I started reading the book all about Jony Ive this week. Its a very good book and one that I have wanted to read for a while. I find the design process really interesting and to have a UK designer impact the world in the way Jony has and continues to do is amazing.
From the first chapter one thing that I have taken from it is that designers are taught from day 1 to learn how to work with different tools and materials. Be it a drill or sewing machine, wood or plastic. They are taught to know and understand what components are required to build the desired product.
Now this got me thinking, In development we are trained to use a single architecture master it and learn it until we retire. Be this LAMP, .NET Rails etc. At university the stack was Java and all things Oracle. The mention of PHP in this was frowned upon as Java was the required solution.
As I have progressed my career I think this ethos has remained the same, I opted to become a LAMP developer and any solution I look at has to be PHP and MySQL based for blogs I use wordpress, E-Commerce its Magento CMS its Drupal. For a company I can see that having a single stack solution makes sense. You only ever need to hire and maintain a certain discipline of developer higher levels of skill are easier to come by etc.
Yet when you look at the process Jony went through at university and how design in general works ( Non web related ) Its about choosing the best raw components for the product. So how does this differ from what we as developers are doing. A designer needs to know the features of each component e.g. wood to plastic to metal to silk just as we need to know the syntax and constructs for a language. As designers I think we need to have a raw material that we can always fall back on but we should be looking at everything else that is out there so that we can make better end products for the future.
Looking back to the example I gave earlier about blogs. WordPress is and will remain a stable and extendable blogging platform but there are more Ghost.org built in JS offers more for pure blogging than wordpress is at the moment.
If anything the point of this post is that we are just like designers, We design by code. And just like designers our products can be seen and touched by the masses in the form of applications.