Can Play Well with Others

I’ll be presenting, for the last time, a presentation about the designer-developer dynamic entitled Can Play Well with Others at FITC Amsterdam this upcoming week. I have yet to post thoughts or ideas that drive this presentation, so I figured I’d throw them down alongside some links for various workflow tools, ideas etc. This presentation isn’t intended to suggest the best workflow options for teams, but is meant more as in introspective look at this relationship, point out common issues, suggest some tools, approaches that might help resolve that.

In Defense of Design

I admit. I was one of those people who reduced design to nothing more than “pretty pictures”. Its not that I never appreciated great design – its just that I underestimated the process that drives a design. Dismissing the importance of design, means that I was dismissing the importance of the role of a designer, and particularily a good interactive designer on a team. Yes, I have wronged, and wronged others, I have seen the light – but it has taken this developer some time to come to a point where I don’t see design as something separate from development. That’s not to say that all developers are designers or designers developers- but fostering a mutual appreciation for each other skill sets is fundamental to a good working dynamic. I’m always astounded by how something could be technically so simple, yet without a good design, the simplicity becomes something people detest rather than appreciate. We’ve all seen those interfaces that look like some developer went to town in MS Paint – any interface for managing your routers immediately come to mind for example.

Software design concept image with business icons and

Design is important. It is more than pretty pictures. Design, simply, is not decoration. And this becomes even more integral when dealing with interactive design. A good design is not just about esthetics. When a developer says ” this just needs to be skinned” in many ways, they have just reduced design to the pretty picture implementation. Shame on us, really. Perhaps great design goes under appreciated because most people can’t digest its full value if its not immediately self-evident.

Developers and designers are different but not in the ways that most people categorize them. To dismiss design as nothing as making pretty pictures is as offensive as suggesting that a developer is not “creative” or even better not “a creative”. This becomes evident when you see companies that define their divisions this way – the developer is isolated from the designer, neither are given responsibility for the success of the project as a whole, just their sides- and an invisible line has been drawn in the sand and the interactive civil war has begun. Something that is not pretty, not necessary and doesn’t always require toolsets to resolve.