Words and pictures

15 March 2017 / Andy Wright

If you’re in any way connected to the world of design, or interested in its increasing convergence with technology, then John Maeda’s latest Design in Tech report is a must read.

One observation that resonates most with us, is that in our quest to engage audiences through sleek, intuitive interfaces, words are becoming more powerful than graphics. Yet the report points to an industry focused on all things visual, and to an over reliance on the interface — to the extent that writing itself has been left behind as a design skill. Trends in digital design lean on minimalist clean lines and few words — which give language itself more weight. But if not written well, the final product can lack the clarity it needs to be effective, and the personality required to maintain the brand experience.

We’ve built our business upon the principle that any piece of communication is driven by a single thought or concept, and that in turn is expressed verbally and supported visually. Words and pictures. In that order.

Other key themes from this year’s report include:

• Design isn’t just about beauty; it’s about market relevance and meaningful results
• At top business schools, design thinking is moving into the curriculum — driven by market demand
• Both McKinsey & Co and IBM have recently made appointments at their most senior levels for designers
• Adopting an inclusive design approach expands a tech product’s total addressable market
• Computational designers remain in demand at technology companies of all sizes and maturity levels
• Chinese design in tech principles and practices are leading the world, but are often overlooked
• Design tool companies and design community platforms occupy new positions of value for tech

Check out the full 2017 Design in Tech report here:


John Maeda is an executive, designer and technologist. His work explores the area where business, design, and technology merge. In 1999, he was named one of the 21 most important people in the 21st century by Esquire.

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