Happy end of February!
This past weekend I got to see the Eels in concert up in Columbus. Saw a good concert with a good friend, and they even played one of my all-time favorite songs – My Beloved Monster. Which got me thinking about doodle monsters (so I doodled), and real-life monsters. Monsters can be furry, or scary, or have three heads. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the three-headed monster that is the interwebs.
As a print designer, my experience with web is still growing (mainly building this site, and professionally managing content & updating work-related websites on Drupal and WordPress). But I do know one thing: When Adobe launched Muse a little more than a year ago, I was excited and then immediately let down.
My problem with Adobe Muse is this: all it does is perpetuate print design standards in a web world, where they aren’t necessary. Muse is literally telling us “pay no attention to the code behind the curtain”. I have a belief that as designers, its our job to understand how things work, then we take that knowledge and apply it to our projects. Why would Adobe want to pacify us? Keeping us in a print mentality is dangerous, and encourages the idea that web is big and scary and impossible to learn. But it’s not, it’s the exact opposite. I love working within perimeters and rules, and that’s exactly what web is. We should want to learn. We shouldn’t want to live on false hope just to make our lives easier. Muse is an internet band-aid for designers, and band-aids always get super mega gross and fall off, even the super cool Batman band-aids.
Web is like learning a totally different language, but it’s not impossible to bridge the gap. HTML & CSS open up entire universes. They challenge your imagination, and make you think hard. While there is no user interface, short cut, or plug-in in the world that will help you remember how you got that code working at 3am the night before, there are moments of epiphany and brilliance that can only come from understanding the native tongue. Learning it fluently is a challenge, but not the impossible mountain I had made it out to be when I graduated college.
We shouldn’t be seeing it as a dreaded inevitability. It’s a way of creating awesome things in different ways. Understanding how the web, browsers and search engines work together is extremely important, even if you personally never build a single site. You might have to work with a developer one day, either via a freelance project or as a design studio cubicle-comrade, and understanding the language is invaluable, saves time and avoids horribly messy miscommunications. Plus, in smaller companies design and website management (or even marketing and web management–or design, marketing and web management, which is what I do for a local non-profit) are being rolled into one. So whereas the website might already exist, it could be as easy as updating your old LiveJournal (like a simple WordPress CMS) or it could be a little more complicated. Understanding CMS limits are also very important, because they are not all created equally.
I’ve taught myself enough (with guidance from friends) to tide me over for now, but I’m going to start messing with my site again in my free time (of which I have, but I schedule horribly: there’s this show on Netflix called the West Wing, perhaps you’ve heard of it?). I don’t know how long the redesign will take me, or what I want it to look like, but I know I want it to be more awesome. It want it to be all of the awesomes. And while I doubt that I’ll ever be worthy enough to upgrade myself to “web designer/front end developer” and know my brain isn’t quite suited for the role of “backend developer”, its no excuse to not be competent enough to interact with a real one when I need to.
-Hearts and farts, Katie
I’ve had this entire post sitting on my desktop as a stickynote (virtual, not post-it) for quite awhile. I’ve noticed that’s become a habit of mine – writing fully fleshed-out blog entries and then never posting them. I know, totally silly. I am an internet-wussy.
For more well-known opinionated opinions, the uber-talented Jessica Hische spilled her brain recently about web design and as always, good things came out.