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Let Your Design Skills Shine—Even in HTML5


Wed Feb 06 2013

Let Your Design Skills Shine—Even in HTML5

Last week at TechKnowledge 2013, I moderated a TK Chat on authoring tools and HTML5 with panelists Philip Neal, Thomas Toth, and Joe Ganci -- all individuals who are navigating the transition to HTML5 in the context of a reduced tool set, a still-changing specification, and ongoing browser fragmentation. The audience had some excellent questions about how our designers can build interactive, engaging experiences when our coding skill sets and our authoring tools are still, in large part, only getting off the ground.

I know that there are many in our field who would respond that designers should not be also playing the part of developers; this would decrease our reliance on rapid authoring tools and make all of these waters easier to navigate. That is completely fair, though some would counter that it's not realistic for everyone.


I've also made the point in the past that we need to focus on true interactivity instead of flashy video and animation -- in the form of branching, for example. Take A. Pintura, Art Detective, listed on Cathy Moore's excellent Elearning samples page. As Moore notes, it's not the strongest example of graphic design, but it's an excellent example of branching based on the learner's decision-making. This is true interactivity; it's not the learners' fingers or eyes that need the interaction, but their minds. And the good news is that branching can be created using the merely links. Links are the most basic building blocks of the web; they’re valid in every browser, on every device, and in every version of HTML, and they are the means by which learners make their own branching scenarios every day.

Even still, Philip Neal took this idea a step further, and it's that message that I wanted to share. For designers who are confident in their design skills but perhaps not their technical skills, this getting-back-to-the-basics mentality is a good thing. That’s right. Your company is still using Internet Explorer 7 and you need to deliver learning experiences to both laptops and iPads? Then take this opportunity to shine with true interactivity and lowest-common-denominator tech. Let your interaction design skills come out, and your writing, and your ability to create a right-sized, easily accessed solution.

On the flip side, for designers who are more accustomed to creating CCBB than true interactivity, take this opportunity to get your feet wet. Try out a simple tool like Twine (thanks again to Cathy Moore and Steve Flowers for sharing) to help with organization and even to produce simple HTML; you can then open it up and start getting familiar with basic web code. You win.

Thanks to the panelists of this TK Chat and thanks to everyone who attended. Your participation made it a great session, and if you’d like to continue the conversation, please do so in the comments.

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