The Battle Of

The technical guys blame the marketing for over-committing and the marketing ones believe that technical guys just don’t deliver! Have you faced similar conflict situations at your work place? How do you get the marketing guy to commit something which is feasible and how do you get the technical guy to deliver what the marketing guy has promised? Before you have learnt the art to keep these two from murdering each other, get prepared to deal with another emerging breed.


The age old battle between marketing and technical somehow has given way to an emerging, overpowering, a-nightmare-for-all-managers battle. It is the one between the designers and engineers ie the technical guys.

Today’s newspapers predict:
WHAT’S OUT: MARKETING VS TECHNICAL
WHAT’S IN: TECHNICAL VS DESIGNER

Let me give you an example by this story.

The Conflict
Throughout history, Artsy types and techy types have always been in conflict. ‘Right Brain’ and ‘Left Brain’ dominance of the respective professions most probably causes this.

I am sure there was conflict even when the wheel was designed "Make it perfectly round to reduce friction," said the wheel technician.

"No, perfectly round is so boring and generic," argued the wheel designer.

Well in today’s modern age, the internet has created one of the most glaring and continuous confrontations between the two. Here is a recent conversation overheard between a web designer and an engineer.

Hi, I don’t think we’ve met yet. I’m the designer. I just started and I have a bit of a technical question.


That’s what I am here for. What’s the problem?


Well, I was wondering how you set the font in HTML? How do I make sure that our audience gets their text in Myriad MM light norm 12 pt?


Oh that’s an easy one!


Great! What is it?


You can’t. Cheers!


That doesn’t make any sense.


Sure it does. You see, HTML is designed to work on all computers and all displays. You don’t know what fonts people are going to have installed on their machines or even if they have monitors. They may be visually impaired, you know. So trying to set the font is a useless endeavor.


So I’m stuck, designing with the default fonts set by the web browser?


Well, unless readers set their own fonts.


What?


Yeah, check it out. I’ve set up my fonts and display just the way I like it: black background, orange text and the fonts are all Courier.


AAAHHHHHH!!!!! You fiend! My designs! My beautiful designs!


All ruined! What a world … what a world….


Well that’s what you get when you try to control visual presentation on a multiplatform environment.

Stupid designer.

Some time later …

I figured it out!

What? What did you figure out?

Fonts on the web. I got them to work.

WOW! It’s … it’s beautiful! Elegant, refined, readable.

I don’t understand. This shouldn’t be possible. How’d you do this?

Oh, it was easy. I made our entire site into a background GIF, flattened the text down into the bitmap, and then just made an image map around all the linkable items.

But that’s monstrous! It’s unstructured! It’s unsearchable!

It’s unindexable! It’s … it’s …

It’s got the font control that I need.

(looks at file size) IT’S 150 KILOBYTES!!!!

But I have the fonts I needed.

AHHHH!!!!!! My server! My poor server!

What a world! What a world.

Stupid engineer.

These are the designers and engineers who are creating the 21st century for us. And mind you, neither of them deserves this anthropomorphic abuse. Far from being stupid, these are a brilliant lot, each capable of excellence in their own field. "In their own field"-is that the catch then? Let’s explore this a little deeper. No matter what you make-CBT’s, games, client-server applications, web mall (the list is endless…), every seed in the IT industry is a product of a combined effort of someone who has designed it, the second person who created it and the third who brings it to the market. Each one is indispensable and what is more remarkable to note is the fact that each one believes he’s the only indispensable one! That is the fountainhead of all problems. You have a creative guy on one hand who has this brilliant visual design capabilities. On the other hand is this technical guy who thinks his verdict on what is possible and what is not is the ultimate. It would be simplistic to put this conflict away as just an ego issue. It is also a fact that both are seeing things from a different perspective. In the end it is left to you how you manage this conflict. Not only get it down but also manage to harness the potential of both and get them to produce an excellent combined effort.

What are the changes you need-new breed? Can creating designed engineers and engineered designers solve this problem? And what are they? A designed engineer will be a person who accepts the limitations of his right brain and accepts the need of the designer with a whole brain. This person is also innovative to try out new solutions as per the designer’s demand. For instance, in the story above, inclusion of an applet might have solved the designer’s problem. On the other hand, the engineered designer is the one person who, apart from his visual design capabilities, puts in effort to understand the technology he is trying to draw. Being in the IT field, this person must understand the tools and techniques to extract the maximum benefit out of them. The role of a designer in this field is a little different from a movie creator. This role requires a person to understand the resources available to create the right design.

And how do you merge the engineered designers and designed engineers to create your digital Monalisa? You use the same methodology, which is used to create music with an orchestra. Where in, each participant is in tune with the other in order to create the right symphony. The symphony you will see and hear in the designed and created 21st century world.

RENU AHUJA,
NIIT R&D Centre



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