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This is our craft. This is our art.

I read a thread on Twitter today between (among others) Harry Roberts ( @csswizardry ) and Aral Balkan ( @aral ) about the use of the word ‘craft’ in our industry. While I can’t disagree with the take that saying code is ‘hand-crafted’ sounds silly, if not pretentious - I do feel that there is another aspect of the word that is absolutely applicable. I’m thinking of the noun rather than the verb. Design and development are not purely art or science. They are a blend. A blend of instinct & aesthetics, past work & present innovation. 

Harry put up a well-written and reasoned post today, referencing a conversation he had with Mark Boulton ( @markboulton ) earlier this year, and a wonderful post Mark wrote on the subject as well. I have a tremendous amount of respect for these gentlemen, and as I’ve said I don’t disagree with their thoughts on the use of the word as a verb. 

But the best design and the best code are a blend of skills that I happily refer to as my craft. I care about my craft. I’ve been doing it for a very long time - almost 20 years - and think I’m becoming fairly good at it. But anyone in our industry knows that this, perhaps more than almost any other - does not sit still for an hour, much less a month or a year or a decade. Without constantly honing our craft we become out of touch with new ideas, new technologies and new techniques.

I agree with Mark: it’s an anachronism to refer to ourselves as craftsmen and craftswomen – though the connotation of skill, practice and care is not entirely without merit. But designing and developing for the web is what I do, and I’m constantly striving to do it better. I like working on (and driving) my 45-year-old car (which by the way was built by engineers and craftsmen). But I love working on the web. I think about it, write about it, do it for fun, share a business providing strategy, design and development for clients with my wife. As Seth Godin describes it: this is our art. This is our passion. This is our craft.

(And Harry - I do get bit of a chuckle that you - as engineer - have a twitter handle that celebrates the magic of what you do with CSS!) 

Originally published on the h+w design blog

Filed under: Design Thinking

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