“What about three: inclusivity, accessibility, and ethics? I’m not an expert in these areas, but the gaps and opportunities for improvement are enormous”— Jsntlr (@jsntlr) on Threads
Today we have @jsntlr What does a Designed-focused CTO mean?
Thanks for having me, Ryan!
My background in fine arts and design, as opposed to a traditional CS path, has shaped my emphasis on the role of design and design thinking within the context of technology.
I still guide our company’s tech and have lots of meetings 🙂
Design-focused here means I integrate design principles into technology decisions, bridge the gap between design and tech, and champion the importance of design.
With a background in fine arts and design, how did your career end up in technology?
I’ve always loved computers, video games, and devices. I had a childhood friend and neighbor whose dad was an engineer that worked on the Odyssey 2 by Magnavox – this was a big deal to me growing up in rural East Tennessee. I loved the instruments and testing equipment in his office. A Commodore 64 and an old Apple IIe were my first experiences with computers.
I wanted to share my work online and discovered Flash and ActionScript. This allowed me to experiment with code and to create unique interfaces and experiences outside of static html. So, I bought my first domain and started writing particle systems, designing typographic heavy sites (pre worthy css), and dynamic content systems
This led to my first position as a Designer and then Creative Technologist at Britannica.
From your perspective, how has the importance of design in technology changed over the years?
Technology is everywhere and in everything now, so design has had to become even more user-centric. Design thinking has improved everything.In my specific corner: apps, sites, and interfaces are much more reliant on grids, templates, and systems – moving away from more experiential design. This standardization is helpful and at the same time, homogenizing.
Stories: I have many, but they are too verbose to type here (we could be here for days)
What is one aspect of technology design which needs more attention?
What about three: inclusivity, accessibility, and ethics? I’m not an expert in these areas, but the gaps and opportunities for improvement are enormous, especially with AI as it becomes increasingly prevalent.
How does ethics play an important part of design?
We value aesthetics and functionality in design, but ethical considerations like privacy, security, and transparency are often treated as afterthoughts. They’re all important for visual and systems design.
From a CTO perspective, what are the challenges of getting devs and designers aligned?
One of the biggest challenges is the inherent wall between the disciplines. I’ve been on both sides and it isn’t fun to have design thrown over the wall or have code completed in a vacuum — This fosters resentment.
To help solve this, I’m a fan of designers and developers or designer-developers working in pairs. I mentioned this previously on threads: it’s reminiscent of traditional creative director/copywriter duos. This ensures alignment and great work.
Design in code. Code is design.
How can people find you elsewhere online?
Thanks so much, Ryan! I enjoy your interviews, so it was a privilege to be asked to participate. You should live stream these; I make funny faces.
Elsewhere: I have LinkedIn (if you linkedin) and Instagram (I’m not an influencer) accounts with the same handle “jsntlr”
See the Full Interview on Threads: @ryan.swanstrom • Threads Dev Interview #29 I am finding developers on Threads and interviewing them, right here on… • Threads