It is hard to believe, but we are already in the fourth year of modernizing SEGD, upgrading the membership benefits and still making steady progress with our performance indicators—which are pointing in the right direction.
SEGD finished 2015 at record highs in many of our key performance indicators, including membership (at a new record of 1,795 members), chapters (24 chapters with 52 chapter chairs) and record website visits, new visitors and page reads. Our finances look strong. We completed the rebuilding of SEGD’s financial reserves a year ahead of target, achieving a very important step in the development of SEGD’s future sustainability. This, along with a shift in how we develop our annual budget, should provide more stable operating conditions for SEGD when the inevitable downturn comes our way. The goal of these changes is to minimize the effects of the recurring boom-and-bust cycle that SEGD (and most associations) are prone to by operating at zero-net revenue budgets. If we succeed, it will enable us to continue investing in innovations to continuously improve SEGD (albeit a bit slower in the recession times), instead of spending the best part of an economic upturn trying to recover from the most recent downturn, as we have done for most of our past. This will make our association stronger and more sustainable.
We struggled to match our 2014 performance in event registrations last year. They were at historic highs in 2014 and close to that in 2015, but we did not grow as anticipated. Was it because our design members got even busier last year?
Nevertheless, SEGD still delivered even more value to the membership! Recording all the sessions and making them available to members on the website via SEGD Talks resulted in more than 35,000 views last year! Visits to SEGD Talks are up 86% over the first quarter 2015 and conservatively, at least five times more people gained educational benefits from viewing the sessions on-line! That drove a huge improvement in SEGD’s mission to provide quality education for the profession to a much broader group that ever before.
This improvement in benefits is particularly important for our international members, students and junior members of studios who rarely get to the events.
SEGD’s chapters have never been stronger! Kudos to our 52 chapter leaders for the outstanding work they did to activate and engage the Experiential Graphic Design communities in 24 cities by organizing 84 events last year!
With their local physical presence, the chapters are a core part of our community’s strength. Please take the opportunity to thank your chapter chairs whenever you can; they do great work to build the SEGD community and maintain our reputation for being the warmest, friendliest, most helpful design community anywhere! Join in your local activities, volunteer and help build a strong SEGD community in your city.
Ongoing structural improvements
The SEGD organization has been undergoing a complete redesign. Hopefully the changes all look smooth and clean from the outside. (Yup, it looks quite different under the hood!)
Our core values of being the warmest, friendliest, most helpful association will not change. And we are adding three more values that we believe are critically important: we want to be innovative, tech-enabled and always striving for excellence. These values are more aligned with modern web-enabled service organizations than volunteer non-profits, just what we need to ensure that all members keep seeing better value from SEGD!
Every association suffers from the same issue: Between 60% and 80% of the membership never get to experience that warm, friendly, networking side as they do not get to the physical events. This is especially true for international members, students and younger studio members. Therefore, in order for an association to be relevant, it needs to deliver value to that group in a different way. This is why we are putting so much emphasis on developing our virtual presence, access to our content and upgrading the functionality of our website as you have no doubt experienced with our vastly improved presence and content as we work to bring SEGD to you! So far the numbers support our efforts!
The SEGD Board of Directors has been hard at work making sure that we keep on track with developing the most important benefits for the community. In March, we defined the top four priorities for SEGD:
1. Build awareness for Experiential Graphic Design/help get XGD involved earlier in projects (by promoting the benefits and successes of XGD)
2. Attract Gen Y to the profession
3. Help connect firms to qualified staff
4. Develop business intelligence for the profession
What to expect from SEGD in 2016
Expect a steady progression in the development of the website into a more functionally useful tool to meet the four key priorities.
This will be achieved in two ways: 1) advanced search functions for designers, firms and projects and 2) connecting our back-end data to our content to enrich what you can see about a designer or firm and help connect the community more fluidly. You might have already seen the first implementation of this in the job title rollovers for the member bios.
Our ultimate goal is that 50% of the value/benefit of being an SEGD member will be delivered through the website at your desk or couch, thus increasing the value of SEGD as a vital tool for all members, everywhere, anytime.
50% of the membership value at your desk is a lovely thought; however, it takes a massive amount of work behind the scenes, as we are discovering.
The staff have been cleaning up and enriching our member data (now integrated into the website) for the past eight months in preparation for the launch of the advanced search functions in Q2 of 2016. This will improve the site’s members and firm-search capabilities and support connecting clients, designers, fabricators and vendors.
Some exciting enhancements to the SEGD Conference experience are coming, but you will have to attend to experience them! Make your plans to attend the 2016 SEGD Conference: Experience Seattle June 9-11.
And last, but not least, a new exciting SEGD Annual publication, promoting and celebrating excellence from the people and projects that make up our profession, will be delivered after the conference.
Making SEGD a more vital resource: the core of our strategic plan
In 2015, we made some good initial progress toward our overarching goal of making SEGD a more vital resource for members. We did that by adding two specific member benefits:
Content: SEGD built a library of more than 100 free videos from the workshops for members and more than 5,300 articles about the members, their firms and projects!
Referrals: segd.org delivered $112,000 worth of referrals (if members had to pay for this using Google Adwords) to members’ websites from the site’s search optimization work and through the Member Bios and Firm Listings the staff created for members last year.
That translates into 25,000 referrals to members’ websites, or about 10% of our visitors moving from segd.org to your sites! We have developed a large audience, and the more you contribute to segd.org, the more you get in front of this audience of more than 240,000 unique visitors. This has always been the case with association membership, but now even more so with the new site-specific search functions coming soon that act very much like a Google search based on relevance.
2016 is already setting new records!
The SEGD Global Design Awards grew by another 24% to a new record high this year with some very exciting winners emerging from the jury session led by chair Stephen Minning (BrandCulture, Sydney) in late February. (Forget about it, he’s sworn to secrecy!) Don’t miss the awards reveal celebration at the conference this year with its combined SEGD Excellence and SEGD Global Design Awards function at the conference finale on Saturday evening, June 11.
The education program took another step forward this year as Justin Molloy, Director of Education, organized our six events into:
Three traditional practice-area events
- SEGD Wayfinding (April, Miami)
- 2016 SEGD Conference: Experience Seattle and SEGD Academic Summit (June, Seattle)
- SEGD Experience and Exhibition event (August, Washington, D.C.)
Three digitally focused events
- 101 Xplorer Bootcamp (July, Los Angeles), a beginners-targeted event focused on integrating digital technology into XGD projects
- DesignX at the Digital Signage Expo (March, Las Vegas), which explores successful implemented projects built around improving customer experiences
- Xlab (October, New York), the record-breaking event focused on new ideas, digital technologies and trends to create compelling experiences that connect people to place
The education program is organized this way because we heard from many members last year that they rarely see an RFP that does not ask for some digital component. In November 2014, we heard from our firm leaders survey that “understanding how to implement digital” was a key issue for firm leaders.
SEGD remains very focused on making sure that in addition to being warm and friendly, we become more vital and of much higher value to our members, whoever and wherever you are in the world!
It’s time to book for the 2016 SEGD Conferenceand join your community for a celebration of design and excellence in Seattle!
Thank you for all your support and feedback on SEGD’s journey toward excellence!
Clive Roux, CEO