Not quite this kind of Renaissance Man but closeSo, a couple of weeks ago i attended ‘Future of web design’ in London. A fantastic 3 day event filled with fantastic talks and networking sessions. Due to the distance and the associated costs for my current employer we split the 2 day conference (the first day was workshops) between 3 members of our team; i attended the 1st day.

I enjoyed every one of the talks i attended even though some were not directly related to my career path such as ‘Let jQuery Rock Your World’ by the very talented Matt Gifford.

Side note;
during Matt’s talk, i became his 1,000th follower, i was offered something from his pockets, I declined.

And this leads me on nicely to the purpose of this post; saying this talk was not directly related to my career path is the wrong way to look at things. I feel strongly that if working in an industry like the Internet (among others) you shouldn’t think or yourself as a designer or a developer or digital marketer, you should have a more cross discipline knowledge base but possess a Gold star in a particular facet of that knowledge. To use an American University phrase; you should have a career ‘major’ with many, many minors.

Now, I am not saying that you, the developer, should head off for 4 years at Art College and become the next Jonny Ive. But what i am saying is don’t live in your respective disciplines silo. Head out into the light, meet up with Designers, UX guys, marketers, SEO ninjas and (if you have the time to search middle earth) back end devs. Head along to conferences and attend talks that are somewhat out of your comfort zone. Like with the JQuery talk mentioned at the top of this post, I learned something, nothing about implementing JQuery I can assure you, but I did learn about some of the things you can and cannot (or more accurately; should and should not) do with the tool. These learning’s will stop me adding in silly and badly thought out suggestions for functionality in my next prototype or wireframe.

It also allows you to learn the pain points that different Web Development disciplines in suffer from. This was touched on in the closing Keynote from Remy Sharp entitled “Dr Weblove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Photoshop and Love Designers”. Remy’s entire talk focused on Designers and Developers getting together hugging and generally sharing the experience as opposed to chucking pretty PSD’s over the wall into the ‘dev camp’ and expecting them to implement. Remy highlighted the perfect example for the point I am trying to make, A designer creates a beautiful, likable, PSD of how the clients new website is going to look, she finishes, pops it in a folder on the network and leaves, job done. The following week, the designer opens the folder, opens the PSD and realises that there are 4 buttons on the page with no ‘hover states’ or ‘onClick states’ so either the designer needs to come back and do more work or the dev breaks open the Crayolas and creates his interpretation of what the button should look like.

Now, some could argue that it is the designers problem as they should have thought of that, some would argue that it should have been in the brief and some would argue that we shouldn’t have hover states (for the purposes of this post I am going to ignore the later). But what I am trying to say is that it’s none of the above. No one is at fault, if the designers and developers in this scenario had either went to a conference or read a few articles around each others discipline and/or had a few beers together at the start of the project the problem would not have been fixed, but the size of the problem could have been reduced.

What i am trying to say is, inevitably problems and mistakes are going to happen in projects but if all teams have a rough understanding of what the others do, projects run smoother.

So, let’s get drunk together and make the internet more awesome!

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