Why Maths Skills Are Crucial in Design Roles.
Rishi Sunak’s announcement last week that he wants all students to study maths until age 18 is great news for the creative world. Improving any nation’s numeracy skills is a crucial step in ensuring a strong and capable workforce for the future.
As a creative director of a design school with a focus on education that aims to help individuals move into creative roles within the workforce, and as someone with a Mathematics undergraduate degree, I believe that mathematics education should be a top priority in our plans. Investing in this now will pay off for both individuals and the economy as a whole.
Will it be suitable for everyone? No. Will not studying mathematics stop people from being successful? No. When I first enrolled in my maths undergraduate programme way back in 1999, I have to admit that I didn’t fully see the value of what I would be learning until quite a few years later. I can now fully understand why my mathematics education has played a pivotal role in how I’ve navigated my career. All I hope is that this announcement will encourage young people to see how this can be an advantage for them if they wish to pursue certain creative and design careers.
Before I explore the value of maths in specific roles, here are a few reasons why maths is important for those aiming to work in creative fields.
- Maths can help with creative problem-solving: mathematics can help designers and product managers to approach problems in a logical and systematic way, and to break complex problems down into smaller, more manageable pieces. This helps ensure that all relevant factors are considered and that potential solutions are thoroughly evaluated.
- Maths enhances design skills: many design principles, such as symmetry, balance, and proportion, are based on mathematical concepts. Understanding maths can help designers create more visually appealing and effective designs.
- Maths can help with budgeting and planning: Creatives often work on projects with tight budgets and deadlines, and maths can help with budgeting and planning by allowing them to make more informed decisions about how to allocate resources. They might use financial modelling to predict revenue or profitability, or use statistical techniques to forecast demand for a product.
- Maths enhances teamwork: Creatives often work in teams, and maths can help facilitate communication and collaboration by providing a common language and framework for discussing ideas.
- Maths helps with data visualisation: Many creatives work with data in some capacity, whether it’s creating infographics or designing user interfaces. Maths can help with data visualisation by providing the tools and concepts needed to effectively represent data in a clear and concise way.
- Maths helps with communication: Math can help product managers, designers, and strategists communicate effectively with stakeholders by providing a common language and framework for discussing data and ideas. For example, they might use data visualisation to present information in a clear and concise way, or use statistical analysis to support their recommendations.
Product Managers can use maths skills to help with demand forecasting, financial projections and helping to turn data into meaningful insights that can be presented to stakeholders in order to get crucial buy-in.
Mathematics can be a valuable tool in creative problem-solving, user experience design, and product management in a number of ways. Some specific ways that mathematics can be helpful in these fields include:
- User Experience Designers: Maths can be used to create data-driven designs that are based on user behaviour and preferences. For example, mathematicians can help to analyse user data and create algorithms that can be used to optimise user flows and increase conversions.
- Product Managers: Maths can be used to analyse market trends, forecast demand, and create financial projections for products. This can help product managers to make informed decisions about product development, pricing, and marketing strategies.
- User Researchers: Maths can help user researchers determine the size and composition of a sample that is representative of the population they are studying. This is important because the study’s results will be more accurate and reliable if the sample is representative of the population. Maths can also help user researchers analyse the data they collect to identify patterns and trends. For example, they might use statistical analysis to determine whether there are significant differences between groups, or use regression analysis to understand the relationship between different variables.
- Service Designers: Maths can help service designers simulate and model different design options to evaluate their performance. For example, they might use mathematical models to forecast the demand for a service or to understand the impact of different design choices on customer satisfaction.
Learning maths at a secondary school level can be incredibly beneficial for a creative or design career. Maths helps with problem-solving, enhances design skills, aids with budgeting and planning, facilitates teamwork, and helps with data visualisation. It is a valuable tool that can be applied in a variety of settings, from user research and product management to strategy and experience design, which we know are important roles in industry-leading organisations globally.
So, for those young people that are considering a creative or design career, don’t underestimate the importance of maths. It may just give these people the edge they need to succeed.