Design in Tech Report 2017

A must-read zeitgeist if you work in tech, no matter your role.

Design trends revolutionizing the entrepreneurial and corporate ecosystems in tech. Related M&A activity, new patterns in creativity × business, and the rise of computational design.

View the full video + slides and an executive summary on LinkedIn of the presentation led by my colleague John Maeda, Automattic’s Global Head, Computational Design and Inclusion.

Key takeaway: “Design isn’t just about beauty; it’s about market relevance and meaningful results.”

 

A Journey of Theme Craftsmanship

My name is Lance, and I love themes.

What was my standard opening line for many years when starting a WordCamp talk is still true today. “My name is Lance, and I still love themes.”

I’d like to tell you the story of my journey of theme craftsmanship—the ups, the downs, the unexpected results—and how I’ve now become an apprentice again in a new field.

It’s been a journey of adventure and learning where my skills have expanded beyond anything I’d expected—not just the technical path from web designer and developer to “front-end expert” and WordPress themer—but also writing, speaking, and leading. And more.

It’s September 2015 and I’m now back in an apprenticeship role. Working hard on finding my craft: tools, skills, patterns, workflow, and process. Discovering myself, my passion, my community, and opportunities to learn.

Continue reading “A Journey of Theme Craftsmanship”

Software Technical Writing Done as a Career: What Next?

Software developer—and former technical writer—Jim Grey gives advice to technical writers looking to stay in software as a focus on user experience (UX) replaces the need for technical writers.

Software technical writing is a dying career (but here’s what writers can do to stay in the software game) | Stories from the Software Salt Mines.

…the writing is on the wall. If you’re not finding fewer technical writing job openings yet, you will soon. Fortunately, your skills transfer to other jobs in software development organizations. You will need to build some new skills for many of these jobs, but you might be able to land that first new job without them and build them as you work.

New roles suggested include testing and quality assurance, product management, and UX/design.

…I think this trend toward effective UX is better for the user, and gives writers good paths for growth.

I love these tips and specific role descriptions. I’d say this advice applies to anyone who loves writing and documentation and wants to move into product design and development.

(Technical side notes: I found this post via the WordPress.com Reader’s suggested blogs to follow. I then posted it to this site using the Press This function in WordPress, called “WordPress Post” under Advanced Settings in the new WordPress.com interface. Screenshot example.)

Freelancing as a Web Professional

I’ve been asked a lot recently about freelancing and how it works. My personal experience has been amazing! But the truth is that it’s not for everyone. If you are considering going solo, here is some recommended reading for you.

First, review the recently-released results of the 2008 A List Apart Survey. The responses and accompanying analysis will give you insight into what web professionals charge, what their job titles are, how many hours a week they work, and much, much more. Included are many statistics regarding freelance workers and how their habits and experiences compare with those of more traditional web workers.

On getting paid and how much to charge:

These web professionals address freelancing from both sides—moving from a traditional workplace to freelancing and also giving it up to go back to working for a company.

Since freelancing for me is about doing what you love, I’d like to include two short, inspirational pieces:

And finally, as recommended listening, listen to the panel conversation Jeffrey Zeldman moderated as this year’s SXSW Interactive conference: “From Freelance to Agency: Start Small, Stay Small”.

You Are What You Make

I’ve always done kind of weird, strange things, and that’s what I get hired to do: weird, strange things. The type of work you make is the type of work people will hire you to do.

Joshua Davis inspires me, not because he is a world-class Flash artist that creates complex, 120,000-layer files in Illustrator in five minutes1, but because he isn’t afraid to be himself. In fact he’s been extremely successful at creating art and websites that are as individual as he is.

One of my goals for 2009 is to find a balance in my work as a web designer/developer with what I find important and valuable in life. If I produce work that isn’t fulfilling, or if I feel like I’m not working towards doing stuff that matters, it isn’t because I’m doomed to serve a particular client or style—but because of the fact that what I’ve done is what people hire me for.

Maybe it’s time to make something a little bit different?

1 Read about Joshua’s work at Apple Pro Profiles: Joshua Davis.

Be An Employable Web Designer

In The Employable Web Designer, Andy Rutledge gives his take on how you can be ready for a real web design job coming out of college.

Now more than ever, it is a student’s responsibility to craft his or her own career preparedness in addition to, even in spite of, the plans and curricula defined by schools. This fact is especially true for aspiring Web designers, for every indication is that most higher education institutions don’t have the first clue about the interactive professions or how to prepare future professionals.

As a web craftsman, I think even seasoned web designers could take a look at this list of skills and traits that make a truly employable web professional. Pay close attention to the “Technology and Web Craft Skills” section since those items require constant reading, learning, and exploration.

I hope that this list and my suggestions help aspiring web designers to better craft their own preparedness and, if necessary, adjust their degree plans toward a more effective and responsible result.

Andy’s list is not only a great resource for aspiring web designers and developers, but I see it serving as a standard for all web professionals to live up to.

(Also, see my take on preparing for a career in web design, Learning Web Design, from 2006.)