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Love to get some community input here:

Should web designers have basic knowledge of their hardware? Basic concept of things like RAM, processors, HD speed, anything.

While they don't need have an IT Sys Admin's level of understanding, maybe graphic/web designers should have a basic understanding of such things because it applies more directly than most to their job?



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closed as not a real question by Shane Madden, Sven, mdpc, Ward, MadHatter Jan 22 '13 at 7:12

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Most designers I have dealt with have some basic knowledge of the hardware they need. They are usually aware that Adobe products need lots of RAM to be efficient. Everything else is trivial. – xeon Feb 1 '10 at 22:26
Great conversation and input below, thanks guys =) – Malnizzle Feb 2 '10 at 14:37
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I'm person who receives enjoyment from my car, and knowing how it works, and what everything does. I drive a manual because I enjoy the ability to be able to control the power delivery of the car more accurately, and I love being able to put the back end out with a good push of my right hoof.

My wife on the other hand, just wants to get to work and back without breaking down, and refuses to drive my car because it's too big and she hates driving in peak hour with a clutch.

Should my wife have to know everything about how her car works? No, of course not. In fact, most people don't. It's just a tool to her.

Likewise, the computer is probably a passion for you, but a tool for the web designer. In the same way that my wife just doesn't want to break down, the web designed just wants the computer to work.

As far as I'm concerned this is fine. Becuase too often an accountant will complain that they need a 280GTX for, umm, MYOB, and because their son said it was the best graphics card on the market, and MYOB is running slowly so it MUST be the graphics card because things are drawing slowly on the screen, and screw the fact that it's a $500 video card. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

That's why God invented Macs.

Had to give +1 for Mac. Amen! :) – osij2is Feb 1 '10 at 22:50

If knowledge is power, then there's no harm in knowing more. As for designers, I can understand that their focus isn't on the physical hardware tools, although they may never realize how hardware can have an effect on their work.

You could also look at things from a designers perspective (or devil's advocate). As a programmer or systems/web admin, why don't we know more about designer tools, styles, fashion, etc. etc.? If we are presumably working with web sites or applications, should we as IT take more aware of their field?

It all comes down to balance. Yes, designers need to work with computers but that doesn't mean they should know every little detail about it. A computer is a tool or a means to an end. For most of us computer nerds, this is not always the case.

I'm not saying details, I'm talking about RAM. – Malnizzle Feb 1 '10 at 22:30
Actually, you said: "should have a basic understanding of such things because it applies greatly to their work". Well, 'applies greatly' is a pretty gray area. Does it help to know the more RAM the better? Sure. Does it help to know why more RAM is better? Meh. For designers... probably not. – osij2is Feb 1 '10 at 22:49

In an ideal world perhaps. Ignoring the issue of whether they are interested in the hardware or not, in reality a graphic or web designed has no real need to know about the physical hardware, other than as much as it affects their use of that hardware (different keyboard layouts, mice, etc.), as nothing they do should be dependent on that hardware. Software is of course a completely different matter.


Would knowing more about their job make you better at yours, and do you have the time to do that?

If not then ask yourself what their answers would be.

People are just different and busy.


In nearly any profession, having a working knowledge of the other professions that interact with your own will, in turn, make you more effective in your work. The most obvious example is in being able to converse intelligently with your coworkers, clients and suppliers, and being able to appreciate where they're coming from. Without some knowledge of their field, you can't empathise.

So I guess by generalising your question a bit I've already given my answer. A web designer with any amount of knowledge about computer hardware will be more effective at his/her job than one that has no knowledge.

I do see a repeated pattern of folks that work in the 'soft' IT fields (programming, bpre, sap, web design, development) where the people that don't know much about 'core' IT stuff tend to be harder to deal with than the folks that can 'talk shop' intelligently. Maybe that's my problem rather than theirs ;)

My experience suggests that a non-technical person knowing a little about the hardware they're using will not result in them being able to "converse intelligently" about computers. Quite the contrary, as they tend to get everything wrong and thereby merely cause further confusion. Case in point: Referring the the computer as "the hard drive". – John Gardeniers Feb 2 '10 at 2:28
That's not knowing something, that's arrogance leading to the belief you know something you don't. I definitely wouldn't advocate that ;) – Chris Thorpe Feb 2 '10 at 3:05
Don't confuse ignorance with arrogance. That person may genuinely believe that what they are saying is correct. – John Gardeniers Feb 2 '10 at 4:10

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