I have recently been more and more involved in digital projects and developed a great passion for the subtleties of this medium. Up until this point my involvement has been limited to the initial conception and design stages then more of a consultancy role during the actual build process. This is an area in which I have wanted to develop for some time and the opportunity recently presented itself.
My reasoning was that the more you know about a subject (or in this case the medium for which you are designing) the more your can exploit its advantages and better meet the needs of the client. Using this site as a learning project under the guidance of the development team has very much increased my understanding of the requirements needed from the designer in order that the developer to properly execute their vision. The technical limitations, as well as the possibilities afforded by the medium, are essential for a designer to know. Not perhaps to the degree that they would be able to build the site from scratch themselves, but definitely to design a practical, fully functioning website.
The general approach of how to design a website often comes under scrutiny. Many designers will simply create a Photoshop visual of their idea but many developers argue the importance of designing in a web application to get a true representation of the workings of the site. From my recent experience the visual is vitally important, but only shows you so much (usually a best case scenario). Dealing with live content and the ability to adapt redesigned elements during the build is vital.
Taking a visual and finessing the details during the build is a great working practice. Taking the job to fruition and having sole ownership also means an increased responsibility for every detail and there is no excuse for any misinterpretation or information being lost in translation.
In my opinion, anyone designing for digital projects would find it beneficial to understand the practicalities that go into the build and development of the site. This is an invaluable experience and will influence my design decisions in all future projects.