How do you explain what a designer does to a developer?

over 4 years ago from , Designer

I have a bit of a recurring issue at my current job where a few (not all!) developers don't seem to have much appreciation for design, and I'm trying to find the best way to explain the value of design to them - in their language.

An example of this is as follows: One developer has coded an interaction in one of our apps which they believe solved a problem.

I don't want to discourage everyone being involved in problem solving, but what they have created is a confusing experience, and once I pointed it out to them, they agreed that the interaction should have gone through the design team first.

This is a semi-frequent occurrence, and I feel that it comes down to me not having explained what it is I do very well. They still seem to feel that I colour in boxes and choose colours. (slight exaggeration, but you get my point)

Any help would be appreciated.


  • Tyson KingsburyTyson Kingsbury, over 4 years ago

    there can be a HUGE disconnect between 'it works' and 'it works well and is intuitive'

    Over the years, I've had plenty of interaction between myself (creative dept) and our developers.

    for the most part now, it runs very smoothly. but there's been hiccups along the way. mostly it involves good people skills to smooth folks over. Also, it helps to have an understanding of each other's strong points and weaknesses etc.... the strong point of the developer is the shear brain power it takes to do what they do. the engineering background...etc etc. the weakness there is that all the brain-power goes into the 'works' part...not much if any goes into the aesthetics, the UX or the elegance of a solution.

    it's easy to think 'we do all the hard part, you just slap the paint on at the end'...but we do WAAAAAY more than that. without our input, no matter HOW smart your coding is, NO ONE is going to use it. NO ONE. we put the human element into the equation. our task, and our expertise is to make all their hardwork transform into something a human can use, and will find intuitive, magical and addictive etc etc... sure, we use colour, we use fonts, images, spacing etc....but it's way more than just some unthinking decoration. it's the fucking layer the humans will actually touch. and when said humans 'think' about our software, THAT is what will be meaningful to them. what will either make them happy, or drive them away.

    it's a symbiotic relationship...no part is more important than the other...without them, we have no product...without us, they have no marketable or useable product.

    here's a tip. and i think it's a useful one.

    Lunch and learn.

    you may have them already, or maybe this is new to you.

    you host a lunch. both teams should do this...dev and design...you start first..

    you cater a lunch...get both teams together...bring in pizzas, beer, whatever...just feed everyone well..

    and then you give a presentation about 'design' what exactly you do...how you do it...the steps you take....dive deep...

    as an illustration, you show the example you just spoke about.... you show how things would have been different if the design team had done it's just first....and then you talk about hand-offs.... you open the door to the dev team and say, what about our methods works for you?...how would you like to see change?...what sort of materials and hand-off interaction would work best for your team?...

    then you have a Q&A and answer questions etc... then you speak quietly to the PM or head of the dev team and ask that they do likewise...set up a lunch and learn so that the design team can get some insight into how THEY work etc...

    1 point
  • Andu PotoracAndu Potorac, over 4 years ago

    "How do you explain the value of design to others?" - this question is answered by top 25 leaders in the design industry in the High Resolution podcast. Hence I just answered with 25 different perspectives. :)

    0 points