I have been a server administrator, a webmaster, a LAN/WAN administrator, and Mac (OS 7/8/9/X) support specialist, for as long as I can remember. OK, perhaps since 1986. I have had my fair share of hilarious technical support requests and queries, and tried my best to serve these end-user needs without incident.
However, it comes a point, especially in the 21st century where everyone ought to be digital natives and savvy about computers, smartphones, tablets, and other smart and connected devices, that end-users should not have the excuse to not have minimal IT knowledge for their daily work.
For example, I would consider not bothering to answer a request if it involves the following:
User: My smartphone shows a black screen.
Tech: Have you rebooted the device?
User: What is a reboot?
Tech: Turn the device off and then on again.
User: I tried. It still shows a black screen.
Tech: Have you charged your device yesterday or today?
User: What is charging?
Or something akin to this:
User: My computer crashed.
Tech: Have you rebooted the computer?
User: What is a reboot?
Tech: Turn the computer off and then on again.
User: I turned off the button off and on again, and the screen shows the same thing.
Tech: Which button did you press to off the computer?
User: The button on the monitor.
And on the creative and marketing front, the arena is not much better. I have been a pioneer in desktop publishing and interactive media since the 1980s, and then an Internet and web developer since the 1990s. As a college-educated fine artist and a practicing designer and creative director, I faced many conundrums through the years, akin to this scenario with designers with little technical knowledge:
Production: Your images are too big. Can you optimize them first and resend to us.
Designer: What is optimize?
Production: Your images are full-resolution, which are not necessary for the dot screen we are printing at the press. You should scale them down to cater to the dot screen and the approximate sizes they will be in your publication.
Designer: I don’t know how to do that.
I have produced advertisements and collaterals in the early days of desktop publishing, and been in both design and production. I know what it means to reduce file sizes down so that production teams can produce them without memory errors. I have mastered the art of making the files as minimal to be perceptually acceptable for any medium, whether it be glossy magazines, newsprint, or the Web.
And am I a genius? Absolutely not. I am just someone who cares enough of my work to read up, to research, to experiment, and to refine my skills and techniques until I can make processes work with minimal fuss or obstacles. It is simply – responsibility.
So, the next time you are hiring a graphic designer, an administrator, a marketing executive, or anyone who needs to go near a computing device or some high technology gear, you may want to make sure this candidate or contractor has the pre-requisite skills and knowledge, and is passionate to learn on his/her own. That is the least you should expect from a responsible employee or contractor.
After all, every corner you turn, there is a technical college, or online learning program, and there is no reason for someone not to be able to learn.