Resting, Back Ends and the Web 2.0

April 20, 2006

Lately I've been having a lot of conversations about the Web 2.0, and I have to tell you that, as a designer, it's starting to make me nervous. Not that I don't like the theories and web applications that are being dubbed "Web 2.0." But I can't help giving a little sigh and muttering, "W-ell, here we go again..." Just when I was getting a teeny bit comfortable with my knowledge level, the web changed on me again. Ha! Comfort as a web designer? Perish the thought. Last year I was hoping Richard MacManus and Joshua Porter weren't right when they wrote in Web 2.0 for Designers, "What does this [Web 2.0] mean for Web designers? It means designers have to start thinking about how to brand content as well as sites. It means designers have to get comfortable with Web services and think beyond presentation of place to APIs and syndication. In short, it means designers need to become more like programmers. Web 2.0 is a world of thin front ends and powerful back ends..." At the time I was already working like a mad woman learning CSS and semantic XHTML. But just in case MacManus and Porter were right, I thought I'd better learn just enough PHP to design for PHP-run sites as well. So I did. And for a few minutes--maybe three or four--I felt pretty pleased with myself. Then of course, along came AJAX. John Oxton recently worried in Joshuaink, "I feel I am on my way to becoming obsolete, I am going out of fashion, I am a breed of web designer that is dead in the water; I am not a fully blown graphic designer nor a programmer, I am somewhere in between and master of neither. If I rest on my laurels now I have one or two years, at best, before I am going to be of no interest to anyone seriously involved in producing websites in this day and age." At least he has laurels to rest on. All I have is a stack of unread PHP and JavaScript manuals.