Designing for Change

The power of purpose-driven content.

Designing for Change

Designing something that wins an industry award and a pat on the back from your boss feels good, but designing something that changes the world feels even better. With Adobe solutions, you can dream BIG, and create for a cause that can inspire action in the community. Whether it’s using Adobe Photoshop to capture the emotion, using Adobe Illustrator to design posters for the revolution, or documenting the leaders of change with Premiere Pro, Adobe products have played a critical role in many initiatives – but there’s real credit belongs to the visionaries behind the design – the geniuses who use their art to inspire action.

The power of purpose-driven design

Creatives have an incredible power to stimulate change through their work. Visual images can form an emotional connection with audiences that often drive people to act more effectively than words alone.

Many artists have already discovered the power of visual communication and the impact their work can have. Joy Li, a Sydney-based graphic designer, uses her talents to bring attention to cultural stereotypes and portray her own experiences as a first-generation immigrant.

Fellow Australian Joel Hanna designed a biodegradable toothbrush and uses 100 percent of the profits to support dental care in developing countries. Annie Griffiths, one of the first female photographers to work for National Geographic, documents the progress of international programs established to empower women and girls.

In a time when technology is connecting people around the world and shining light on various issues, designers and creatives are in a unique position to start meaningful conversations. “The designer is the translator of experience for the modern age, utilizing different mediums and platforms to communicate new ideas and social agendas,” Joy says.

Designer and writer Amélie Lamont sees this as a natural progression. “All design is inherently purpose-driven,” she says. “I think what we’re seeing now is a shift in people beginning to question and wonder about how deeply they want to facilitate purpose. They’re exploring how to use design as a way to shape and shift both the world they see around them and as a way to change the culture for perceived good.”

And it’s not just individual creatives. Corporations have a role to play as well.

“Collectively, organizations across the private and public sectors make a significant impact on Earth’s natural resources,” says Michelle Crozier, director of sustainability & social impact at Adobe. “Think about the amount of energy consumed — the number of commuters on the road and the tons of waste produced across every business in every sector around the world. Imagine if they all made commitments to reduce their footprint and invest in social impact programs that leveraged the time and talent of their employees in their local communities.”

What does purpose-driven design look like? Here are 5 tips to get you started

  1. Figuring out the “why – Purpose-driven design begins with figuring out the why behind the project. What problem does it address? What need does it alleviate? How can creative work make an impact?
  2. Develop a set of principles – The principles should be unique to you or your organization, but they should remind you to focus on the human aspect of user experience.
  3. Make it work – Determine how you can you make your design functional, as well as visually appealing.
  4. Consider working with other departments – Marketing, researchers, and data analysts can share details about audience behavior and expectations which you can incorporate into your creative strategy.
  5. Make content that demands you to listen — to your partners, to participants, to other designers, to those affected by the issues for which you’re advocating — and then implement feedback where it makes sense.

“When I create, it isn’t to change the world, it’s to do better. And doing better means listening because I don’t have all the answers,” says Amélie.

At the end of the day, remember who you are speaking to. You’re trying to impact a cause, therefore, the impact should be the highlight of the campaign. Amélie says, “If I have at least one person who says that my work has impacted their life in a beneficial way, they can take that and pass the torch to someone else.”

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