Clive Roux, CEO of SEGD, recently visited the Cincinnati Chapter, which was a valuable opportunity for everyone to ask what may not be FAQ, but were definitely QTSBFA (Questions That Should Be Frequently Asked).
What can SEGD do to increase the industry and an individual’s “interdisciplinary” thinking and teamwork skills? Does SEGD risk losing focus or relevance when members access core disciplinary engagement through specialist professional organizations that align with their training like the AIGA or the AIA?
SEGD encourages collaboration and cross disciplinary thinking in almost every article and event we produce. By its very nature, Experiential Graphic Design is interdisciplinary. Our vision to create a community of practitioners who create experiences that connect people to place means that all our programming is tailored towards demonstrating how this interdisciplinary community operates to create the integrated solutions that represent excellence in the profession.
Members would like information such as roles, wages, benefits, industry trends, reliable rates, service agreements, job descriptions, etc. for the field of XGD. What is SEGD doing to produce that?
We have been working for 18 months to describe the business of XGD and now have a comprehensive overview of the field. All this work has been done in the SEGD membership database (integrated with the SEGD website), which means it will be available to enrich the content on the website and will also be searchable by members by the end of this year. Starting with minimal information on each member and firm, now all firms are categorized and connect to their websites; we’re still updating contact information. So for the first time, we can show a profile of the XGD industry and where XGD designers work. This was shown to the board for the first time in October. We’re also working on the first-ever industry profile for XGD, which will be distributed to the community.
This is now an on-going intelligence gathering activity. Members will be to access the information for free in the Business of Design section under the Xplore tab on the SEGD website.
How about competencies tied to training opportunities that you can find easily on the website?
This already exists!
Click on the Xplore tab at SEGD.org to see the SEGD Index. The first section consists of practice areas: Wayfinding, Placemaking, Exhibition, Public Installations and Strategy, Research, Planning. Click on one and you will find all the content—feature articles, member news, member bios, firm listings, weblinks, videos, sketchbooks and SEGD courses and events—for each practice area.
Also under the Xplore tab, you can see all SEGD content by Industry Vertical (like Healthcare or Retail) or Design Fundamental (like ADA or Branding).
With the valuable info you now collect using Leadfeeder on search and visits on the website, can firms review or purchase it for their own use?
We embarked on this intelligence gathering as a form of behavior research to learn what potential clients are seeking on our website. Knowing, for example, they will search for signage when they really need a wayfinding solution, helps us fine tune our tags and indexes. That allows potential clients to connect to you and your firm on SEGD.org much more effectively.
As this work is completely manual data mining - much like working with Google Analytics - we don’t have the staff resources to offer it as a service. But we will be producing summary information for the membership.
The work has proved our underlying assumption in the design of the new website that there were thousands of clients or potential clients visiting the site to look for designers, fabricators and vendors. This is true and we can now see over 170 City and Government Institutions visiting a month, over 700 universities and similar numbers of Museums, Healthcare facilities, transportation utilities etc. With over 40,000 visits a month, that should be no surprise given we only have 1750 members. If you are not on SEGD.org you are missing a huge opportunity.
Understanding the behavior of our site’s visitors also helps us design the information flow so they reach their search goals easier and more efficiently. It will also help us better describe what the site can do for members, and enable us to create new valuable member benefits.
Finding and retaining excellent fabrication partners continue to be a challenge. Is there opportunity for open dialogue about designers and fabricators helping each other execute with excellence?
There are many opportunities for open dialog. A series of conversations - possibly at the chapter level - and outcomes in an article outlining expectations from both sides would be a good start.
We are looking for a way to describe or index the criteria that designers seek in a fabricator. This would help tremendously in matching fabricator and designer on SEGD.org.
Making a match between designer and fabricator is definitely not easy yet and we are working on ways to help facilitate the partnerships necessary for great projects. Right now, you can start by looking at SEGD Sponsors, all of whom are very well respected partners in the profession. These firms are deeply involved with the organization, the profession and awarded for their excellent work.
