Web Acumen

Preparing for the future of connectivity

What is Web Acumen?

Web Acumen is an understanding of the materials of the web that leads to good decisions about how to do web-friendly work.

The Web is a mature medium


What is the Web made of?

Every web asset is made of these things:

  1. Data source (grocery store)
  2. Data (the groceries)
  3. Markup (the cookware)
  4. Style (the recipe)
  5. Rendering (the chef)

These are the materials of the web. Web things that skip or combine the materials above lack material honesty.

What this looks like today

  1. Data source = Database + API (Application Program Interface)
  2. Data = Content/Information
  3. Markup = HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
  4. Style = CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
  5. Rendering = Browser or App

These will certainly change and improve, but we can be flexible in the face of change.

How does this affect me?

If you create things that people access with a digital device connected to a network, you're creating Web things. Creating things in harmony with the materials of the web means they are more future-friendly and flexible to meet the great diversity of demands in the digital world.

An important consideration

You probably don't have the tools you need to do this yet. There are staggering amounts of tools that are dedicated to recreating old media in the digital world. There are few that allow us to use the natural materials and strengths of the Web as a mature medium.

But Web Acumen is about a change in perspective. How can we look to the future instead of at the past?

The Rules of Web Acumen

  1. Separate information from presentation
  2. You have no control over the output or input your audience uses
  3. You are an information designer

Rule #1: Separate information from style

Of the five materials of the web, we often only have control of the information and how it appears (style). Many digital formats combine them, making it difficult to reuse or change either part.

We all want complete creative control, but using strict formats like PDFs and Word docs that rigidly combine the content with style sacrifice future-friendliness.

Rule #2: You have no control over the output or input your audience uses

People often don't have a choice about the output or input method they use. Web Acumen means sensitivity to these realities and not creating or settling for inflexible products.

Rule #3: You are an information designer

How could Web Acumen help in these situations?

  1. Creating a video tutorial
  2. Creating a policy document in Microsoft Word

Quick wins

  1. Don't put text in images (Rule 1)
  2. Challenge vendors with accessibility and responsive design (Rule 2)
  3. Use SharePoint lists before documents (Rule 3)

The Results of good Web Acumen

More to come