It’s a fairly simple proposition, but one I constantly refer back to.
Things change, all the time, some for the better and some for the worse. The digital environment is no different, specifically the design aspect. Since the adoption of Ethan Marcotte's responsive design article in 2010 on A List Apart, the very nature of the design and how we as designers approach it, has changed. If you understand the implications of responsive design you understand the necessity to adapt.
Design has never been a passive career choice, fashions change, technology plays a major influence in what is achievable and deliverable, principles and processes evolve, new disciplines are created, browser issues are fixed and more are created, more and more devices, screen resolutions, @media device and screen size detection … the list is endless. But the biggest change is based on a fluid / responsive web and how to provide a clear approach to how you will see your information appear on any given device / screen size and then how to translate how this would visually change from device A to device B.
Although I still talk, sketch, wireframe and create Photoshop mock ups through to fully annotated build documents, I find that actually building a prototype that someone can use, test & break is the best way to get a real indication of what the end user experiences.
Prototyping allows for transitions, hover states, interactive elements to be understood. Bespoke media queries created, based on the content flow, rather than the device size and adaptive content creation. It creates a team experience always available for review, that is inclusive of the design process preventing the inevitable 'Big Reveal' / 'Ta Da' moment.
Design is development and vice versa, you need to at the very least have a good working knowledge of HTML / CSS / JS in order for you to be able to work collaboratively with developers, management and stakeholders. Being able to make something in its native environment provides a massive advantage in knowing the possible limitations of the technology and how it is going to be used. Design is more than colour, images, scale, typography & layout. Interactive design is more than a fixed width medium. Marketing is more than a sales pitch. Customer service is more than an email address or prerecorded automated call center. Social media isn’t a status update. Everything has to be taken in context, and content (in harmony with the user) is still king. All these new methods and tools are still a means to an end. Communication. Whether this be Business to Business or Business to Consumer the end result is the same; to communicate clearly, and, deliver the objective as easily and efficiently as possible whilst understanding any constraints of the medium / technology. After all, what user wants a 100Mb all singing and dancing site on a mobile if their monthly data allowance is 100Mb?.
You can't dictate how your content will be consumed, but you have to make sure that it is available to be consumed in a way that won't negatively impact the user.
As the digital environment continues to change and develop, so does the role of design. I am excited about where it is heading, what I know now, and how this will change in the months and years ahead.