6 Graphic Design Predictions made in 1998

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6 Graphic Design Predictions made in 1999I was recently reading an issue of Critique Magazine from 1998 and I found an interesting article titled: “6 Predictions for the Millenium”. The article refers to six predictions that Marty Neumeier (the author of the article and current president of Neutron LLC, a San Francisco based firm specializing in brand collaboration) considered would occur as we transitioned from the 1900’s to the 2000’s. No, he doesn’t talk about computers crashing or Y2K destroying the world, but he does make some pretty interesting predictions. After reading the article, please leave a comment about any of the 6 predictions and whether or not you think these predictions have come true.

Prediction 1: Collapse of the Job Market

Here, Neumeier contests that as accessability to computer programs such as the Adobe Creative Suite and others, more people are becoming [or at least thinking they are] designers. This means that Graphic Design is no longer seen as a dead-end career or hobby, but a profitable career choice.

Do you think this prediction has come true? Let us know.

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Prediction 2: Specialization

Neumeier suggested, in 1998, that advertising agencies and design firms would “discover the strategic advantage of specialization.” He teaches that most design firms that have achieved any level of success or would do so in the future, specialize in one of five major areas:

  1. region
  2. project type
  3. client type
  4. personal style
  5. a combination of any of the above

Do you think this prediction has come true? Let us know.

Prediction 3: Collaboration

To quote directly from Neumeier’s article: “The truly influential designers will be those who find a way to collaborate–with other creative people, with marketing people, and with clients–on highly creative teams.” Can anyone truly say that this prediction hasn’t come true? With the huge role social media now plays in our lives as creative people, the only real way to do it is to collaborate. If we don’t, we are left behind. (follow me on twitter)

Do you think this prediction has come true? Let us know.

Prediction 4: Designer/Writer Partnering

Neumeier offers this simple formula: Design + writing = communication. While I would argue that you can convey a message effectively without words, I think Neumeier was on the right track here. Good copy writing adds a whole new dimension to design. I would even suggest you become a good writer yourself as a designer–frankly, it’s what employers are looking for when hiring creative people.

Do you think this prediction has come true? Let us know.

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Prediction 5: Audience-Centered Design

Lesson in a tweet:

“A great designer focuses on how to reach the target audience.”
click to tweet it!

The article reads: “As the design profession matures, the audience–not the client, the designer, or the message–will become the focal point of the creative process.” Neumeier suggests that as we mature as designers, and as the profession of graphic design matures, we will see more and more of this. Ten years later, I would have to agree whole-heartedly.

Do you remember when you first started designing? Everything you made was beautiful because you liked it or your mother liked i. As you mature as a designer, it is important to keep the audience in mind. There is a quote that I love that goes something like this:

“If you want to be a well-paid designer, please the client.
If you want to be an award-winning designer, please yourself.
If you want to be a great designer, please the audience.”

Do you think this prediction has come true? Let us know.

Prediction 6: Higher Rewards

In this prediction, Neumeier presents the idea that design firms will be making as much, if not more than, advertising agencies in the future. Now, ten years later, we see highly successful design firms that, I would dare say, live up to Neumeier’s predictions.

Do you think this prediction has come true? Let us know.

What about the next ten years?

Now it’s your turn. Above is what Neumeier and Critique magazine thought about the future in 1998. What do you think about the future of design?

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, and the founder of this blog. You can contact him via twitter at @prestondlee.

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  1. Interesting read and really quite ‘spot on’. Back in 1999 I was a web designer/graphic designer who wrote for fun. Now I find that both design and writing are equal components for communications which effect both design and marketing. Today I consider myself a professional designer and a writer. Clearly I’m not alone.

  2. Collaboration is definitely changing the game. Good designers are still good designers if they collaborate or not but it is allowing many to advance in ways not possible before. Very interesting stuff! : D

  3. While I would definitely agree with the first prediction, I don’t necessarily agree with the effect.

    “This means that Graphic Design is no longer seen as a dead-end career or hobby, but a profitable career choice.”

    It may actually be just the opposite. Now that people can buy a copy of CS and watch an hour or two of Lynda and make something that’s “good enough” for them, it’s eliminated a lot of work that used to be available. I get contacted with “hey do you know where I can get a copy of Photoshop cheap?” as often (if not more) as “can you bid a job for me”?

    Conversely — and bizarrely — it makes it harder when clients want to pay less (or not at all) when they know you know how to do something and already have all the tools and skills.

    It also creates an issue when clients that have gone the free/hobbyist route too long finally realize they need professional-level services, but then expect the same amateur behavior (no contracts, work-for-hire, etc.) and prices.

  4. thank for this info

  5. Great idea for an article. I’d to see more experts face this kind of reality check on their predictions.

    My responses:

    1. Collapse of Job Market. I don’t see it. Professionals still outperform amateurs in terms of quality and (more importantly) in terms of professionalism.

    2. Specialization. I believe this has happened to a large degree.

    3. Collaboration. Undoubtedly.

    4. You know, this is still a great idea, but so far it hasn’t really happened much (as far as I can see), the main exception being some SEO-influenced web design/web copywriting. I’m trying to sell a similar idea: the idea that information-rich technologies call for information-rich content-development. Meaning, more use of infographics and visualizations in web content.

    But as far as I can see, content development still tends to be the neglected orphan child in the web design process.

    5. Audience-centred design. Well, yes, everyone at least tries to do this, with the acceptance of focus groups, webstats etc. as key drivers of design decisions. It also creates a role for business analysts, which I like.

    6. Larger rewards. No idea, but I doubt it. How did Neumeier square this with his prediction that the job market would collapse?


  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by prestondlee: New blog post: 6 Graphic Design Predictions made in 1998 http://bit.ly/bRhs2

  2. […] 6 Graphic Design Predictions Made In 1998 […]

  3. […] Last but not least, you should specialize in something. This means you should either focus on a particular kind of client, project, style, target audience, etc. Work hard to be the best in your niche and you can then charge more for the work that you produce. (By the way, a prediction was made in 1998 that designers would have to specialize in order to stay afloat and be successful. Check out all the 1998 design predictions here.) […]

  4. […] 6 Graphic Design Predictions made in 1998 | Graphic Design Blender […]

  5. […] 6 Graphic Design Predictions Made In 1998 (graphicedesignblender.com) […]


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