As experiential graphic designers, how can we educate multi-disciplinary or non-design focused firms to let us solve the bigger, meaningful problem vs. providing the off-the-shelf solution they ask for?
The simple answer is that SEGD already promotes design excellence through the Global Design Awards and the regular weekly feature articles on SEGD.org. By ensuring that everything we produce online is search optimized, we’ve grown website visitors by 200% and pages views by 300% over the past three years. That is generating a lot of awareness for design excellence already!
The long answer is that we recognize the issue and we’re tackling it head on. Kate Heller, our Director of Content, is constantly looking for deeper dives for our articles. It is not enough to write a description of the project; we need to present in-depth details on the challenges the designer tackled, the thoroughness of their design process and the skill and craft of the fabrication. We ask about the ROI of each project we write about. We ask what criteria are used to measure the success of a project and what user research was done to determine the real issues to be solved.
It is challenging to get this information from firms. But we persist so that we can determine if there is really a commitment among the profession to solve the bigger problems or not. Graphic and Product Design have used Design Thinking as a language to ratchet themselves effectively into the C suite. I hear very little discussion about the use of Design Thinking as a process to get to the C suite in our community and I believe that is where the real issue lies. As we keep researching, we have a hunch that Wayfinding for instance is a cornerstone of the customer experience. We applied for a grant to try to do some research on that topic this year. However, it is customer experience that will be discussed in the C suite, not wayfinding, a component of it. Language is everything in getting to a strategic level.
I would find it rewarding to work with students in my community more, as a member of SEGD, not as a manufacturer or fabricator—but as a mentor.
Last year, we encouraged all Chapters to increase their outreach to schools in their cities, with a goal of creating stronger connections between students and our community. Mentorship would be a great addition to that outreach, probably at the local level, as it is far more effective over a cup of coffee than via email.
What has SEGD done to facilitate designer/fabricator interaction? What aspects of SEGD are most beneficial to fabricators?
We emphasize the equal importance of designers and fabricators in the partnership and standing within SEGD whenever we can. We have substantially improved sponsorship and advertising opportunities and benefits to ensure good value for fabricators and designers and a high profile in how we present our sponsors, including showing a headshot of the sponsor rep at events so people know who to connect with. We’ve been working to ensure that SEGD provides 50% physical benefits (through our events) and 50% benefits(through our website; that includes a big firms listing section - one of the top 20 pages on our website. On-line, we have implemented member bios and firm listings so the community can get to know each other more quickly, more effectively and in greater depth. None of this existed 3 years ago.
At a deeper level, there are effectively two types of fabricators. Those who view what they do as a craft and focus on producing excellence, and those who are volume producers more interested in small batch runs and volume. We don’t have a complete picture of what business model each fabricator works on as it is never even one or the other. SEGD allocates a lot of time and effort to highlighting excellence in the profession. Use the Awards and the listings of the partners who produced the excellence in every awards article to look for quality partners. That is where you will find this sort of information.
What trends are prevalent with digital technology for the built environment?
SEGD hosts Xlab every November in New York specifically to highlight what is happening at the cutting edge of digital. The Digital Technology link from the Xplore page on the SEGD website contains all the information that has been published about new trends in technology over the past few years: new applications of technology to create experiences in projects, how people are experimenting with new technologies such as digital mapping, Smart Cities, Virtual Reality and more. Another fantastic member resource is the collection of 50 videos from leading practitioners in the use of digital technology that can be accessed on the SEGD Talks page at SEGD.org. These videos from Xlab and other events provide a very clear picture of where the profession is in the implementation of digital technology into their projects.
How does SEGD report material developments and trends? What are some examples?
We have the mechanism: Member News. Once an item is posted on the home page, it cycles off into the appropriate Xplore tab as part of those indexed archives. We rely on members to submit their news and it’s tough to get them to think about SEGD.org as a news outlet. But with over 420,000 visitors every year, we are definitely a very good place to launch your newest project!