When enrolled in my first graphic design course almost a decade ago, I never would have imagined I’d end up as a visual designer at a high tech design and engineering firm.
You mean those very scientifically-driven, detail-oriented, sharp-minded, practical, factual, and ORGANIZED type of individuals who invent, make, and design really cool stuff?
Yes! Engineers! This creative, unorganized, subjective, emotion-driven and sometimes willfully impractical person is now entirely in their midst. Mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, software engineers… this was clearly uncharted territory for me.
Fortunately for me, IPS has a unique hybrid personality and approach to both design and engineering. We are driven to create software and hardware products that are not only beautiful and enjoyable to use, but can also perform flawlessly and be manufactured efficiently. This is evident in how our Industrial Designers produce elegant, realizable solutions resulting in seamlessly functioning products crafted by our Engineers.
I’ve been able to settle in amidst all these factual yet endearing geniuses and help them share our important message with the world: We are your one-stop shop for ‘Unrelenting Dedication to Great Product Design.’ We offer a unique product design service, all under one roof. IPS can single-handedly take simple or complicated product ideas from start to finish. From something as basic as a light fixture to something as complicated as a complete IoT infrastructure, IPS can handle it all. Now that’s an awesome message to share!
So, here’s what I’ve learned so far about the role of a graphic designer in a high-tech product development marketing and sales landscape:
Design for Technology requires very strong visual stories.
Does a product design firm really have a need for a graphic designer? One important thing I’ve learned from my instructional design background is that most people are visual learners. Teaching the world about a high-tech product development company is no easy task, which is why the need for strong visual stories is huge. With the help of a myriad of programs found in the Adobe Creative Cloud, combining the company brand with easy-to-understand pictures, illustrations and graphics is a guaranteed win for getting the appropriate messages out.
A graphic designer’s ability to collaborate with other creative professionals and technical staff is key.
Since graphic designers these days are often called on to be a one-person creative department, good relationships with ID and Engineering teams are crucial. As a visual designer, I must understand the products or services I’m designing for in order to create clear, strong and compelling messages. If you’re fortunate like I am to work with a small, creative marketing team, you’ll have the opportunity to work with writers, photographers, social media pros, PR people, salespeople and project leads to get your company’s or clients’ messages out.
Designers must develop a significant knowledge of both digital marketing, UX, and UI to succeed in the tech industry.
No matter what, you’re going to have to understand the foundational bases for digital marketing and SEO in order to survive. Through creative branding, visual innovation and effective communication, we share, send, tweet, post, and whatever else it takes to engage the world with IPS’ capabilities. The most exciting part about my job is that I get to create these visual messages. From email and website imagery, video and print media, to fully loaded presentations and slide decks, the experience of designing to the IPS message has been the most thought-provoking and rewarding of my entire career.
It’s really hard to make some of this stuff look good.
Of course, there are lots of challenges to designing a visual message for a tech firm. Like, how in the world am I going to use my digital creation skills to illustrate the relationship between hardware and software? Or, how can I possibly produce a fun and instructional video animating the design process for an IoT thermometer?? You want a visually creative slide for a boring ol’ router??? These are just a few of the challenges I’ve faced, and overcome, in my first year at IPS!
Eventually, some of the techies will actually understand what you do and the value it brings to the company.
So, despite the fact that I cannot execute a single vertical slice of code for the full software stack within an agile rapid-dev cycle, or do a thermal analysis of anything at all, what I can do is create visually engaging presentations, digital collateral, videos, websites and publications that explain how others can and do. Being the visual messenger is an incredibly fantastic job when working with a group of engineers and ID folks, especially since the message is one that positively impacts the world with successful innovations and great products.