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Weblog of Freelance Designer Steven Clark

2/4/2005

Designers and Coders

Filed under: — 4:28 pm

Reading the Web Standards Group daily email digest the other day I was knocked over by a couple of simple questions from someone I consider far more knowledgable than myself at the whole web standards thing, whether that was just a biased impression I’d grown for no reason isn’t really clear. But this guy does know his stuff. The questions were - what are use cases?, and what is information architecture?

This is important because it defines where I see coders and designers parting ways. In fact web development covers a wide range of actual jobs and these are just 2 blurry lines that often shift back and forth. Its important because here is someone who is a great coder, he knows the specs backwards, is a great troubleshooter and problem solver and would be a fantastic team asset. But what does the designer do? Well maybe I should call him an information architect or at least say that information architect is a subset of the designer role. The designer is less interested in the nuances of actual code and doesn’t design within his capabilities. They will take all of the information and research and design the most effective user interface for the situation, and they are also problem solvers but of a different type.

I could ramble on about this no end and probably not everyone will agree with how I draw my blurry lines here. In Japan the web development project is clearly defined into a great many actual jobs. Myself, like a lot of people who do this, I’m a fence sitter in that I can code a bit but I’m primarily interested in design. I’d like to be the one doing the report, the investigation, the research into effectively achieving the organisational goals and objectives. I enjoy investigating the underlying information architecture to reveal a user centric view of the information and how it should relate.

So although they’re different they’re closely related by necessity in small business at least. And I only mention it as I was totally shocked someone I see as very adept in his field had not even heard of some very basic software engineering principles. It made me feel a little bit good to know that some of the things I say do actually make sense. My job after all is to make a successful site that gets used and makes money. Just a tad more to it than perfect code…

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