I used to be a web designer. I knew how to hard code, and I scoffed at design applications like Dreamweaver and FrontPage (okay, so it’s appropriate to scoff at FrontPage). They would do hideous things to the code, and I’d be above it all, pulling out a simple html editor that wouldn’t add crap to the back. After all, the beauty of a web page is both what’s on the screen and the code behind it. I knew my CSS, and I could rip apart pages with the best of them. My feeling about design is pretty clear, and whenever I’d get myself tied up in knots, I’d come back to KISS the basics: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
The new world brings new changes. I find that, to my chagrin, my coding skills have grown rusty and my CSS mostly basic. And it’s not because I’ve lost my love for design; instead, I’ve found it smarter to rely on those who do it better than I do it so that I can focus on the content. The words. The images. The thoughts and connecting the dots. I can’t remember the last time I designed a site, but I do remember lamenting about rusty skills on twitter. I also remember Cole Camplese replying and asking me why I would even bother? Install a blogging platform like wordpress or typepad, choose a pre-existing skin and, with a couple of clicks of the mouse, I’m done designing and can get right to the heart of the matter: the content. I realized at that moment that this is, indeed, the new reality.
The more I work in social media, the more I realize I want everything at my fingertips. Like good design, I want my focus to be on the content, not having to jump from site to site. Lately we’ve been working on the Connect tab of the TLT Symposium site, trying to aggregate our #psutlt feeds. While widgets are fine, this is the real stuff I’d like to see us be able to do, unlimited by the parameters of a blogging platform. While we may not be able to do it yet, I think we continue to move closer to this kind of “I don’t have to code it; it just works” user interaction, perhaps made more immediate because of our fanboy/grrl love of macs and the iPhone. But again, I say this has become design in the new world. Let me play, and get out of the way.