Pretty Petty Conflicts - Designers & Developers


Sunday, 13 February, 2011

Content Ever since the digital media industry has carved out roles such as visual designer or developer, if you've ever worked AS one of them, I'm betting my virtual soul that you've worked WITH the other.

Take this scenario. The designer comes up with a snazzy new interface that uses multiple colours, one for each section of a website. The designer's boss approves and even adds to the idea. He gets the sign-off and talks to the developer to make it happen.

The developer double-checks. "You want each section to have its own colour?" Yep.

The trouble is, the developer has to build this interface inside of an existing content management system that already allocates a generic colour and isn't built for such customisation. The developer rolls his eyes and declares that it's not worth their time to figure out a way to do this, just to have some "pretty colours".

A typical digital project could have lots of intricate paths and processes both conceptual and technical, so of course the scenario above has been described simpler than real.


However, if you're a developer, don't always assume that you're being forced to do something just because the idea is proposed. Especially if you haven't been consulted in the first place. Don't fold those arms just yet as digital designers aren't all about unimportant fluff and as much as you'd want it to justify your attitude, they're aren't all out to complicate your job.

In fact, design is sometimes as much about perceptive logic as it is about visuals and a good degree of thinking might have happened beforehand to merge the creative idea with the underlying scripts as comfortably as possible. So don't judge too early.


Similarly, if you're a designer, don't assume you're stuck with the limitations that a technical infrastructure might have. Sure, you should know them, know how far you can go with them, and always respect where developers are coming from. But then you can try pushing that little bit further, so long as your idea is good. But remember that there is usually more than one solution for your visuals, but once something technical is broken, it's broken.


Indeed it is an intricate process when it comes to executing work that inherently combines both design and programming and experienced practitioners of both understand the importance of communication.

But sometimes, it doesn't matter how much something is judged to be a waste of time - by either side - the powers that be might simply demand that it be done. At which point there's no point saying no. It's your job to make it happen.


I firmly believe that when a good designer and a good developer work well together, then the work they produce goes from good to great. However, in parallel to this comes the rise of the designer developer - creators who've grown up with the technology and are more likely to be fluent.

These are people who can work well on both sides of the page and when they take on just one of the roles, the other person will love them all the more for it.

Who are you and what do you want to be?

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