Monday, April 13, 2015

Geek vs. Chic

In the good old days, visual designers and software developers used to be different people. The designers had some training and experience in creating printed materials, or TV ads, or even screen layouts for computer software. The developers were the ones who knew how to write terse, indecipherable code to make it happen.

Unfortunately, a lot of companies didn’t realize there was such a thing as a designer, and they simply entrusted the job of creating their software’s look and feel to the engineers who wrote it. Of course, using a software interface designed by an engineer is a bit like attending an emotional therapy session led by Mr. Spock.

More recently, designers have become respected, even compensated members of technology product development teams. In some ways, the innovations of Apple and a few other companies have awakened the high-tech world to the startling idea of making products that people can use. Designers are even expected to be able to write code now, blurring the distinction between them and their engineer counterparts.

To counteract this, we offer this field guide to the different roles.

Trait Developer Designer
Style Geek Chic
Appearance Dresses like a slob Dresses like a slob … ironically
Approach Analyzes problems into distinct components, like models, views and controllers Synthesizes parts into whole user experience
Lunch pizza and Coke Artisanal flatbread pizza and craft brew
Afternoon Meeting Heated debate over using Swagger or JSchema to define the REST API Meticulously rendered flow diagrams on whiteboard
End of day Will code it in 2 days Paper prototypes next week, prototype testing next month, usability testing next quarter, ship in 2018