Maybe the concept of being an expert changes slightly over time.
As the knowledge world gets richer and less overviewable, maybe we demand different things from them than we did some years ago?
I think that in a world where not everything is 'know-how', but more and more is 'know-where', we do. And by examining what successful people do today, I find more and more masterpieces of a new technique. It's key skills are
  1. knowing where the cool things are and how to use them
  2. assembling them in a way that feels like a new whole
I'm actually implementing a standard design for my Website Generator. And what is true for Code Generation is certainly also true for Web Design: It's a science on its own... still and also in the world of CSS.
I am pretty sure that a lot of people know the following steps:
  1. I fast-hacked and threw away my first design, of course...
  2. I made a second try, trying out some ideas of others. The plan was to take the basic idea, and then develop my own ideas from there on
  3. because I chose a good inspiration from Paul Griffin, I soon noticed that I was stearing towards adopting every design decision Paul had made. It seemed unavoidable. Try not to follow an expert when you have no idea. Sigh.

And even more: Before you tried yourself, you may say that you value an expert's work, but you can't understand what you just said.
I felt a bit like Paul's shadow when I understood the need for every little step in his design, standing behind him in one of those nights full of web design x years ago. He really did a good job.
Then, you might say, he did not make it all up himself, either. The image rotator, for example, can be traced back to an article in A List Apart (I had already wrote my own image rotating code when I found that article Paul had used). And maybe all of the other ideas also have originated somewhere else.
Agreed. I think that when you plan/design something bigger, the key thing to go for is the right combination of ideas, call it a patchwork. A kind of puzzle, and in the end, if you've done a good job, the pieces fit. This is what Paul has done. His Website looks really nice without the user having to notice all the little details that went in there. Some Web Designers would say that this is a pretty good rough description of their work.
In that sense, today's Web Design successes might have some similarities with today's Open Source successes. Take Ubuntu Linux. I think a key to its success is that it assembles all the good software (Firefox, OpenOffice, Gimp, Gnome, MMX, Thunderbird, etc etc) in such a way that I don't have to anymore. Time is rare. I love it, for that exact reason. And speaking of Open Source, assembling free software modules could be a market of tomorrow. Listen to Kim Polese at Web 2.0 Conference.

So the experts of our times might be those who patch other ideas together so that most people love the result. I think this is what Paul has done in a great way (Plus, he did that real cool :hover-hack for IE). There is still a lot of know-how involved, but there is something more to it these days.
follow comments per RSS     
You are seeing a selection of all entries on this page. See all there are.