EGD Core Competencies



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In 2007, the SEGD Academic Education Committee surveyed a broad range of environmental graphic design professionals, particularly principals of EGD firms, to identify the core competencies required of graduating designers. To complete the core competency review, extensive interviews were also conducted with college and university faculty in EGD programs. The academics and professionals who participated in the survey agreed that EGD students should work to achieve three overall goals:

  • A full understanding of the scope of environmental graphic design
  • The ability to participate in the work of a design firm
  • The ability to take a leadership role in the design process


The EGD Core Competencies were identified to guide university and college EGD programs in structuring their courses and programs. While no one course or program can satisfy all of the competencies, they do provide a framework when developing goals for student achievement. The EGD Core Competencies integrate two important concepts:

  • An understanding of the design process from initial concept through implementation
  • An understanding of design intent, or the ability to translate design goals into a visual communication approach


In 2017 SEGD conducted a Skills survey, which did not define Core Competencies as "Design" Core Competencies, instead, the survey asked which "skills" were important. The results provided some real insights. Firm leaders see "core competencies" as design competencies as well as the competences and skills required for professional practice!. In fact, the professional practice core competencies were increasingly the most important skills that firm leaders wanted designers to focus on as designers progress through their careers. In addition it was very clear that these are the competencies that will increase your value in a firm by positively contributing to the firms effectiveness and profitability. It is assumed that you are already a highly competent designer as you progress through your career. See the Professional Practice Core Competencies article for more information. See also the article on Experiential Graphic Design, XGD Core Competencies. Experiential is the term used to include all the communication design that uses digital and variable content to connect people to place. It is a broadening of the Environmental Graphic Design umbrella and includes the digital/interaction/content creation skills required to do that type of design work.

Core Competencies as they relate to the phases of the Design Process.


1. General Knowledge


>EGD Podcasts covering General Knowledge and History of EGD


> Learning Objectives and Outcomes related to General Knowledge of EGD


Knowledge of environmental graphic design

  • Understanding of the design process
  • Understanding of the different practice areasof environmental graphic design and the design firmsthat work in the field
  • Knowledge of the history and methodologies in specific areas of environmental graphic design
  • Knowledge of current high-level workin the field
  • Understanding of how EGD relates to other design disciplines including graphic design, industrial design, information design, architecture, and interior design


2. Analysis and Development of Design Concepts


>SEGD Workbooks that cover Analysis and Development of Design Concepts



> SEGD Courses covering Research, Analysis, and Development of Design Concepts



> Learning Objectives and Outcomes related to Analysis and Development of Design Concepts


Verbal and written communication skills related to concept development

  • Ability to articulate a design concept through formal writing and verbal presentation
  • Ability to use terminology related to environmental graphic design project planning and implementation


Ability to develop design ideas from a formal analysis

  • Understanding of how to incorporate design ideas into a formal design process
  • Ability to research design motifs and solutions and incorporate the ideas into an analysis
  • Ability to develop diagrams and written documents that communicate a design strategy


Ability to incorporate research into conceptual analysis

  • Ability to utilize background research on geography, cultural anthropology, demographics, environment, or architecture to develop a design concept


3. Design Development


 > SEGD Podcasts covering Design Development 



> Learning Objectives and Outcomes related to Design Development


Use of typography,color, and symbology

  • Ability to apply graphic analysis to design development including application of a consistent design palette of type, color, pattern, and materials


Legibilityand accessibility

  • An understanding of how comprehensibility, legibility, usability, and accessibility relate to design in the environment


Drawing and/or modeling in three dimensions

  • Understanding of massing, structural integrity, and relationship to human scale
  • Ability to draw dimensional design concepts in the design development stage
  • Ability to produce models and utilize them for design development
  • Ability to produce three-dimensional explorative drawings using computer software


4. Visual Communication


> SEGD Workbooks that cover Communication



> SEGD Podcasts covering Visual Communication

> Learning Objectives and Outcomes related to Visual Communication


Documentationand communication skills


  • Understanding of how different elements in a project make up a family sharing similar physical and functional traits
  • Understanding of scale and how to document and model at different scales
  • Understanding how documentation works throughout the design process, including plans, elevations, dimensional models, diagrammatic maps, and schedules
  • Understanding of how different design drawings and details fit together to provide a clear picture of designer intent
  • Understanding of how drawings and models are part of a larger communication process with the fabricator
  • Understanding of how to describe materials and methodologies and how they are expected to perform


5. Presentation


> SEGD Workbooks that covers Presentation


> SEGD Podcasts covering Presentation


> Learning Objectives and Outcomes related to Presentation


Team collaboration and presentation skills

  • Ability to create formal presentations as part of a team
  • Ability to collaborate with other students with complementary skills in architecture, industrial design, graphic design, or information design


Process presentation skills

  • Understanding of presentation approaches and methodologies for reviewing an EGD process from concept to final implementation


 6. Implementation 


> SEGD Podcasts covering Implementation



Learning Objectives and Outcomes related to Implementation


  • Understanding of the fabrication process including the relationship between the fabricator and designer



  • Understanding the qualities of different materials and fabrication methods
  • Ability to describe how and where materials, fabrication methods, and technologies will be employed


NOTE: The EGD Core Competencies above do not cover the expansion of the EGD umbrella by SEGD in 2013 to the more expansive term of Experiential Graphic Design, i.e. the inclusion of digital technologies, interface design, dynamic and static content, story-telling, etc. For the Experiential Graphic Design (XGD) Core Competences see here


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