I am currently in San Francisco at the Web 2.0 Expo. The first session I attended was on the New Hybrid Designer. Some well known panelists were on stage including Kelly Goto. They essentially chatted about how the typical 'web designer' is no longer just a designer, but must also have a command of development as well - okay maybe not command, but they should be versed and know what a variable, loop and array is. The one nugget I grabbed from this session is particularly relevant to Elastic Path...
We have recently been on the hunt for a User Experience Designer (the job is now filled). We had a high bar as we desired a workflow and experience/front end coding/visual experience person. Quite a lofty expectation. Like in any project, you can usually only have 2 out of the 3. The panel discussed not pigeon holing employees into vertical roles, but educating and enabling cross functionality.
The most successful hybrid designers/developers are often the knowledge seeking ones. They subscribe to both design and programming feeds. Often send emails to other staff about new things they have found or have developed. They are rare, and we need to start molding more of them within our organizations in order to become more agile. Agility seemed to be a key factor in the shift to a hybrid designer.
The last thing that was quite relevant was regarding workflow. The old way was to start with a sitemap. A very "book" centric approach. The new way is to start with user intent. This is a huge shift in thinking for a user experience designer on the web. Users enter a workflow from so many different ways nowadays. The system should be more open and less linear.