Within Automattic Design, we have two communities of practice: “creative technology” and “product experience”. Every designer falls into one of these two communities. Having this distinction helps us to create balanced teams, as well as sharpen craft and develop mastery among our designers.

What is a creative technologist?

For our purposes, the basic distinction of a creative technologist is that they use code to express design intent. Their skills exist on a spectrum of classical design to development, skewing towards the latter. As a result, a creative technologist is often defined by the specific programming languages, frameworks, and software they know. This is no different than many jobs that are technical in nature.

However, defining a creative technologist solely on their tools breaks down quickly. Depending on the company and industry, from one job description to another you may encounter a vast range of tools for a candidate to have mastered. What does someone who knows React have in common with someone who knows Cinder and openFrameworks, both of which might be reasonable tools for a “creative technologist” to know? And more generally, what use is a title if it doesn’t provide some shared understanding of its responsibilities?

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