When I interview a potential graphic designer, one of the most important questions I ask is “In an ideal world, what design projects would you work on?” Inevitably, they’ll pick one that is their favorite, be it print design, web design, or identity/branding design. So, I let them work on the projects that they enjoy most because I am a true believer in specialization.
I believe in specialization for several reasons, one of those being people are happier when they work on the things they like and are good at. I’ve met designers who love print design because they have control over the end result, and thus dislike designing for the Web. And I’ve met others who can let go of full control and enjoy the interactive aspect of the Web.
I also like specialization because it is extremely difficult to find people who excel at several disciplines. Many graphic designers these days will offer print, web, and identity/branding design, but most likely, they’ll excel at only one of those.
One of the worst muddling of disciplines is when web programmers design or designers code. Most of us can easily identify a web site “designed” by a web developer: they aren’t visually pleasing and don’t exude professionalism. But it’s a bit tougher to know what you are getting when a designer codes.
Although some designers can manage HTML/XHTML/CSS coding, they typically aren’t good at backend programming that involves databases, programming languages such as PHP or .NET, or shopping carts. They lack the in-depth experience. And, most importantly, they don’t enjoy doing it.
That is precisely why I don’t make my designers code like many traditional agencies do. And I definitely don’t allow my programmers to design. They simply don’t speak the “design language.” A programmer will not understand what on earth you meant when you said “I’d like to add more life to this design mockup.”
To create a high quality web site, you need a team of people in which various members specialize in their disciplines – designers, developers, search engine marketers, copywriters, etc. You’d be hard pressed to find one individual who is great at all 4 or more.