Huw Sayer: If everyone is coding, who will do the design?

Harry Dunn, 13, and, right, James Livesey, 12 at a technology conference in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY

Harry Dunn, 13, and, right, James Livesey, 12 at a technology conference in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Do you sometimes feel baffled by how new technology works? You are not alone; yet you almost certainly appreciate new technology that works well. That is why tech businesses need both skilled developers and talented creatives.

Huw Sayer. Picture: Mary Hamilton

Huw Sayer. Picture: Mary Hamilton

There is a big push, particularly in schools, to teach people how to code, in the belief that most jobs in the future will need qualified coders. Of course, organisations increasingly need programmers to build and maintain their systems and websites. Yet it will always take more than just efficient code and smart technology to build a great business.

Functionality is not the only reason why people buy things: design is also an essential part of the process. 'How does this make me feel – does it work the way I want – does it feel intuitive?' These are just some of the non-technical questions people ask themselves when choosing technology.

Successful businesses engage, delight and even inspire customers – and that takes imagination. People don't just want computers that work – they want beautiful computers too. Steve Jobs understood and shared this desire long before other PC manufacturers, which is why Apple is now the world's most valuable brand.

People want style AND substance

Even purely digital businesses – whether website builders, app developers or games designers – are about so much more than coding and development. We shouldn't lose sight of this in our education system or the workplace. Just because someone can't code doesn't mean they can't contribute.

The best apps and smart-phones appeal to people not just because developers make them work but because designers create elegant user experiences. The best video games are now like movies. They need designers and animators to create amazing images, and storytellers to create intriguing plots and characters.

Most Read

Businesses succeed when they have a clear strategy and the technical and creative ability to execute that strategy. Yet creativity comes in many forms, as members of Hot Source, Norwich, saw during their December innovation forum. Scientists, coders, architects and artists presented ideas ranging from an app that cares for your fish, and a toy dog that loves cultural attractions, to virtual reality headsets and games that can help with town planning.

Norwich is a recognised #TechNation cluster but we can build on this success by championing the diversity of both digital and creative talent in the East. Young people need to feel inspired by the opportunities in industry for both the artistically and technically minded. After all, in a world dominated by the 'internet of things' companies will need imagination and creativity to design technology that fits seamlessly into our lives.

• Huw Sayer is the co-organiser of Hot Source, Norwich.