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A lively discussion flowed at Manchester's first Dribbble Meetup hosted by the design team at e3creative in our city centre studio. This event was organised as part of our agency’s ongoing discussion series, exploring the digital sector and how it is shaping our future, involving a range of monthly events.
At the Dribbble Meetup, on the 19th of July, over 30 creative-thinkers came together to participate in a roundtable debate and conversed over topics relating to common challenges designers face and how to best overcome them. The evening was facilitated by e3creative Head of Design & UX Simon Fairhurst. He proactively sparked discussion and introduced counteractive standpoints tied to industry trends, tools, and software, such as the purpose of Sketch compared to InvIsion Studio, and Adobe XD, among others.
As ideas and opinions bounced back-and-forth throughout the room, we noted the 3 most active discussion points.
Working Collaboratively on a Project
Those who are passionate about their craft often butt heads with others that are equally as dedicated, yet are approaching the situation with a different mentality. The room addressed how much collaboration with the client is too much and when the designer should stand forward, take ownership and use their expertise to explain what is best practice - even if it goes against the client’s preference.
The majority of the designers in the room agreed that a high-level of assertiveness should be taken right from the get-go whereas others in attendance disagreed, stating: “the client is always in charge and, as a designer, you’re supporting their vision and are responsible for delivering it.” And, a third group chimed in to add: “if you know for a fact the client’s approach won’t deliver the results they’re aiming for, you have an ethical and professional obligation to stand up. It’s one thing to create a design that is aesthetically pleasing and a piece that the client is proud of. Although, if the design is not creating an impact or activating potential the way it should be, or is expected to, the client won’t be happy for long and will likely question the work of the designer.”
The working-collaboratively conversation stemmed pasted the client and artist relationship and onto a common ‘chicken and egg scenario’ faced every day in the industry. This question was asked: what comes first - content vs. design? In a room full of creatives, you’d think this would be a shoo-in for a quick, straightforward response with no debate needed, however, that wasn’t fully the case. There were some remarks along the lines of: “how can you source an image without knowing what you are saying?”, yet most people in the room understood points of views from both sides of the project, concluding: “in an ideal world you would have all the content upfront prior to starting the design but when you’re working on a massive project that is just not feasible. There are areas in a website, app or printed booklet that tend to just appear and you didn’t even realise you needed content for.”
Should Digital Designers Know Code?
In a busy agency environment craftsman wear multiple hats and are encouraged to up-skill and side-skill to make themselves more valuable and knowledgeable in their trade. With regards to a very hotly debated subject, whether digital designers should know how to code, the room threw out snippets of their thinking that was summed up to reach this collective point: “designers are better designers if they don’t know how to code, since they’re not restricting themselves creatively by thinking technically. All designers should have a basic understanding of code; enough to push boundaries, knowing what can be done and able to confidently challenge the front-end developer, yet be empathetic to their struggles at the same time.”
Is Working With Startup or Global Brands More Fulfilling?
Designers are renowned in the industry for having abstract points of views and for disrupting conventional thought, often going against the grain and challenging a room, and therefore, it was surprising to see that the entire group came together to reach a unanimous conclusion - everyone would rather work as a designer for a start-up operation over a globally-recognised brand. Attendees acknowledged that big brands come with strict guidelines which put limits on creativity. They further said, “it can be frustrating to jump through hoops and wait long periods of time for approval before seeing their work move forward.” A senior designer in the room spoke from experience, adding: “ when you’re just starting out working on big brands provides great exposure since they’re so strict and you can really grasp software, fine-tune your execution and demonstrate high attention to detail. You can mould your creativity and gain high-exposure. When you work for a startup you get the thrill of a blank canvas and it almost becomes your brand - the large globally-recognised brands prep you for this.”
There were a number of additional topics covered relating to emergent digital sources of inspiration, UI/ UX and when it is ‘worth’ going above and beyond for a project. The creative conversation will continue to form, as e3creative is hosting Dribbble events quarterly in Manchester with the next one scheduled for October. If you’d like to collaborate or give us feedback, please reach out.