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Good design is the cornerstone of web interaction and most of today's designers also understand a great deal when  it comes to digital marketing.

On the heels of Econsultancy and Creative Review's recent training course announcement, we caught up with CR's Editor Patrick Burgoyne on what makes a great designer. 

What should good designers know about digital marketing principals in general?

I think that designers need to be aware of all aspects of communications and how they work. We know that there are a lot of options in terms of the various digital channels available, how people use them and what audiences like or don't like about that. Any designer would benefit from a thorough grounding in these principles and the latest insight regarding the most appropriate and effective use of digital media.

How important today is data-driven design for a design newbie?

Using data to tell stories or uncover important issues has become a very valuable and much sought-after skill. Any designer with ability in this area will find themselves well-placed when looking for jobs, particularly in the editorial sector.

Would you stress the importance of staying device agnostic, or is there a strategy in learning to create for one device in particular really well?

I would say that being device agnostic is the better bet. The technology industry changes constantly and very quickly. One OS or device may seems as though it is going to dominate forever, but it can very quickly be superseded by another. 

What do you think of the recent UK government decision to downgrade creative subjects?

Successive UK Governments have held the creative industries up as a shining example to the rest of the world. We have been told repeatedly that the creative industries form a vital part of our economy and will play an increasingly important role in the UK's push toward a 'knowledge-based', high-skill economy. In the fields of design and advertising we have a host of genuinely world-leading companies; education is the bedrock of their continued and future success.

I appreciate that Mr Gove is under enormous pressure from various, competing interests over the make-up of the Ebacc programme but I'd really like him to consider the merits of the Bacc for the Future campaign, which advocates a sixth pillar of creative subjects for the Ebacc. More than anyone, Mr Gove will be aware of the effects that league tables have had on schools in encouraging them to 'game' the system to produce the best results. Although schools will be able to offer subjects such as Design & Technology as a GCSE, I cannot help but think that any subjects left out of the core Ebacc 'pillars' of study will be considerably disadvantaged, particularly when it comes to the allocation of resources.

Who will this impact most, and how will it affect them?

I think the ones who are going to affected most by this change will be state school pupils. Well-equipped, well-resourced private schools who have more time with their pupils and more freedom to organise that time may well continue to offer plenty of opportunity to study design and arts subjects . State school pupils, however, in a system under enormous pressure to deliver results in the 'pillars' of study, will inevitably find their opportunities in the area severely limited.

How will this affect new blood coming into the digital creative industry in London in the future?

I am fortunate enough to be invited to attend conferences around the world; in the last two years I have spoken at design and creative conferences in China, India, Malaysia and Singapore. These countries are working extremely hard to, in their eyes, catch up with what they see as the UK's world-leading position in industries which they view as absolutely vital to their economic growth.

Particularly in India and China, both government and industry leaders have expressed astonishment to me that we would endanger this position by neglecting the education of our next generation of Jonathan Ives, John Hegartys, James Dysons and Terence Conrans.

Rather than condemning creative subjects to the margins, surely the way to ensure the UK's future world leadership in this field is to put design at the heart of our education system? The Ebacc presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the direction of UK education.

It could be a great opportunity for design. But instead of being remembered as the Secretary of State who had the vision to secure Britain's future as a world leader in these important drivers of the new economy, Gove is in danger of being seen as the man who threw it all away.

If anyone wants to get involved, check out the include design website which has a list of ways in which you can help

Ryan Sommer

Published 22 January, 2013 by Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer is web veteran and recovering expat who contributes to Econsultancy on startups, content marketing and new media. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, or add him to your circles on Google+

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