At some point, I came up with the idea that reading 10 articles on one topic was a good idea. Well, I only made it to 7. But these 7 articles, on LESS and 404 pages, were very helpful for me so I’m still glad I read them.
Much of the debate, which I won’t go into now, had to do with whether or not this type of UX person exists – some said this person is a mythical “unicorn” and the poster would be better off looking for UX designers who had a better grasp of psychology (which is also true). My question, and one of my arguments against this UX People Must Code, is that it does not specify the degree to which a (web-based) UX specialist should understand code. (And really, what they’re specifically talking about is HTML/CSS, not Java or .NET.)
I was curious: how much should a UX person learn about HTML/CSS and how fast can they do it? Well, in my own experience, I’ve found that spending a dedicated but serious amount of time learning something difficult (Russian, OpenFrameworks, driving) will not likely get you to mastery, but it will get you somewhere. I wondered if a UX designer dedicated, say, a month of time learning about HTML/CSS would that get them “far enough”?
I typed into my trusty Google search box “learn HTML in 30 days”…and voila! I came across a great website called TutsPlus.com. This site offers tutorials on all kinds of creative and design related topics, included web design and development. Web Development is actually on a sub-site, called webdesign.tutsplus.com. Turns out someone has already created a 30 day tutorial to learn HTML and CSS. And it’s FREE!
Checking it out, and skipping ahead, I was pretty impressed by this tutorial. I like movies and I love learning via video. The tutorial eventually has the pupil try to skin and recreate a website from a PS template. I became inspired to try something similar. Except I didn’t use a template. I used a page from a real website. It was an Etsy tutorial on how to sew a skirt. (I did make my own skirt, eventually, too.)
I’m still working on it, but I’m over halfway finished. The sidebar is a little bit tricky, so I’m taking a break. I’m using the 960.gs grid in 16-columns, and a few HTML5 tags. There’s not much need for CSS3 yet, but I think some of the buttons will need some styling for gradients and corners. It’s been fun, but I’m not sure I’d want to do it everyday. (Maybe, though…if I had more practice.)
The funny part, is that the part of my brain that is working hard to format an HTML page and troubleshoot what could be going wrong with the CSS does not feel like the same part of my brain that comes up with UX inspirations and designs, and makes the associations between how a person would use a system with what the system offers. More on the Coding Designer later. For now, here’s a screenshot of my sample Etsy project and the real Etsy webpage. There’s still quite a lot of tweaking left to do, but you can see how it’s coming together.
Academia vs. Web design: The Journal on New Media and Society looks for papers on mobile communication and developing communities. Meanwhile, A List Apart posts an article on improving web design education.
“We are seeking papers for a special edition of the journal New Media & Society focusing on mobile communication and media, and its impact on the developing world. We are interested in papers that empirically describe the use of mobile practices as well as the convergence of mobile and other platforms in the developing world (e.g. Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe or other locations in the “global south”). Successful papers will examine the integration and use of mobile communication technology and its implications (both positive and negative) in individuals’ lives. We are seeking papers that investigate the global as well as the local appropriations of mobile media use and its relationship to social change and/or development…”
Hrmm… Could this be yet another good reason why the myriad of professions in the “user experience design” field need more original research? Interestingly enough, while I pondered that thougth, I came across A List Apart’s post on elevating web design in academia. The article listed 3 tips for getting involved:
Here are three things you can do today to make a difference in web education:
• connect with a university,
• sponsor an educator, and
• volunteer your time.
I do like the idea of getting professionals more involved in education, but I feel that parts of the article are confusing the business model of web design companies with the academic model of universities. Companies are for-profit entities that ultimately need to make money. Universities are non-profit organizations that ultimately strive to advance knowledge. The two have motivations that can be, and apparently are for the web design industry, mutually exclusive. Their drivers are completely different and require different credentials to advance their needs. Business needs skill. Academia needs knowledge and degrees. It’s not so simple to simply ask universities to give up the need to hire people with graduate degrees. Universities are more established than web design, so why is it that universities are broken? Why not ask businesses to hire people who are “unqualified”, and then spend time training them to be productive in the context of their business? Why isn’t it that web design businesses should change, or at least change their expectations on who they should expect to hire?