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Mar 06, 2004 8:44 pm re: re: re: re: Define: Web Designer
Mark Wilson
Interesting analogies used here... I trained as an architect before specialising in interactive design 14 years ago (kiosks > CDROM > internet). Over that time, I've hired maybe 100 'designers'.

The issue as I see it not as cur and dried as it's being made out to be - much depends on the individual involved. However, as a principle, architecture still sets a good model for our industry. People hire an architect to *design* a building, and while the architect's role is certainly a design role, they involve the skills of many others, from structural engineers to lighting experts to get the perfect building. It's perhaps arrogant of an interactive designer to believe that they are capable of everything - I've certainly never come across one that was!

In the case of a great architect, they have an *appreciation* of the skills of others required to make an excellent building, but (even though their skills are incredibly overlapped these days) they do not study to become structural engineers (for example). The time they spent doing this would be time away from their core discipline - one which already demands lots of time and effort to be good at. Some have more of a feel for it than others, and those that do typically create buildings in which structure plays a visible role. Likewise HTML skills - there are no buildings without structure, and no sites without HTML (don't get me started on Flash-only sites). But ultimately, the design solution is influenced by the interests and design principles of the designer themselves. I've seen incredibly beautiful work done by designers who could not write a single line of HTML, and shocking work by those who could write it fluently. The same is true, of course, the other way around.

The truth is, surely, that a web designer can be many things. Some will have excellent HTML knowledge (and all the other back-end technologies that have an effect on front-end experience), others will have none. In either case, and all the other steps in-between, they can still be excellent designers.


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