Time to get real. The web is no longer a teenager. We live in the digital age. If you have a job building the digital world, it’s past time you learn how a web site works and how it is made. The time when a marketing strategist could get by saying “I’m a print guy. I don’t get that web stuff.” is beyond over. Web, mobile, print, TV, they all work together creating seamless experiences. Or at least that’s what your audience expects of your brand. Throwing up your hands in ignorance of one channel does not amplify your brilliance in those you claim to understand.
At the risk of breaking into a rant I’ll speak plainly. I get it that you are a gifted graphic designer. Really, your shit is beautiful. Photoshop is an extension of your physical being. The problem is Photoshop is not your medium. Designing for digital means that screens, pixels, browsers and apps are your media. If you want to design awesomeness, you need to learn how to best exploit their attributes like a painter understands paint and canvas.
Myopically focusing on your pixels handicaps the teams who build what you imagine. You are limiting your own pool of ideas; limiting your usefulness in a world of collaborators. You are the lab partner that no one wants because you don’t do your share of the work. Pleading ignorance of the web is no longer acceptable for those designing for it. It is merely and indication of your lack of dedication to your craft. Don’t be that guy.
The web grew primarily through the spirit of those building on each others shared work (open source). Networks of self-motivated individuals figuring out what we can make this internet thing do. Self teaching is still the primary method of education among digital professionals. No one gets to stand off to the side refusing to learn and keeps a seat at the table. Everyone around you is learning as fast as they can. You need put on your big girl pants and step up.
You don’t need to become an expert developer. You DO need to understand the foundation of how the internet works. Understand HTML5, how data gets in and out of a web page, and how all of those computers talk to each other.
I’ll up the stakes just a bit more. If you have anything to do with strategy, marketing or user experience please for-the-love-of-Pete start participating in social networks. This is a major part of how brands are connecting with people. You need to understand how Facebook, Twitter, etc. fits into the collective experience. If you can’t empathize with those users, if you don’t understand it, how can you design for it?
Thanks for listening. Now go learn something.
End of rant.
photo credit: hebedesign via photopin cc