Since I’ve been in the business of making things for people, I’ve always thought there was a clear distinction between designers and developers. They dress different and concentrate on different things. How can lines of code be the same as a logo?
After attending Brooklyn Beta I opened my eyes. I talked to a variety of people, from project owners to developers to designers. One developer recounted how he had hired a new designer who had created some great mockups in Photoshop. He was on a tight deadline, and was able to complete about 80% of the design elements. The designer was very angry with the end result. The developer then offered to fly her out to teach her the basics to implement future designs, and she refused.
This entirely blew my mind.
A year ago I would have agreed with the designer, but after working at Gaslight, I have changed my tune. Why would anyone turn down a chance to have more control over your design?
The topic of “should designers learn to code?” came up a lot in different forms. This question opens a whole can of worms, which I won’t get into, but it did make me think. I no longer consider myself just a designer. I don’t create a screen mockup without also considering how I’m going to implement the CSS. How creative can I be with a set number of elements, reusing a small amount of pieces over and over? I want to create modular elements that can be used on multiple pages. These are typical design thoughts but, without realizing it, it is also how developers think. I wanted to minimize my lines of code and I want to create core design element that can be modified in a logical way. Most of all I want, I want to craft clean code that makes sense.
Did I just write that line? The designer who used to think that code was completely different than design? Yes.
Sure, designers and developers concentrate on different things. You won’t catch me too deep in a .rb file and I will never give up my mouse. That’s ok. We are still both trying to create the best experience we can. We want it to be functional with the minimum number of things going on.
Designers and developers are part of a community of making. Together, we create products that can connect them with people all over the world, make their job easier, or at least entertain them for a few seconds. Everyone involved in the process strives for the same things, it’s simply the output that is different. There is beauty in a scalable site architecture, as there is an intuitive UI. It’s not a line between developers and designers, but an intersection. We can and should strive individually to push those boundaries to make the intersection bigger.
So what I’m trying to say is that we are simply creators with different concentrations.