A little Rant!

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by KnaveMan, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. KnaveMan macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2009
    I am looking for a new job. I've noticed an alarming amount of clients asking for designers to know all the graphics software plus web technologies including Flash and HTML/css. Why pay 2-3 salries when you can shove it all on one!

    What i don't understand is why our industry bases how valuable a designer is by how many software they know how to use! I know 110 people who own and know how to use photoshop. Does this make them all designers? I know even more people who own and know how to use pencils. Does this make them illustrators?!

    Shouldn't the work you produce be what determines the value of a designer? As long as you can get the final artwork in a format that a printer or programmer can use, it shouldn't matter!

    I'm just really frustrated with the fact that designers who pride themselves on being able to create original illustrations, have a great sense for layout and composition are taking a back seat to designers who use and re-use stock artwork and photos and claim they are experts at both web coding and layout at the same time. I'm sure they exist but are not nearly as common as most claim. How can you be a Paul Rand of layout, a Ronald Searle of illustration and a professional coder all at the same time?!

    I guess we live in an age where the Jack of all Trades is superior the Master of Something.
  2. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    How are you supposed to get the final artwork ready for a printer or programmer if you dont know how to use Photoshop or Flash? Thats like hiring a painter who doesnt know how to use a brush.

    People need to get over their fear of HTML/CSS, not only is it not hard to learn but nobody is going to be able to design a good functional website without knowledge of the limitations and abilities of CSS. You cant just make whatever the hell you want like you can in print, there are RULES to coding a website that must be followed in the initial design, websites all follow a similar design structure for a reason.

    There are some ridiculous ads for a graphic designer that has to know programming languages like PHP, that is unreasonable, but knowing HTML is not unreasonable.
  3. KnaveMan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2009
    i'm not saying they shouldn't know how to use photoshop. I'm just saying that a designer should not be valued based on the quantity of their skills but the quality of their skills.

    I work with programmers and coders all the time. In my experience i feel it's no more different then a designer working with a printer. You need to know how to set up your files, the formats, the colours used etc. Design is a collaborative process .

    HTML may be easy for you but you cannot say that it is easy. I could also say that drawing spiderman is easy but that's only relative to who you're talking to.
  4. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    I call it check box management. Judging quality is hard. Understanding things is hard. Checking off check boxes is easy. When searching for a worker it is easier to just get someone with all the check boxes filed in. Also, if someone challenges you or if the person doesn't work out you can deflect criticism of yourself by pointing to the filled in check boxes. Harder to do if you hire based on your own judgement. This is a symptom of large companies where no one is really responsible except the low level workers.
  5. decksnap macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    I think you are missing the bigger issue, which is that with such a saturated market, employers can require quality and 'quantity of skills', as you call it (and pay them fairly low on top of that). There is stiff competition out there for relatively very few jobs, so you will need to go ahead and add more to your skill set to compete.
  6. a cat *miaow* macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2007
    I can't understand why you don't understand. It's not a case of being a 'Jack of all Trades'.

    Online presence is absolutely integral to nearly any companies work they need to produce. If you're designing a campaign as a graphic designer you should be able to take that campaign into a affiliate banner for example or at least be able to create the visuals for a site addition/microsite (doing which you need to know what is possible and good practice when it comes to coding).

    The role of a graphic designer has changed, so it's no longer good enough to do what used to be done.
    Think back when design was created using paste up. There were graphic designers then who created their work using this method who would have been having a little rant why they couldn't get jobs because of these other people who were designing using new DTP software.

    The industry has moved on i'm afraid. I would say the things you mentioned should be part of any good graphic designers skill set.
    And these skills are not mutually exclusive – it's not a case of either getting a good print designer or someone who can do bits of anything poorly. It's very likely that however good you are there's someone out there who's just as good as you but can also make up some pretty decent web stuff too.
  7. KnaveMan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2009
    i see what you're saying. It does make a lot of sense and it's something i've come to realize. However I still feel that designers are still being stretched a little thin. Graphic design is not something you can master. There's always room for growth and originality.

    Thanks for your opinions.

    one other thing... for those of you that say designers should add some web technologies to their arsenal, what do you suggest? WYSIWYG's? HTML/CSS (by hand)? Flash?
  8. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    Thats what portfolios are for. Skills get you the interview, your portfolio gets you the job. Any company that hires a designer based just on their resume is crazy.

    You can learn enough HTML in a single semester to put together a website, its not some advanced coding language. Drawing, programming, and things like that are not the same as they take years to learn. Its not just easy for me, its easy for enough people for it to be a minor thing to learn in graphic design.

    Anyone that is involved in a trade that uses technology needs to keep up with the times or get left behind. Web design is a huge part of design now, its important to learn.
  9. Brien macrumors 68030


    Aug 11, 2008
    I, personally, learned to code by hand. I know Flash as well, but I hate it with a passion.

    A lot of people seem to use Dreamweaver, but WYSIWYG's always generate crappy code and when I have used them, I ended up going through and rewriting it anyway.
  10. a cat *miaow* macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2007
    What might not have come across before: I think web skills something a GOOD graphic designer should be able to do, there's plenty of.. hmm well i'll say designers... out there how are happy to knock up a couple of leaflets and flyers whatever. The reason I gave the advice I did was because I don't think that's you – I think you actually want to show what you can do.

    There's also a really important point where you should see yourself fitting into web development. There's two main roles –*the back end developer and the front end developer. Talk to most back end developers and they will have no intention, nor enjoy getting involved with any style issues.
    If you start building on your skills you should be focussed on front end: HTML and CSS (maybe bit of flash) that's where your talent will be. Any large/dynamic site should have someone who specialises in back end dev on the team, most employers should understand that.

