Today’s technology brings us websites and apps that are increasingly powerful, elegantly designed and easy to use. Every year holds the promise of significant leaps forward as far as the technical capabilities of our products go. An incredible level of collaborative ingenuity is required to bring these groundbreaking creations to market. On the one hand, you’ve got the creative innovators dreaming up amazing new products the world has never seen before and on the other hand, you’ve got the engineers who write the code that make these innovations possible. So, we’ve got designers and engineers working together to make really cool stuff… but how does the artistic vision of your team’s creatives get translated into the beeps and clicks that constitute the programming under the hood of every brilliant digital product we use? Introducing the Technical Director (TD), the invaluable bridge between inspired vision and digital brass tax.
The ideal Technical Director keeps one foot happily tapping in the team’s creative camp and the other foot firmly rooted in the world of technical expertise. He navigates and negotiates between desired content and the technical implications involved in that content’s creation. The TD facilitates a project’s creative work by developing and managing the technical tools and pipelines that will create the project’s creative assets. He’s fluent in the languages of both designer diva and engineering geek. This fluency makes him highly capable of guiding and managing the developers in the creation of tools and pipelines that artists can understand and use easily.
The creation of websites and apps is the result of designers and engineers working together. In an ideal world, both the technical and artistic players on a project team would have a deep understanding of the other’s job, and therefore expectations on both sides would be balanced and realistic. Designers would have a perfect understanding of the implementation challenges that developers face and developers would fully appreciate the pressure designers are under to deliver on their Creative Director’s vision. In reality, this is not always the case. Developers aren’t designers, nor are designers developers, however, it is important for the entire team to be on the same page as much as possible throughout the project. The TD creates a bridge of understanding between the developers and the designers. He anticipates the tools designers will need and makes sure they’re straightforward and easy to use. He also makes sure the designers demands on the dev team are realistic and within scope. The TD helps both sides understand what’s possible and what’s unrealistic for any particular project. His dual perspective on things keeps the project moving along and saves the entire team much frustration over miscommunications and missteps in the translation from creative idea to coded reality.
Along with developing technical guidelines for any project, the TD will also spec out the budget for proposed pipelines and tool development. This takes a huge burden off the developers, who are then left free to do what they do best, program. Another crucial job the TD performs under the hood of any project is troubleshooting how to fix tools when they break. Since the TD has significant technical chops, he can help the engineers figure out exactly how a tool has been pushed past its limits when it breaks, and also strategize on a new tool, based on his understanding of the evolving technical needs of the designers who are creating the assets.
The world of web and app design is fascinating in part, because things change so quickly. Innovation never stops and the potential to create the next big thing is always present. This makes the Technical Director’s job that much more important. Functioning not only as a manager and pipeline architect, a good TD will keep abreast of the most cutting-edge technical developments in the field. He can guide the programming team in creating or purchasing tools with these innovations in engineering, broadening the scope of what’s possible for the project overall.
Projects have consistently better outcomes when design pipelines are developed and managed by Technical Directors who boast both development and design expertise. The Technical Director creates the bridge needed to have projects stay in scope and on budget.
We’d love to chat with you more about the importance of the Technical Director on a project team.