I reject the notion that the builders of the Web spin around into two separate spheres: the elegant but finicky Designer versus the rigid but brilliant engineer. Nope. I’m resolved to be both because I love both, and I don’t embrace the philosophy that they need to be separated […]
I am, in short, a product of the Web. I am a mashup. I strive for the intuitive and the integrated. One day I might be a writer, the next a developer, but it’s all part of a whole, a technified continuum that has been my dream and my calling for more than a decade.
Of course, being an account planner–researcher–art director–typographer–copywriter–UX person, I can fully relate to this.
Like I said several months prior, the individual elements of an innovation actually matters less than the connection between them. This is because I believe that that the sparks and insights cannot be generated in the ‘two separate spheres’ of the Developer or the Designer. It’s in the overlap.
Thus, to built user experiences that are truly mean but also human, we need what I call ‘Alchemists.’ This applies to every field of knowledge, but in UX, Alchemists are individuals who knew enough about Ethnography, Usability, Design and Programming—and also enough about Baseball, Viniculture, the art of writing great Emails, and all sorts of human endeavors—that, by their diversity of knowledge, are able to engineer products with sound logic (Fitts’ Law et al.), beautiful architecture (code) and social instinctiveness (graceful gestures.)
On diversity of interest: most people think that geeks and designers are just interested in, well, geekery and design. This notion is partly true. Most geeks are in tune with their gadgetry, and most designer worships [insert a mid-century designer/architect/typographer here.] But we need to diversify. If geeks and designers are to engineer a user experience, they, too, must immerse themselves in things that other human beings do. The more they know, the better they can draw connections between the user and the computer. It helps when the ‘things’ are closely interrelated, of course—my examples above are Ethnography, Usability, Design and Programming—but it needn’t be that way. In diversification, anything helps.
The point is twofold, if we are to succeed:
- We creators need to be also men and women of culture.
- We need to understand the intimate connection between design, sociology and development.
One surefire way of achieving this is by being a Designer–Developer hybrid—Mrs. Gardner is one—and collaborating with people who aren’t just-Designer or just-Developer, but are hybrids themselves.
The more diverse you are, the more able you are at the one thing you do. Being a mashup and alchemist is the way of the future.