Have You Hugged Your Developer Today?

You are the CSS to My HTML

The relationship between a designer and a developer is delicate. Rather than resembling peanut butter and jelly or salt and pepper, designers and developers are often more comparable to oil and vinegar – they just don’t mix well. Designers are overly sensitive and idealistic, while developers are logical and more closely rooted in realism.

We have our strengths and eccentricities, but it’s important to realize we’d both have a pretty hard time getting along without the other. The fields of design and development are just too vast for one person to be equally capable in each. Plus, our brains would probably explode.

So how do we smooth out the wrinkles in our troubled relationship?

To start, I’m going to hassle my fellow designers on an oft-repeated point: know your code! I can’t stress how important it is for web designers to know HTML/CSS. Now, I know I just said it’s impossible (or at least highly unlikely) for anyone to be equally capable in design and development, so don’t shoot me down just yet. Would you want an architect to design a building without having ever taken an engineering course? Then how do you expect to design a website without understanding the capabilities and restrictions of building it? Even if you won’t be the one ultimately building out the website, you still need to know the rules.

Point number two: keep up with technology. I’m not just talking about owning a late-model smartphone, using CS6, and bragging about your SSD. What I’m talking about is web plugins, responsive design, and what’s up the sleeves of the people leading the industry. The incredible advancements that have been made in web typography in just the past 3 years are a testament to the importance of designers staying in the know.

Lastly, the easier you make your developer’s job, the easier he or she will make yours. Alyssa wrote last week about the trials and tribulations of redlines. Redlines, despite their tediousness and ability to inspire fits of profanity, make a developer’s job 10x easier AND make it 10x more likely that the final result will be just as the designer intended. They create a very clear accountability system, where both parties can be sure they are giving each other the right stuff.

2 Responses to “Have You Hugged Your Developer Today?”

  1. sree June 29, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    Sorry if this post is kinda long… Love your post! Not sure if this is what you meant, but by saying developers are more logical, are you kinda implying we’re also less creative? So I don’t completely understand the nuances of graphic design, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel that in general, a designer’s creativity can be seen directly by looking at his/her work. However, with a developer, the most creative part of some program might not always be its visual appeal or usefulness, but rather, an exquisite, perhaps “illogical”, piece of code (awesome idea/algorithm) that he/she wrote which most people won’t see. (btw, I do somewhat agree that developers tend to be more logical). If you have a few minutes to kill, this is a pretty interesting article (or at least I think so): http://www.paulgraham.com/hp.html . Lemme know what you think? Good luck with all your work!

    • Mel July 2, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Hi Sree! To clarify my point, I don’t see developers as being less creative than designers. Rather, I see them as being much more realistic about constraints – how to work with them, and how to get around them. Designers usually don’t have to deal with these constraints as directly as developers, so we can get a little fluffy-headed about things at times. I think there is a TON of creativity involved in development, and I’m slowly learning more about what that looks like.

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