Designing Digital Experiences in 2020

Presentation at Nuts+Bolts: AIGA Design Educator's Conference
15 June 2016
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH


Abstract

The students entering school next Fall will likely graduate in 2020. Most of those graduates will enter the field as designers who create digital experiences—what we think of today as websites, apps, or other screen-based media. However, they will enter a media landscape that looks quite different from that of today. As the educators of these future designers, it is crucial that we understand the digital platforms of the near future and try our best to prepare them to design in these new environments.

Today, many programs are still trying to figure out how to deeply integrate digital media into their curriculum. The academy rightly moves slower than industry and it has taken us several years to adjust to the new realities of digital design. In recent years, we have had some relief as designing websites and mobile applications has become much easier: our tools have improved, clear visual patterns have emerged, and interaction paradigms have matured. That said, a new wave of technologies is quickly approaching—or in some cases, already arrived—that will alter designers’ methods, processes, and outcomes in significant ways.

Over the next four years, the screens we design for will multiply and diversify, virtual and augmented reality will mature, wearable and ubiquitous computing will become commonplace, and artificial intelligence will enhance or replace everyday tasks. On top of the hardware changes, security, privacy, and ethics will be ever-present forces on how designers make decisions about their work. Students cannot prepare for these environments by simply designing a few websites or apps in school. To be successful, they will require a unique set of competencies. As educators, we need to take significant steps to update and augment or curricula to prepare our students for this new world.


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