Should Developers do Design

CG - Software Development Director


2 years ago…

Over 2 years ago (and also our very first blog!), we wrote a little piece on should designers code websites.

We summarised that if you don’t need to learn to code, then don’t. Stick to your (design) strengths. Very bold and easy words from an agency of 2 staff, who each focus separately between development and design!

Its probably a good time to reflect on this, and also focus on it from the opposite side; should developers learn to design.

And now…

We’re no longer a team of 2, we’re triple the size in fact. This in itself plays an important influence on the subject. We have completed several projects now throughout our journey, some which were “developer” led, and others “designer” led.

Looking back, the developer-led projects we’re completed faster, but the very nature of a developer lead foundation tends to lean the solution being more data-driven. There is nothing particularly wrong with this, but it does come at a risk of not being as user centric as it could be.

In contrast, our designer-led projects took longer to build (were definitely more difficult to build from a data perspective!) but ultimately I feel have a better finished product. Part of a good designers tool kit is the ability to not just make it look good, but also flow well too (I’m not getting into UI vs UX, thats been done before).

So get to the point! I hear you! No, I don’t think its a particularly great idea for a developer to try and learn design. Our designers can make something look 10x better than me, in 1/10th the amount of time. It doesn’t make sense for me to compete or do their job. However, I think its really valuable when scaffolding and building the foundation of a new platform, to keep a little extra consideration to the UX / flow of an app (mainly from a sketch!) so that the when forces of dev and design meet in the middle, there isn’t as much refactoring involved.