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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Berdiel

How Does Digital Design Impact Under Represented Communities?

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

The Work

The apps we use to plan calendars and send random gifs, share tik toks, etc these are all elements created by a designer at some point. 2020 alone showed us the power of digital influence in the form of virtual conferences, digital business cards, and even concerts. Through design various forms of media were shared during a period where our own physical presence was more than limited. And those are only part of how digital design impacts our mainstream audience.

We often forget that art is fuel for change and awareness. A digital designer's role is to create visual representations that can traverse the cultural barriers and deliver a message. We do this through email, billboards, social media ads. While at times these designs are created for the purpose of sales or marketing, there is still an influence that created by these designers, a voice, a vantage point that is baked into the work. That influence can not be ignored as it it part of the reason you have the designs in the first place.

Representation Matters

Growing up I had the privilege of being raise in a home with black women in various roles. A psychiatric nurse, a pastor, a business woman, and a technical analyst, and a home maker. Each has its own influence on me carving a path as a digital creative. I was encouraged participate in math and science related programs as well as creative ones.

This all to be said my experience as a designer and developer has not been the same as my male peers. Nor is it the same a someone who had access tools or educational resources earlier than I, I as my childhood was not one that had such privileges. But I always had art, and a curiosity for sciences.

Going into a STEM career knowing I was takin on a role in which women represented a much smaller piece of the pie was not scary, as it seemed par for the course, That in itself gave me more reason to venture in this field. Of all the educators I have had only 3 were women teaching digital design related courses, and none of which were women of color. When asked to speak at Marywood University about my experience as a Front End Developer, I realized I had come full circle into the role of being the representation I once lacked.

Access to Resources

The pandemic shined a light on an issue I had not considered until schools began to close. When children went home there was an assumption that all children went home with computers and wifi. But having grown up in a community that did not have an abundance of resources as a child, I saw this as a huge red flag.

Access to supplies and resources are no guaranteed in low income neighborhoods. I believe that it's important to make sure students are aware of the impact that art has on a community to get things moving. By encouraging the development of art and design skills in youth, these individuals will be enabled to to give back and represent their community in the future. But access and funding of arts must be held to a high regard as well as science and math.

Giving Back

Over the past few years, as a freelance designer, my impact on under represented communities has been made by designing both digital and print assets for non-profit organizations, schools, and some small businesses. I've donated my time and craft to develop quality work, so that others may be able to have a chance to spread a message, host an event, or fundraise. Made X Misty will continue on in this stride as we search for a non-profit to donate our time and efforts to assist their marketing campaign efforts, and we are currently taking referrals toward that effort.


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