Comparison with architects of the built environment

No person who is not a great sculptor or painter can be an architect. If he is not a sculptor or painter, he can only be a builder – John Ruskin

I can be nothing but happy that a trend in the web industry is becoming clear, and that’s an increasing blending of design and development. Historically, there has been a dichotomous obsession with designers versus developers, front-end versus back-end, web hackers versus programmers ad nauseum. It finally seems that we are moving inexorably towards adopting the model of the building architect and I increasingly see conference talks and posts in realisation of the fact that, to do our jobs well, we all need to be as creative as we are logical and as functionally oriented as we are visual.

When I first started life as a web developer, a designer would deliver a design to me in a psd, or worse in a html page, with spacer gifs, tables and graphics freshly sliced up to build a site with. There was often conflict where developers would push designs back because they couldn’t be implemented and designers would bemoan their visually illiterate development team for their lack of flare.

Technology has changed much since; we’re seeing richer javascript UIs, the Flash-like evolution of the canvas and unlimited web typograhpy all making it clear we now need our web designers to understand CSS, HTML. Javascript, Server Performance and the limits of HTTP. Our web developers are increasingly required to understand interface design and human interaction. Our skills mix will always differ from person to person just as some architects work on Barrat Homes estates and some on iconic national treasures and it’s true that most of us are unlikely to work on Google’s search algorithm one day and Apples’s touch interface design the next. However, recognising that a better class of professionals will emerge from web design being a much more holistic discipline will greatly improve what our industry has to offer.

Menu