Ninth – the designer’s limits of knowledge

As a student of history, reader of books about the Republic of Letters, it is a serious change of gears to read about “a Twitterstorm of controversy,” which moved to one of the top designers’ blog that I read in Michael Tuck’s article Should Web Designers Know HTML and CSS?. Back in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, and also in these days, historians quarrel over ideas that touch the very core of their own profession through books of hundreds of pages, or at least scholarly articles that also pass the extent of a tweet line grown into a blog posting. How much can one actually expand on the simple yes or no question whether a web designer needs to know coding or not. As the quotes in the article show, those who argued that it was a reasonable expectation for a web designer to be familiar, and not “a ninja of” HTML and CSS coding, have a holistic approach to the world of the internet. The more horizontal knowledge one has, the better expert and also team player can become. For the advocates of coding-knowledge free web designership, the real professional value is in the depth of knowledge and experience one demonstrates in his or her profession. Two different approaches that argue along completely different axises. Were I not writing a blog post, I could have gone into further length and depth about the source of the different approaches. These two views about the necessary knowledge to become a good professional in web design, in my opinion, are present in almost any other profession. The question, whether, for a good professional what is the necessary minimum of knowledge in the closest field, with which the cooperation is vital to create good products, is present for everyone who works in a very broadly branched and complex business. In my view, to be a good professional one needs to be familiar with the whole business well. To be good in the small picture one needs to know the big picture to a certain extent as well.

Interestingly, there was no one argument against the requirement of knowing HTML or and CSS for web designers stating that too much coding kills artistic inspiration, which in my mind would be, though an exaggerated, but really content-focused argument. To become a designer involves to think as a designer, to hold the outlook the most important thing about the product. Not knowing coding can jeopardize the finalization of a web site: it will look good but not work, and hence, render the original design unnecessary. Alternatively, the design will have to be remade, which leads to the same end result mentioned above. To be a good leader of a project that involves the work of different experts, one must know some basics about all, how the different fields come together and most importantly, how the different professionals think and work separately and with each other, view their and the related fields. Again, it is vital in the case of designing and coding a web site as well as in any other businesses. The citizens of the Republic of Letters thought, they need to exchange knowledge in order to be better versed thinkers, while they also need to emerge themselves in the literature of their restricted expertise.

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