You don’t necessarily need to be a master of Flash, Silverlight or even HTML to be considered a ‘Web’ or ‘Interactive’ designer…yet. But I’ve often speculated that those days are coming to a close. I wonder how much longer they will last?
Designers will often say it’s not about the tools, and it’s not—but it is about craft and many of the most successful designers realize that to truly master their craft they must have an understanding of the underlying technology and principles that will ultimately bring their vision to life. We see this clearly in the Web and in design with folks like Jeremy Keith and Joshua Davis and companies like 37 Signals but if you spend a bit of time on the IXDA discussion list or any of the professional organizations or conferences that cater to interactive design it seems as if a majority of designers are doing everything they can to ensure they don’t need get out of their comfort zone of wireframes, Photoshop comps and design artifacts that no one really bothers to look at.
History is littered with far too many examples of industries and trends that happened so quickly that entire disciplines were rendered economically worthless almost over night.
One company that painfully survived this transition was George Lucas’ special effects house Industrial Light & Magic. This transition is discussed briefly today on IO9.com in The Genesis Effect, the Liquid Metal Terminator, Davy Jones and Jurassic Park’s dinos: How ILM transformed movies, and it’s worth a read to understand how challenging the transition from analog to digital modeling was.
In the world of devices, apps and HTML 5 I’m just wondering how long some of these archaic practices are going to hold out and I’m also wondering if higher education programs are truly preparing designers for entering a world where understanding the difference between managed and unmanaged code or what a MVC framework is might not be such a bad thing to know—even as a designer.