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Crowding at the bottom of the funnel

Note: I pursue Bachelors in Design, but spent most of my tenure bunking and helping startups. Take my opinion with a grain of salt.

This short note follows my thoughts over a twitter discussion. Someone pointed out that "crowding at the bottom of the funnel" w.r.t skill is becoming a rampant issue in the design industry. Others stated that any step to try and combat it doesn't amount to anything but gatekeeping.

Concern? The barrier of entry to call yourself a designer is non-existent. A byproduct of that is substandard quality across the industry.

Fighting this problem by tapping into privilege leads to an unhealthy community at best. Something NID attempted a while ago and met severe twitter backlash.

Design "Education" is far from the right answer. Certification is hardly a sign of a designer's capabilities. The best ones I know don’t have any. Even the ones who do rarely attribute their success to their academic qualifications.

In fact when I look around, I realize that college-made designers seem to be worse than their self-taught counterparts. I’m part of one such institution myself, remember?

  1. The Case Study Factory

For months I was unhappy about the mean quality bar of the industry being low. The ifs and hows of potential "solutions" remained unresolved in my head. No one was able to give me a convincing argument either for or against thinking about it.

Until today, that is. Enter Frédéric Bastiat, a Frenchman, with an excerpt from his 1850 essay: the Parable of the Broken Window.

When a child accidentally smashes a window, and then it has to be repaired, does the accident constitute benefit to society, due to the economic activity of repairing the window? Wikipedia

Consider the above example: a child smashes the window and his dad is furious. As consolation, the nearby witnesses remark "...it's alright that it broke, how else will the repairmen earn if no windows were to ever break?". This makes sense to Dad, who calms down and calls a repairman. The repairman fixes the damage, collects his fee and walks away after mentally thanking the child.

The above parts are all seen, something we observe and make sense of. But here’s the part that remains unseen: money that Dad paid the repairman, is money that he can now not spend anywhere else.

While the act of breaking the window did contribute to the repair industry, it took away from the movies. Something which neither the Dad nor the witnesses observed at first.

TL/DR: Bastiat demonstrated how opportunity costs and unintended consequences affect economic activity in not-so-obvious ways.

I now knew what I'd failed to factor in my equation. The "unseen" byproduct of continued influx of designers in the field!

  1. Design as a discipline gained recognition and demand. It led to far more opportunities today than there were a decade ago.
  1. It reached more ears, including those of the Indian parents. More potential talent considered design as a new career.

When we start to weigh in the positives of it, I find so much that can be attributed to the "widespread adoption" of design. Perhaps we'll close the gap. Perhaps with time, our standards will rise and designers of tomorrow will be held more accountable for their work.

More will be demanded of them, as it should be.

Thanks for reading!