DesignX founder Preet Singh welcomes the audience at the DesignX Design Leadership Summit 2019.

Design Leadership Summit explores the future of design 

Graphic Arts chats with DesignX Founder Preet Singh

There’s a term reshaping the world of design and it consists of two letters: UX. First coined in the mid-90s by American researcher, professor and author Don Norman, ‘user-experience (UX) design’ has become more than a trend. It’s changed the very focus of how the world designs. In UX design, rather than placing the emphasis on a designer’s vision or a company’s brand, the end user is the focal point. As the late Steve Jobs emphasized: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.” This means thinking about the human experience of the customer before a product or service is created, or asking clients about their experiences when it’s time for a change. Learning and listening to customer needs are clues into what they want to be re-designed. It means looking at what currently exists, and thinking about what could exist. It means looking at how your customers experience your services from start to finish, and seeing what areas could better align with their needs. 

Does your product look great, but is too complicated to use? Does your shop run smoothly, but doesn’t serve a fundamental customer need? Have you been providing the same great products or services for years, yet people seem less interested? Time to re-design! While this involves research and continual tweaking, the result is a business that continually uses its skills to better serve people. This UX process is done through a time-tested method that’s structured, while allowing room for intuition, personal expertise and experimentation. 

This approach offers a lot of promise to an industry looking to redefine itself. And there’s one organization, DesignX, looking to unite companies interested in developing better design practices. This vision is achieved through online Slack discussions, webinars and in-person events. Last month, DesignX hosted the Design Leadership Summit in Toronto, bringing together design leaders from around the world – including those from Facebook, Google, PayPal, Netflix and Salesforce to discuss the future of design. 

In sitting down with DesignX founder Preet Singh, he spoke about the vision of the annual conference as “connecting designers across the globe.” And while some may think that means only digital designers, from his perspective, it definitely also includes print. Starting out himself as a graphic designer (in a print shop) and moving towards web-based design, Singh believes that “the mediums might change, but the approach stays the same.” As we begin to see, “paper that’s tech-enabled but looks like paper,” the lines between technology and print are becoming more and more blurred. Singh sees this as a wonderful opportunity for both communities to connect. His vision for DesignX 2020 will be another interactive event where multi-disciplinary design leaders, (especially those involved in print) gather to connect and learn about design solutions that big tech have already incorporated into their business identities. 

He believes that “the nostalgia and love for print is still extremely strong” and that print designers have a lot to contribute to the merging of the digital and physical communication worlds. The UX design world is growing and DesignX sees the print world as part of its future, with vast opportunities to connect the worlds of digital and print media. 

The world of UX design promises to be one that brings companies into the future, helping them to better understand the needs of their customers and serve them in a way that’s both valuable and practical. Though methods of producing print have changed over the years, one of its overriding characteristics remains clear and enduring: people enjoy the physical experience of holding published work in their hands. In a world of mass digital experiences, print has actually become a coveted experience that DesignX sees as exceptionally valuable. UX design is all about understanding that change, and using it to improve your products and services.

To take part in the growing UX design conversation, you can connect with DesignX by visiting www.designx.community, where you can join a Slack group with design leaders from across the world (including some of the Design Leadership Summit speakers). For those looking to connect directly with Preet Singh to partner, or to become a future speaker, you can e-mail him at preet@designxcommunity.com.

A recent graduate of University of Toronto’s Masters of Adult Education program, Deirdre is passionate about storytelling, design and organizational psychology. To connect: linkedin.com/in/deirdre-mulcahy/.

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