Published: 06 August 2014 Across the world the digital era is taking grasp and transforming countries entire social and economic structures. The UK is no different to this and being a designer in this age has given me a great mix of negatives and positives to deal with. The digital era relies on technological functionality creating a knowledge-based society, which causes us to adapt our lives to suit its need. Our everyday understanding of industry is always changing and it can be hard to keep up, which has caused designers to learn to surf the wave of digital progression and develop with the times of change. Whether this is following the fashions of web design or learning new software, it is no longer enough to be content with ones current skill set.  

Originality is the ability to create with unique substance, which has not been copied or based on any existing work. To be original is one of the hardest things for a designer to overcome. To produce something from nothing is a rarity in the digital era. With the access to unlimited knowledge available at the touch of a keyboard or the swipe of a screen has offered a community of inspiration, which ultimately results in unoriginal ideas.  

Now we are all connected via online networks, it is easier than ever to share knowledge, information and ideas. There are some great positives that come with this connectivity and it has allowed us to develop and push the digital era to new and exciting places. In the last ten years we have seen the development of the ‘smart phone’ and this is really sculpting the design landscape for web. From a developer’s viewpoint, responsive web design has pushed designers into a new realm of fluid and adaptable design. We are pushing ground breaking design together as one online force.  

Before the digital era designers could develop a revolutionary concept and allow it to remain fairly anonymous. If a designer had an original idea then it didn’t have to be ‘shared’ or ‘liked’ the moment it was created but could be used for the client and gradually be released into the world. Releasing concepts for instant gratification online has created an assimilation of design. Designers can now base work upon what is considered ‘new’ or ‘revolutionary’ but we have no time to consider whom the original author or creator of the concept is. An example of this would be the rise of the Parallax theme in design. From its creation in 2011, Parallax web design has dominated the last few years of web design. However, in the three short years since creation it has come so far and been developed in such a variation of ways, the original use has almost been lost. Personally, the more subtle use of the trend in 2014 has stripped away the over-elaborate effect which once was.    

So has the digital era killed originality? I would argue it has certainly created trends by consensus. Now when something is considered good it is approved by the design community and replicated before the original ever received any real chance of recognition. We move through the world of design in waves of socially and professionally networked individuals, all helping one another find the best solutions for developing our industry. This is great for designers to work as one global team and improve each other’s quality of work. Nonetheless, we still need those individuals who will put their head above the parapet, ignoring the general consensus and spear heading the next wave of design. It is up to these designers to maintain originality in the digital era and challenge the network of consensus.  

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