Is graphic design too white?

4 min read
Jonny Pathan
A person working on a laptop in a dark room

Graphic design has a monumental impact on society; we know that. From websites to logos, TV ads and mobile applications, almost everything involves graphic design of some sort.

As a graphic designer, my job is rather important. I am in a position of influence just like any other designer out there; we are paid to provide aesthetics that ultimately lead to the awareness, sale or use of a product. We have the ability to change people’s minds, the ability to alter a company’s public image. You’d imagine that to get the best results, the people responsible for this should pretty accurately reflect society.

So, is graphic design too white?

According to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, in 2013, the UK creative economy had 178,000 jobs in Design (product, graphic and fashion): 93.3 percent of those jobs were filled by those who are white, that means 6.7 percent were filled by all other ethnicities combined.

Let’s say your agency has a team of 100 designers, 6.7 percent of that team would be non-white. If you had a smaller team of 10 designers, only 0.6 percent of that team would be non-white: totalling just over half a person.

A representation of UK Graphic Designers ethnicity in 2013

What does this mean for graphic design in general?

You could argue that having a predominately white work force affects the creative output of a company. We tend to design for ourselves, imagining ourselves using a product or seeing an advert in the street. Are we being fair to the whole of society? When we’re creating websites we sometimes assume most people have newer computers that are able to handle more graphics processing and super-fast broadband; what if they don’t? What if I told you that two-fifths of people from ethnic minorities live in low-income households? That’s twice the rate of White people. Is a simple decision to create content that only works on a decent machine actually excluding certain groups due to socioeconomics?

Of course, you could argue that only a small percentage of the population are ethnic minorities and this is accurately reflected in the workplace. Not necessarily. In 2011 the total UK population amounted to about 63.3 million people. 87.2 percent white, 12.8 percent black, Indian, Pakistani, mixed and other. The numbers don’t match; there is a clear difference in the creative industry.

The real question. Why?

There are various factors attributed to reasons for the low number of minorities working in design.


Briefly touched upon earlier, socioeconomics could be a contributory factor. To learn, practise and hone your skills in design, you primarily need a computer and suitable software. That may be a small ask for some of us, but what if you were a teenager with no income, in a household with no income. Besides the computer, could you afford the monthly fees of Adobe CC: software package that is almost a staple purchase of any graphic designer?

Coming from a home with a low-income means when you look for jobs, you look for stability. The design world is notorious for instability, the majority of designers are freelance, and income is hard to predict.

“Parents and children in underrepresented groups don’t know that graphic design exists, let alone that it is a viable profession for a person with artistic talent. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that certain racial and ethnic groups actually discourage children from going into visual arts, pushing them instead toward science and engineering.” – Terry Lee Stone

Education & Culture

Terry Lee Stone wrote an article in 2006 called, ‘White Space: Examining racial diversity in the design industry’, the article detailed the disproportionate percentage of white designers in the U.S., relative to the ethnic make-up of the U.S. work force.

He also asked professional designers some probing questions, such as: “Do you make adjustments in your behaviour because of your race? Do you think you try to slip into ‘white cultural norms’ in your design work? Does race affect your design?” It’s questions like these that make you start to think.

What next?

Thankfully, there are bodies out there like AIGA, the professional association for design, providing much needed support and resources in this area. I highly recommend casting your eyes over their material if you get a chance.

This article is not meant to provoke, it’s more a set of questions that might make us think a little more about diversity in design and how we’d benefit from more of it. The more creatives we have from different backgrounds looking at a problem, the more likely we’ll have a balanced output.

And great design always has good balance.

According to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, in 2013, the UK creative economy had 178,000 jobs in Design (product, graphic and fashion): 93.3 percent of those jobs were filled by those who are white, that means 6.7 percent were filled by all other ethnicities combined.

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.


Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

Related Posts

Posts you may also like