    HTML and CSS are not to difficult, if you're not from that kind of background you'll probably struggle for a few weeks and then there will be a moment where you suddenly 'get it'. If your a complete beginner personally i'd use something like Dreamweaver - let it generate the code but look at the code and work out what it's doing.. then edit the code to get what you want. I don't know if that's how you work but I like to learn new stuff in that way – take apart something that works and then build upon it. What you want to be able to do ultimately is hand code but I think this is an easier way into doing it.

    As for Flash... personally I hate using it and having to do anything in it. I think you should be able to make simple things in it though –*such as ad banners or for example you wanted an animated header on a site. As for building a complete site... there's lots of people who think it shouldn't be done anyway, me being one of them. To learn how to animate simple stuff wouldn't take to long, and you should only need to learn a few basic actionscripts: to make buttons work / making links / stopping the timeline etc
  11. radiantm3 macrumors 65816


    Oct 16, 2005
    San Jose, CA
    The bottom line is times are changing. Kids these days are mastering photoshop, html, css, you name it at the age of 12. The same thing is happening now as it did years ago. When desktop publishing became big, all the old school type setters, etc were freaking out because graphic designers could do their job and more with a computer.

    When I stepped into this career path, I made a conscious decision to never stop learning. I've been in this field for almost 10 years (professionally) now and still have so much to learn. But that eagerness to learn new things keeps it fresh for me and challenges me. I think the biggest hurdle is changing the way you think about your career as a designer. Instead of being scared about change, learn to embrace it. Be excited about learning new things. Technology and mediums are changing quicker than ever and the only way to be successful long term is to keep up.

    Not everyone will agree with me, but being a "graphic designer" for the web just doesn't cut it anymore. A truly skilled web designer not only has good design principles, but also knows html and css like the back of his/her hand. And the even more valuable designers are able to write javascript and even do some programming. HTML and CSS isn't hard. Sure there are a few hurdles to get over, but it mostly takes a lot of time and practice. But at the same time, you need to be motivated to learn and enjoy the process. You can't force yourself to do it.

    The day I stopped convincing myself that html/css knowledge wasn't important for a designer was the day my career path skyrocketed forward. By far, one of the best decisions I've made in my life. I don't care what people say about print. Yes, it's a beautiful and tactile medium, but it IS dying. People can be in denial all they want. If they don't want to learn something new, they will have a hard time finding work in the future.

    So my advice is, don't get discouraged by change. Embrace it and enjoy learning all you can. The best part is it doesn't cost you a cent. All the resources you could ever want or need is available freely on the web. :)
  12. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    I think you have received a lot of good responses in this thread. The following line made me think a bit. In some ways it illustrates the fundamental changes that working in interactive has made to our field:

    The concept of "skinning" design onto someone else's "program" leaves designer's in a quite weak position -- excluding us from digging into more procedural and conceptual roles. In interactive work the "final artwork" is a working application. The deliverables you are describing are a small part of the total design process.

    One of the reasons I moved away from print and started designing interactive almost 15 years ago was because it was a more open creative space. In a typical print project a client would say "I want a 8 page color brochure by xxx. The writer will send you some text". When I moved into interactive, the client would say "We need a corporate website. We have no idea how to do this. Will you work with us to figure out the best way for our company to communicate via this new and strange medium? (or something like that).

    I found that working in interactive gave me more access to the total design process -- something that I would not be willing to relinquish today. The roles are more defined today (information architect, expereince designer, interface designer, etc.) but I often take on projects that allow me to work within in these various roles.

    In my opinion, one does not need to move into development roles to work in interactive... there are plenty of design problems to be solved. They are, however, different from the types of problems that print designers are familiar with and many print designers looking to move interactive fail because they approach design problems from a static mindset. Where print designers are compositors, an interactive designer has to think more like a choreographer.

    Now, I have to admit that I am one of those designer/developers. I was trained as a designer, but have found to truly solve design problems in this medium I needed to start writing algorithms. It has taken me about 10 years, but I am now comfortable as a programmer AND a designer. I do different types of work depending on the job and the budget. I have found that I am not alone, there is a whole generation of designers who see code as a creative medium.

    So, in that way it is not about being a "jack of all trades, master of none" it is simply seeing programming as a technical process no different than the intricacies of print production...
  13. KnaveMan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2009
  14. MagicWok macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2006
    It is also dependant on the job.

    Small/Medium companies, I create the websites myself.

    For the larger companies I work for, I work alongside a developer/programmer, and we have a great relationship - and it really does show in the final product.

    Clients are always sceptical when we try to say why employing two, instead of one, for a job is worth-while, but they realise it in the final outcome. The differences in the sites I create by myself, and when done in tandem, I can also tell the difference visually and in-terms of the user experience.

    Knowing CSS/HTML/Flash isn't something a designer - especially freelance ones - haven't had to have in their skill set until relatively recently. And there is still room for some to concentrate solely on print, or web-based design. Though times move on, and you have to adjust. Just as we moved on from forming blocks for print, to dtp programs - whilst it may not be as extreme, it's something you have to accept.
  15. tobefirst macrumors 68040


    Jan 24, 2005
    St. Louis, MO
    Tangentially related... (or at least, I think so)

    The "quality of the quantity" is not to be understated. My position, when I started five years ago, was not a new position. As such, I've had to update documents that the person in my position before me created.

    Setting the aesthetics aside, which can be somewhat subjective, these documents are a trainwreck. Five text boxes where one would do. Multiple returns (of all different size points) where leading or "space after" would have worked better. Multiple tabs where a single one, or a hanging indent, would have worked. Text laid out in Photoshop and then imported into InDesign. I usually end up redoing all of my predecessor's projects.

    Technical proficiency does have value. (I know that you're not saying it didn't. I just felt like whining.) :)

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