories and facilitates communication.

Nowadays, design in all its facets like advertising, social stories, product presentations, or merchandise is omnipresent in our daily lives. As there is no arguing that appealing and beautiful design has an impact on us and our surrounding, consequently there is also a growing demand for good design and easy-to-use tools.

“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words!” — Arthur Brisbamne

Although the importance of design is unquestioned, creating appealing designs remains hard for most of us, and there are many reasons for that.

First of all, design tools are still challenging to master, and while they empower professional designers to create stunning assets, they remain a closed book for most people.

Secondly, even if we leave most of the creational part to professionals, the average user is still unable to use existing designs as a basis to create new assets or refine and update small details. Even for the slightest changes, one has to get familiar with the inner workings of sophisticated design tools.

Also, when it comes to collaboration, the process with most tools is far from frictionless, to put it mildly. Still, most designs get shared as Photoshop, Sketch, or PowerPoint files, and there is no tool or platform that grants unhindered access for multiple stakeholders with varying degrees of experience with design solutions.

As today’s design processes regularly involve multiple stakeholders like designers, marketers, copywriters, or product engineers, one has to acknowledge that prevalent design solutions simply lack features and workflows that reflect daily routines.


Make Design Accessible through Technology

As we pointed out, the overall access to good visual design is still very limited, but with the growing need for compelling creatives in virtually every aspect of the digital and non-digital realm this shouldn’t be and it doesn’t have to. We believe in the democratization of design.

Better tools enable the democratization of design!

We believe that:

  • We need to overhaul design processes and methods to cope with the ever growing design needs and the ever-rising number of stakeholders.
  • Achieving elegant design must be made simple.
  • Design can be made accessible through technology.

The question remains: How do we achieve that?

We came to the conclusion that there are four key elements design tools should have that will make design more accessible:

  1. Collaboration,
  2. building blocks of intelligent design components,
  3. automation of tedious design tasks, and
  4. bringing together Editing, Compositing, and Layouting.

Collaboration

We hold as an opinion that design tools have to facilitate the collaboration between professionals and non-professionals, thus allowing an effective and frictionless design creation and adaption process. This includes direct collaboration on a design as well as the exchange of whole design templates, design components, and presets.

While some solutions already offer templates for content creation, we think that design components as a more modular approach are going to be a necessity to simplify the creation of new complex assets for everyone.

Building Blocks of Intelligent Design Components

If Lego™ taught us anything, then it is that creativity can flow when you base your work on a solid foundation.

That said, one has to admit that while the basic elements of design such as text, shapes, or images can be creatively combined in millions of ways to create stunning designs, they also can be used in a trillion ways to create underwhelming output.

Similar to modern UI design, complex building blocks will play a central role in the visual design process, allowing creators to be more efficient by removing repetitive tasks from the workflow and also allowing average users to create and adopt complex designs quickly. Intelligent design components will shift the focus to the composition by guiding the user in carefully chosen constraints.

Automation of Tedious Design Tasks

Speaking of intelligent building blocks, we believe that said blocks must not be static but adaptive to fit into an effective and frictionless design process. That may include the automation of certain design tasks like text layout or even abstracting away the complexity of image editing.

We envision that with the help of technology and specifically artificial intelligence, recurring and taunting tasks like for example, the separation of a picture into fore- and background can become totally interaction- and hassle-free. Even automatically choosing the right adjustments based on the image content will be possible.

Altogether, intelligent design components are a necessity and will be the next step in design automation, fostering a flexible and fail-safe adaption and creation process and thus ensuring that even without professional knowledge designs will be created faster and look better.

Bringing together Editing, Composition, and Layouting

Photo editing and layouting are both central to the design process. That is why, in a holistic approach, combining both will yield exciting new possibilities, improved visual consistency, and a reduced amount of friction while going back and forth between layout and photo editing.


Closing words

To sum it up: To democratize design, we need intelligent design tools and ecosystems that allow for the cooperation between all stakeholders, as well as a community that is open to share and learn from one another by building and sharing reusable and intelligent design components.

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