Where the design community meets.
I think that's the natural path for many designers. I've been in the business for almost 25 years now, and I've moved from "traditional" graphic design (print work, business collateral), to website design (and building simple, early CSS/HTML), to learning front-end development and backend coding (PHP/MySQL), to launching my own practice (for a decade), to cofounding, building, and growing a startup (for 5 years), to now managing/hiring/developing product designers (UI/UX) to build design teams within corporations.
Most any designer will eventually have to ask themselves if just executing and delivering design is what they want to be doing when they're 50 (which I am fast approaching). You can make a living doing that, but at some point, depending on the person you are, you will start to ask yourself if that's really what you want to do.
There are very few designers that get exalted into the world of being sought out and paid insanely well for their solutions. But there is always need for people to communicate, lead, and grow others with what you (may not even realize) you know.
I'm 46. I don't think of myself as old (that is until I learn that many of the peopleI work with are closer in age to my children than me — but that's neither here or there).
I believe there is more a "fear" of ageism versus and actual problem with ageism. We all fear that will be judged, not based on our talent or experience, but on things we are not able to change. And that can and does happen, but I don't believe it's systemic (though I don't have anything other than anecdotal evidence).
The most experience I have related to "ageism" is related to "costs", because experience almost always equals expense. Companies that are more interested in saving money than in paying for talent, it's not ageism, it's shortsighted stupidity. The best teams are the teams with diversity (in age, gender, ethnicity, ability, experience, expertise, etc).
I've been in design for 25 years. I'm in the position now of hiring and leading and growing other designers. Age has never been something I've thought about — I'm more likely not to hire someone because of their personality and attitude (willingness to learn and collaborate) than their age. And as I've seen written, ageism does cut both ways.
There are far too many words that need, at the very least clarification, and at the most consensus. What is "older"? When you're 36? 38? 45? 56? What is "better"? Better in creativity? Design solutions? Effectiveness? Leadership? Patience? What is "younger"? 21? 29? 35? Without having any sort of commonly understood definition of what any of that means, there can never be any worthwhile discussion.
I've been in the design industry for about 25 years now. Through all of that time the fundamental conceit of the job — no matter what new title is used, information architecture, UI designer, graphic designer, pixelpusher — design is (overall) a commercial endeavor; it's making things for the purpose of commerce. Obviously design can and should be used to propel ideas (posters, websites, etc, etc); but overall, a career is made in the commercial part of design.
One has to decide if there is any corporation or product that ultimately, in today's iteration of "free market" economics, doesn't just make the rich get richer. One also has to consider what is "good" and what is "beneficial"— what qualifies as good? Does working for a hospital or a health care provider qualify? Does working for a nonprofit? Or working for marketplace that creates income for others qualify? Given enough time, you'll be hard pressed to find many organizations, products, entities, apps, markets, etc, that don't eventually succumb to greed. That's just my observation.
I recently changed our job titles from UI/UX Designer to Product Designer for a few reasons. I felt it was important to vet and inform potential employees of what is involved in designing and building a product (verses designing and building for clients in an agency setting), as well as the skillsets involved in building a product (sprints, squads, frontend development). It involves all the same things as UI/UX, but with specific expectations and executions.
Visual communication doesn't always directly relate to current relevance.
Most people don't use phone headsets anymore, but we still know what it means when we see it. Being clever and new doesn't always translate ...
Does this baby have ass rain? Is it bleeding? Is the mom throwing it away?
What might be an alternative (to save/floppy) that users universally would understand?
Yes, and everything above and below.
I'm 45 (and been in the industry since 1995 -- 22 years?! Ugh) and my relationship with design is probably no different than anyone's trajectory within their career. The further I progress in my career, the more I manage and lead than explicitly execute.
Your experience can't or won't always be applicable, appreciated, or needed for any given business environment. You have to find the right fit, learn and grow, and as years turn into decades, you should continually find where you are the piece that completes a businesses needs, objectives, and goals. You will have to know your strengths and weakness, so you can improve where you lack and build value where you excel.
But the world as a whole (at least in America) does not value age and experience. It's not just specific to our industry.
It's hard not to get cynical about the industry, considering I was "mutually let go" from a startup I cofounded not all that long ago. But that's the nature of that specific business community. It's not that way everywhere.
One can only hope that if you're doing the above, that your career lasts. But there is no guarantee for anything, which is why I don't spend much time worrying about it.
Constantly. As someone who has been doing this for over 2 decades, I have witnessed the shift toward systems and processes. There is nothing inherently wrong with those. Design fits nicely with them (because design is defining and organizing systems of information).
I don't fault systems. Systems are benign. A tool without a hand is not a tool. But a system without logic, without purpose, without testing or research, isn't design, it's at best engineering, and at worst lazy trend-chasing.
Where the design community meets.
Designer News is a large, global community of people working or interested in design and technology.