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design profile gives insight into your design styles and preferences

Design: where are all the doers?

Whether you identify as a project manager, engineer or designer, when we come together to create solutions, we are designing. And effective design relies on a range of skills, attitudes and thinking patterns.

Design Profile is an online psychometric tool that gives you insight into your natural design style and preferences. We have noticed some interesting trends, as people from around the world have been using Design Profile to identify their preferred styles. 

Around half of the respondents are either Pioneers or Strategists - two design profiles with abstract and explorative mindsets. Much fewer designers are appearing who have concrete and focussed styles.

Why is this and what could it mean for design?

Design Profile

Design Profile evaluates your design style on three dimensions. How do you relate to others and the design process - are you more people or design-centred? How do you think - are you more of an abstract or concrete thinker? And how do you like to work - are you explorative or focussed on detail?

The combination of these three dimensions makes up a pattern of behaviour and preferences that define your profile.

the eight design profiles

Abram El-Sabagh's profile'
Abram El-Sabagh
Kerstin Oberprieler's profile'
Kerstin Oberprieler

The Design Profile results so far

Around 750 people have completed their Design Profile. They come from over fifty countries and industries as diverse as Aid & Development, Agriculture, Manufacturing and Social Services.

Respondents are graphic designers, industrial designers, software engineers, UX designers and web developers.

They are also engineers, project directors, farmers, policy officers and lawyers.

Most design profiles are Pioneers and Strategists

From this diverse global group, more than half have the Pioneer and Strategist profiles.

In Australia, the trend is even more pronounced, with 64% of 375 designers being Pioneers and Strategists.

The other profiles each make up much smaller proportions of the whole. 

Notably, the two profiles which complement Pioneers and Strategists, Makers and Producers, are 9% and 3.5 % respectively in Australia.

Australian design profile results

Why does this matter?

A balanced team improves design. Pioneers and Explorers lead the way, and are great in the early divergent, explorative phases of a design project.

But we need Producers and Makers to move us towards a conclusion and ‘get the job done’. They shine during convergent phases.

Different Design Profiles perform better at different stages in the project

If there is a relative shortage of designers with concrete and focussed styles of working, we may have difficulty moving from the chaotic big picture to the order and detail. Our projects may be less likely to deliver outcomes on time.

A good designer, however, can shift in different contexts and into different modes of working throughout the design process. Perhaps the Pioneers and Strategists are reflecting their preferences with Design Profile, but have adaptable design skills to progress through a project.

Individually, these considerations remind us that we need to adapt our style as the project progresses, even if it is not where we comfortably sit.

In a broader group, this prompts us to include people with Producer and Maker skills in the design team. Diversity makes a stronger team and produces a better outcome.

Why might Design Profile be encountering more Pioneers and Strategists?

Design work attracts creative and innovative people. Perhaps the more abstract and explorative profiles are naturally going to make up the majority of designers.

Those who fit in the more concrete part of the spectrum may identify themselves differently, perhaps as project managers or engineers. Maybe these people are not completing the survey, although there are many in those roles who have done so.

More to follow

Design is an exciting and fascinating field. Using Design Profile is just one way you can better understand your preferences and natural styles, and improve the diversity of your design team. 

We will continue watching the results as they come in. As we engage more organisations using Design Profile, we will gather more data on what makes a good team and how designers shift their style as designs progress.