Response to Homework #3: Much You Have Learned, And Much You Have Yet To Learn

Yoda 320 by 320

(image via)

Well, this class has been a whirlwind and we’ve got less than two weeks left!! At this point in every web design class I teach, I try to go all Yoda on the students and remind you that web design, like any other skill, just takes time and practice. I feel like in the short time we’ve spent together, I’ve reoriented you guys somewhat onto the path of doing good, sustainable design.

Now you just need to spend the rest of your lives perfecting your techniques ;-).

Here are some things to think about as you do that:

Always Remember that Modern Web Design = Content Strategy + User Experience Design (UX) + User Interface Design (UI) + Web Development/Programming

If you didn’t believe me when the class started out that modern day web design has gotten a bit more complex, I’m sure you do now ;-). And as I pointed out in an earlier post, though, almost no one does it alone, at least not well. It’s fine to practice this stuff on your own, and there have even been recent calls for design generalists, but as you have learned: for most of us mortals, specialization is important.

Really, we’ve been dwelling in this class on UI and Content Strategy, and a little big on Dev. Personally, I’m pretty comfortable in UI, CS, and UX, but realistically I know next to nothing about Dev, and that’s a whole different class, anyway.

Web development is also where you arguably bridge into a variety of different disciplines outside our own (computer science, information design, etc.). Some people in TPC (not our program per se, the field-at-large) would disagree with me there, but: you just don’t see much scholarship or practice in our field in true web development, meaning total fluency in languages like JavaScript and PHP, designing custom CMS’s from scratch, etc. There are exceptions, but that’s the rule.

Is that a bad thing? Maybe, but I’m not so sure. Programming is hard, but so is every part of that equation. UX, as those of you who just finished a class with me on that topic know, is inCREDibly difficult, and requires a bunch of distinct skill sets all on its own.

And CMS’s like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, etc. were invented because not everyone is a developer. And maybe that’s okay.

If I know one thing it’s this: it’s much better to trust an open source CMS and design a usable interface and architecture for that CMS than it is to be a great developer who makes things no one will use. And there are very few people who are both incredibly talented developers AND incredibly talented UXers. In fact, maybe:

UX <—————————————> Dev

???

I don’t know, but the point is you don’t have to be everything to be of use to the web design community. And typically you won’t be everything in a specific job. Just ask anyone in industry.

“Responsive” Design Means Multi-Channel, Not One Size Fits All

I also wanted to give you my two cents on the where the web is going, and that’s toward an “Internet of Things.” This new Internet will largely be composed of objects (code, content, all the same stuff we have now) that are programmable by end users. People will be able to create their own web applications that serve their needs. And those of us who have some kind of web design expertise will just be facilitators who create the basic platforms by which they do this.

In that situation, you won’t be able to just make one website that works for every single user. And it’s highly arguable you can’t do that now. So, remember: as Wachter-Boettcher says, the goal is to be adaptable and flexible. You don’t just design for mobile. You don’t just design for desktop. You don’t just design for handheld.

You design for where the actual people are who will use your design, and what they need. It’s that simple, and that hard.

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