Do you have what it takes to be a creative technologist? Read on to find out what the role entails and if it’s a good fit for you.
A recurrent theme in this year’s Creative Team of the Future research was a need for greater collaboration in the workplace, particularly between creative and technology departments. So it’s no surprise that one of the hot roles identified in our survey of more than 800 in-house creative professionals was creative technologist. Creative technologists generally fall into one of two camps: a techie with creative talent or a creative with a knack for tech. Either way, a good creative technologist has a solid understanding of both fields.
What is a creative technologist? The Creative Group Salary Guide defines the creative technologist as a “technology-focused professional who understands the creative process and is good at prototyping early, facilitating prototype testing and implementing changes.” This person is responsible for building web projects as well as mobile and other digital experiences. Naturally, creative technologists must be open to feedback and comfortable handling risk and change.
While the creative technologist role is still relatively new, it has evolved since coming onto the scene. We chatted with Angela Vitzthum, director of product at SnapMobile, to find out what it takes to land a creative technologist job today.
TCG: What does your role as a creative technologist entail? What skills do you use?
Angela Vitzthum: I’m fortunate to have my hands on every aspect of the product process. I’m involved in concept meetings and putting together extensive product outlines. I then create wireframes and clickable prototypes that I present to clients. Once they sign off, I oversee the entire project through completion. This includes wrangling a test group and gathering feedback, iterating on builds, and setting up developer accounts. My day-to-day routine includes everything from refining product concepts and information architecture to account and project management.
Strong communication, presentation and time-management skills are essential for the role as is the ability to multitask and pivot at a moment’s notice. Above all else, you must be able to stay calm under pressure and know how to solve problems.
How has the creative technologist role changed over the past few years?
I feel the role has progressed similarly to other creative and technology positions. The more you can do, particularly from a hands-on technical standpoint, the better. The title “creative technologist” itself is fairly ambiguous, and the tasks involved can vary from company to company. The position can be more creative or more technical in nature.
What path did you take to become a creative technologist?
I participated in product management groups, took a General Assembly course specific to product management and threw myself headfirst into the industry. I also identified a few mentors and read everything I could related to mobile, product management and employment trends from The Creative Group and Robert Half Technology.
What’s the best part of the job?
Honestly, everything. There is nothing more rewarding than doing hands-on creative and technical work. Seeing something come to fruition from an initial conversation with a client to forming a product on a whiteboard to downloading an app is a powerful feeling. I’m also insanely fortunate to get to throw in daily with some of the smartest and hardest-working people in Chicago.
What’s the most challenging aspect of the creative technologist role?
The unknown. Requirements can change at a moment’s notice, and scope creep is a battle I too often fight. With each project, you learn something new and what you can do differently moving forward.
What can employers do to maximize creative technologists and ensure they stay happy and challenged?
Allow creative technologists to have a say. Whether it’s in the product or process, everyone has a unique perspective to bring to the table. I find there’s strength in numbers, so why wouldn’t I leverage the expertise of my colleagues? No one wants to be another cog in the wheel, especially if the goal is to take risks, innovate and come up with solutions or ideas that are outside the norm.
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