We just published a new look at the design industry and the trends driving it. Forrester clients can see it here: “The Design Industry, 2021.” We estimate the size of the global design industry to be $162 billion and believe multiple software categories used in design will grow more than 20% this year.

And right on the heels of our report, even more signals have emerged that point in this direction:

  • The number of designers is probably going to grow even faster. Last month, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released updated employment projections for the next 10 years. In it, BLS doubled its pre-pandemic “web developers and digital interface designers” growth projections for the next decade. Our recent global survey of design teams found that half expected to grow in 2021 and one-third expected to grow by more than 25%. And that’s probably low, as that survey was fielded during the summer and fall of 2020, when economic conditions were more uncertain.
  • Tech spending forecasts are being revised upwards. Andy Bartels’ newest US tech forecast predicts 6% growth in spending in 2021 and 6.5% in 2022.

This spending reinforces existing trends like:

  • Digital transformation and cycles of design. Once you start doing design well, it’s hard to stop. Once you’ve transformed any process or experience digitally, it’s hard to do it the old way. It’s hard to go back to a lack of iteration, to not testing with users, and to a lack of monitoring for insight into performance. Multiple vendors in the design categories have told us they’re seeing more demand and growing more than what we estimated they would.
  • Better design in the workplace. Companies are finding bad design for work can cost them millions. This justifies added funding for design — from both the buyers and vendors of software. Stripe was recently valued at $95 billion because, as the Financial Times put it, “Stripe’s is not the cheapest rate available but key to its appeal is speed and simplicity of integration … Its online tools are designed to be easy for businesses to adopt without needing a large sales force or support team.” Stripe was a Leader in our recent Forrester Wave™ evaluation of merchant payment providers for similar reasons.

Add this to our documented trends in B2C and B2B buying behavior that emphasize usage, the growth in AI adoption (design is key), and the expanding extended reality opportunity. Finally, our studies show design buyers are coming from across the organization, and design reports into many parts of the organization. That all tells me design is an enterprisewide priority that shows no sign of slowing down. On the contrary — it’s accelerating.