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Harnessing the Power

By: Sara Bacon

Here’s what’s cool. We’re experiencing a major shift in the world of web design. I have no way to measure or convince you of this other than expressing that my deep entrenchment in this world over the past eight years grants me permission to tell you that I can just feel it.

Computer science is no longer a mysterious and secretive art, practiced and understood only by tech wizards.  Evolving structures of business and the tendency toward self-sufficiency has encouraged everyone to take on some degree of knowledge in the world of computerdom.  Web technology and design have reached a certain point of cultural saturation where the language surrounding it is basically understood by more people (using it) than not. Why is that cool? Because this is the point where we can shift the focus from “how do I do this?” to “what am I doing and why?”

Follow me: when I was in grad school, I spent a lot of my time teaching Photoshop to students. I remember a specific experience that affected me deeply. I was trying to articulate the power of the selection tool and the concept of feathering to a student. When it became time for her to try it out all by herself, she began clunkily clicking around with the mouse. The mouse was backwards. She couldn’t access the seamless, intuitive flow between user and experience to achieve the intended result.

In a way, this experience left me with a deep sense of conflict and crisis. I saw the power of the tools at hand, but couldn’t wrap my head around being able to communicate that power without a basic, intuitive, working knowledge of the hardware necessary to access it.  I wondered if it would always feel like this.

But it’s starting to feel like something else.  People don’t scratch their heads at the mention of API’s.  Eyes no longer glaze over when the conversation references things like “user interface” or “user experience.”  I’ve sensed a shift in this disconnect between technology and user and I intuit that we’ve hit a breakpoint where the basic language of the web has become common language–we’ve finally adjusted to our sea-legs.

Words and acronyms such as blog, CMS, SEO are common language and despite the level of one’s knowledge of these things, at least we all know the general concepts being referenced.

At the same time this shift is occurring, design as a critical business asset is finally being recognized. Businesses are truly understanding the power of design.  It’s something more than just making things beautiful.  Design is as much a business tool as marketing or management, and it is just now beginning to be harnessed in it’s full potential.

It’s an exciting time my friends. Big things are on the horizon. Real shift. I’m grateful we’re here and I’m grateful to be a part of it.

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