Stephen Randall invented the digital guitar, and is the founder of LocaModa here in Cambridge. He spoke today at the DMI conference on what he called “Moving Design from Impression to Expression”. I’ll simply call it, Design 2.0, a really articulate call to arms for the use and impact of social media in the design process.
As he said in his introduction, “what are the challenges facing brands, agencies, and designers, and how can multi-channel user experiences still result in a unified message?”
He began by describing the impressionistiic “old” media of books, TV, and radio as a media form that is a monologue . . one-way . . passive and a push form of communication. He then described the promise of web 2.0 as filled with expressionistic, open, real time, connected, cross-channel, cross-platform, user-generated content that has a foundation in personalization and collaboration.
As he spoke, it began to occur to me that when he described the form and function of “old” media it sounded a lot like a description of the traditional design process between a design consultant and client. A process that historically results in a monologue by the design firm and is usually a one way form of communication with the consultant doing most of the talking.
I began to imagine what a Design 2.0 process could act like. It would be much more collaborative and personal to be sure. It could be more interactive with the client, consumer and other stakeholders involved more often. It could be open source, and have a real-time component with various forms of social media playing a role. But serious questions began to emerge as I envisioned this new design process.
First let me be clear I come to this discussion as the owner of a package design firm. That means that while we make a transition from design process 1.0 to 2.0 I still need to keep the lights on. So identifying revenue opportunities is important to me and receiving honest value will continue to be important to our clients.
So at the end of Stephen’s talk I asked him what he thought Design 2.0 will look like, and if he has seen any examples of design processes and/or organizations that are beginning to make the transition. I mentioned that to me, at least so far, very few industries have survived this kind of turmoil intact. I mentioned the music industry as one example where the artists, music publishers, and retailers are all still struggling with new business models. And certainly the publishing and print media industry is going through similar strife at this moment.
I can’t think of a single industry that creates intellectual property that isn’t stressing about the future. Certainly crowd-sourced design sites aren’t a solution for much of anything other than stealing work from designers to the benefit of greedy web site operators and naive clients.
His answer was twofold. First, he was not aware of a specific case of a design firm that has changed its processes to completely embrace Design 2.0. And second, he suggested that the industry may need to go to more of a process based rather than product based compensation method. I guess this would suggest that a design firm act as the ring leader for the final solution rather than as the sole source for the solutions.
And I admit to being a bit confused by his final suggestion that we may need to look toward royalty based rather than fee based compensation systems. Hmmm. I began to wonder whether he has looked at the work for hire contracts that I am asked to sign with any of our large consumer product company clients.
So I was left with this. While I am a big fan of the notion of Web 2.0, and certainly have a growing appreciation, with the help and advice from friends like Grant McCracken, for its fundamental and ever-increasing role in keeping our firm in front of the world, I see it still as strategically a communications platform. So I am not yet sure how, or even whether, this communication platform should be used as a platform for the new Design 2.0 business model.
Anyone have any ideas?