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Top Ten Things We Learned from Design Week’s INTERACT Panel Discussion

November 12, 2013 / By Kate Lawless

On Monday, October 21, Khoi Vinh, former design director of The New York Times, joined AIGA Baltimore for a Design Week panel discussion on interactive design at the 2640 Space. Khoi and fellow panelists April Osmanof from Baltimore’s FastSpot, Andy Mangold from Baltimore’s Friends of the Web, and James Pannafino from Millersville University discussed what it was like to be an interactive designer in the 21st century. We laughed, we learned, and we gained new insights on working in the interactive field.

Here are a few things attendees learned from the discussion:

1. Every medium starts out with an initial purpose that evolves over time. The web started out as a library of documents and its purpose has evolved into a method of sharing content and creating conversation.

2. Baltimore has up-and-coming art and tech scenes (that often collide). People are moving to Baltimore because it’s a “cheap” place to start from the ground up. April Osmanof says Baltimore “has an art heartbeat at its core,” which fuels creativity on many different levels and industries.

3. Designers are learning to code HTML, CSS, and sometimes even Javascript because helps the team to complete projects on tight deadlines. Of course, it’s also helpful for designers and developers to speak (or at least understand) the same languages.

4. Pairing designers with developers is great for project communication and cross-training. Plus, it often results in better products.

5. Very few team-based creatives work from home. When everyone works together in the same place and at the same time we produce better work; we can get work done faster with fewer communication roadblocks.

6. If you’re just starting out in interactive design, work on a personal project to get some portfolio material. Remember that every artist was at first an amateur with developing skills.

7. There’s always something new to learn working in web production. On trying to keep up on new technologies, even James Pannafino struggles: “I freak out everyday.” So, know that you’re not alone.

8. As interactive designers, we have to get and stay comfortable with the ultimate unknown web. What’s next? Who knows.

9. Most clients know what responsive design is and why it’s important (finally!). If you still need to make the transition to coding responsively, ask yourself: “does this column or object need to have a fixed width or can it be flexible?”

10. Quick prototypes (like QuickTime movies with screen captures) are a great way to engage your client and convey interactivity from the get-go.

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