Experiential designers: is it time to trash your spreadsheets?

The Society for Experiential Graphic Design recently published a design software survey – and the results are surprising.

Imagine if architects still sketched their designs by hand instead of using CAD or BIM software – creating buildings would be a far more inefficient process!

As such, we were surprised to see the results of the 2017 Experiential Graphic Design Software survey, published last month by the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD). The survey reveals that a majority of experiential graphic designers aren’t utilising asset management software – most are still relying on desktop programs like Excel and Word.

Why are experiential designers so much slower than architects to utilise software designed for their roles? Before we dig deeper, here’s a recap of the survey’s findings.

Design software survey

The Society for Experiential Graphic Design is a global, multidisciplinary community of professionals creating experiences that connect people to place. SEGD is committed to providing the Experiential Graphic Design profession with up-to-date benchmarking information on all aspects of their business – this survey is one of six released this year already.

In May 2017, SEGD interviewed 218 experiential design firms around the world and discovered:

  • 48.2% of experiential design firms don’t use Building Information Management (BIM) software
  • 72% do not use Building/Facilities Asset Management (BAM) software
  • Most design firms (96.3%) do use software for specification and scheduling (ie. linking physical assets to names and locations), but Excel is the most popular software (50.5%)

Still stuck on Excel. Really?!

Clive Roux, CEO of SEGD, says he’s actually not surprised that Excel and Word remain the two most-used programs used for specification and scheduling given they are “cheap and ubiquitous”.

“The main surprise was that very few [experiential design firms] use Building Asset Management software. That indicates that most firms do not see BAM as part of their offer or their role,” says Roux.

“Hopefully by reading this survey, they will become more aware of the standards that exist or are forming [for using experiential design software],” he says.

Best practice for design software

It’s safe to surmise that experiential designers working in small, independent firms typically choose lower cost, less complex software packages. The trouble is when projects transfer to other firms, or designers move between firms, it’s easy for information to get lost or out-dated because it’s not stored in one place – instead, it lives across spreadsheets, emails, InDesign, Word, AutoCAD and others.

“There is still definitely an opportunity for a software provider to come in with a good comprehensive software package that meets the needs of the profession,” says Roux.

Needless to say, the SEGD’s latest survey made us sit up and take notice because PAM is exactly that: a comprehensive software solution created just for experiential designers.

To demonstrate how EGD software like PAM delivers efficiency gains, we recently published ‘PAM makes cents’ – a report that you can read here

Achieve a 30% productivity boost

According to ‘PAM makes cents’, up to 75 percent of a design studio’s time on large wayfinding projects is spent on low-value tasks such as audit and documentation and scheduling, versus high-value services such as design and strategy.

Design firms typically sustain the hit of up to 75 percent that is consumed by low-value services. However, design firms that utilise EGD software – like PAM Wayfinding – can easily achieve a 30 percent boost in productivity. Documentation time alone is halved.

Is it time for experiential designers to say goodbye to Excel, and hello to EGD software like PAM? We’d love to know what you think! Get in touch or sign up for a demo below

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