Will design agencies become obsolete?
“Can you make it beautiful?” “Can you just dress it up nice?”, “Ah, there they are the artsy-fartsy!” Just some quotes that I was welcomed with in the course of my design life. And yes, I can usually make it more beautiful. If you don’t really understand, you could call it dress-up. And I do consider myself quite artsy indeed.
But that is not the essence of my work. I want to understand your business, improve processes, and make them understandable for your customers, that’s the essence. With as a goal; a great experience for your customers and a better business for you.
There is great value in design, it took me a long time to be able to clearly communicate it’s value. To a some extent that had to do with my (lack of) sales skills. But to an even greater extent with the low value that clients attached to design. Design was often seen as a after thought, you’d hire a designer, to check off that box in the project checklist.
"Design was often seen as a side issue. You hired an agency, they did their trick and you could continue."
Design as the main thing
That has since changed completely. As technology and society change continuously and at an increasing rate, companies must follow suit. Always reinventing and redesigning yourself. Companies are therefore regarding design as one of their primary issues and rightly so.
Where companies used to hire an angecy sporadically, they are now becoming an integrated part of the business on which the company relies everyday.
What does this mean for design agencies? Are they obsolete? Because why would you buy something that hou already have in-house? Buying a service you already own in nonsense but what do you own? Time for a metaphor!
"I see internal designers as a kind of general practitioner. They ensure that everything stays healthy and they remedy minor ailments."
What do you have in-home?
I see internal designers as a kind of general practitioner. They ensure that everything stays healthy and remedy minor ailments. They are concerned with the maintenance, optimization and expansion of an existing product. But sometimes the ailments get more serious. For example a baby needs to be delivered, or you want a new haircut! Your doctor is not the best fit for those jobs, you need a specialist.
A redesign of your existing product, the development of a completely new business or, for example, a new corporate identity. All things that require specialist work. Simply because it is not worthwhile to hire specialists for these exceptions. And when the surgery is done, the baby is born or your hair’s been dyed, your own designers take over again.
Agencies must therefore specialize even more. They must become surgeons, midwives, or hairdressers. But not general practitioners. In this way, agencies and internal design departments can complement each other perfectly. And make great products together!
"Agencies must therefore specialize even more. They must become surgeons, midwives, or hairdressers. But not general practitioners."
So will design agencies become obsolete?
I don’t think so. But what do you think? Thursday March 19th we organize a meetup on this subject at the Lifely offices. With people who think not, but also with people who think so. Exciting! It would be super nice if you would come too.