Impact of Electronic Technologies on Print: Creative/Designers

At the forefront of graphic-rich image applications are catalogs, marketing collateral, and direct-mail applications often deployed by small businesses with frequent turnover—resulting in the need for more design services. These are just beginning to be impacted by electronic technologies (see Exhibit 1).

The creators’ and designers’ eye for photography and image placement/positioning gives them a great advantage over website creators focused on programming and coding. While the tools are in place to allow self-service design, a professional’s eye will provide a level of quality unmatched by a layman. It’s akin to designing your own house without the help of an architect. The design may be functional, but not necessarily esthetically appealing.

Website design is also opening up a whole new category for creators and designers of print: video. High-quality video (as opposed to do-it-yourself YouTube videos) integrated into websites.

Threats to Creators and Designers
While online technologies are opening up new, incremental opportunities, they are also removing the low-end of print design services. With web-to-print services becoming more popular, self-service design using a limited range of standardized templates is becoming more common. These applications were often low-value applications, so the loss in revenue may not be as great as the loss in terms of number of jobs.

Yet to be sorted out is the ability of creators and designers to keep up with electronic technology development. For example, educational book industry migration to electronic books is proceeding slowly, in part because the expectations for electronically interactive books are not yet matched by the availability of designers within the traditional publishing industry. Software-based start-ups in Silicon Valley, such as Inkling, may well surpass traditional educational book designers in their ability to make content truly interactive.

The good news for designers of print is that the migration to interactive content will take years to perfect, not just because of the skill sets, but also because of the funding that will be required to rewrite and design content to make it interactive.

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