Jack of all Trades

Reading time: 2 mins

If you’re eating enough fruits and vegetables, you must not give a damn about protein is Jeffrey Zeldman’s response to (amongst others) Standard Angst by Greg Storey.

Zeldman’s point is one I can empathise with. It’s very similar to my professional job in approach, as these days, designing for the web encompasses a myriad of distinct skills. A site must be visually appealing (graphic design), must follow various usability rules (user interface design), must be unique (creativity), must load quickly (technical understanding), must be easy to navigate (information design), must… the list goes on.

Add to this list the ‘standards’ argument and you then need to be able to understand and code CSS layouts, and your code should meet with W3 compliance. These days coding a website is rapidly approaching the state where you could class yourself as a programmer.

My job is the same. As a Technical Author you need to be able to write to a high standard, understand technical information, design documents to meet differing audience knowledge levels, create diagrams that remain simple whilst conveying complex concepts, understand HOW the software is structured which invariably requires some degree of knowledge of the underlying coding structure… and so on.

In essence I agree with Zeldman’s point, just because you are focussing on one area doesn’t mean you are letting your knowledge of another area slip. However Greg does have some valid points, and I guess it was only time before this happened.

As with any idea which is thrown into the (main)stream many people latch onto it and are quite happy to float away, still clinging to that idea. Other people will swim over, check out the idea, maybe tag along for a while and the head off to find something a bit large, a bit more stable.

I guess this is my way of explaining why I’m not THAT bothered if my coding doesn’t pass CSS and XHTML validation. I believe the use of standards is important, but until such times as the BROWSERS support the standard, it’s always going to be a fudge to make your site appear the same everywhere. My response is that I don’t bother. My site looks similar in IE 5.5/6, Opera, and Firefox. If anything was seriously wrong in another browser I’m sure someone would tell me.

Hmmm, that was a bit more than I’d planned to say on this topic. Suffice to say that I’ve done a little tweaking and will hopefully update things here later today – as I said previously “Ask and ye shall receive”.