What is a Communication Designer?

A few years ago, I graduated from Emily Carr University with a degree in Communication Design. But, what kind of skills did I learn from that program? First, let’s look at how Emily Carr describe Communication Design:

“The Communication Design program allows students to explore and research cultural, historical, technical, ecological and theoretical issues in which to develop an engaging and relevant design practice. Communication Design includes print design, interactivity, and motion graphics…students can refine their interests by focusing on illustration, typography, wayfinding, information design…etc. Graduates are part of a community of thinkers and makers who are capable of dealing with complex ideas, situations and teams of experts…”

What a description! Yes, I think I have done all that in school. I was engaged in research, learning, concept development, structuring and presentation. But, what is missing from the description is that this program is actually very multidisciplinary. We worked on projects that are in the other discipline like interaction, experience and industrial design.

Communication design isn’t just about making things pretty. Of course aesthetics is important… everyone loves beautiful and usable things!

However, it’s also about…
• Designing a visual system that create hierarchy and order.
• Communicating the right message
• Making complex problems simple.

From those projects, I learned that the design process is the same regardless of what the medium is. In the end, it’s all about being creative and solving problems in a new and meaningful way. But.. it took a while to get to this understanding.

Looking back, I thought of being a designer was to create visually pleasing prints and websites. I never understood the importance of user experience and how relevant it is to design. It wasn’t until coming back from Japan, I realized that there’s more to it than visual.