space to imajin

On designers, coders and all the rest….

Posted on: June 13, 2008

This is from a comment on a blog post I read today. The feelings though have been pent up for a loooong time.

I love the guys at 37 Signals. No truly I do. But like the Lakers (I was rooting for them) last night vs the Celtics after being so far ahead, they started to believe a bit too much of the hubris and are drinking a few cups too many of their own Kool-Aid. There are coders that can design, and designers that can code. There are architects like Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry that know how exactly their designs will be built. Does that mean they have to go out and build the darn thing?!?!?!!? I don’t think so!

The crew at 37 Signals are probably the best “masterbuilders” of our era but I do not believe it is always necessary for the designer to have to build/code. Photoshop, in their article, I believe is being a bit over-maligned as some sort of hocus-pocus concept builder that does nothing but present no ends of problems to the “engineers on site”. After graduating from the hallowed halls of architecture, this much I know. There have always been conflicts between the draughtsman and the builder, the architect and the engineer and now the designer and the coder, this has led to the merging of functions in web development. This is what 37 Signals has and it has served them incredibly well. But UI design, site architecture and all the rest is as important as the pixel perfect crafting of a design in Photoshop. This kind of argument leads to seeing the use of Photoshop or the other aspects of design as mere…decoration. The fluff after the heavy lifting has been done.

This ticks me off a bit.

Design, UI development and coding MUST go hand in hand from the get go. Beauty exists in code but it is not design!

For me coding is a high craft but my dear friends..it is not design. Design is more than aesthetics just as how code is more than integers and letters on a screen. Design is meaning. Meaning, believe it or not adds value. It heightens the experience (ever picked up an iPhone?) Also, design is more than meaning, it is the expression of the “one-ness” of a that which is created. There is no “fusion” of form and function. BULL!

They are the same.

Form is function and function is form.

When you listen to how Jonathan Ive describes in such succinct prose the creation of the iPhone or iPod from a manufacturing point of view then weaves in the user experience then how the whole is expressed with such eloquence in the resulting form you begin to understand just how design works.

There has always been a backlash from hard core coders that can design against all things WYSIWYG. In some regards it is deserved because there are many Photoshop jockeys that don’t understand how a site concocted in Photoshop will be built but on the other hand don’t whip the tool because the master abuses it. All tools have their place. TextEdit, CSS Editor BBEdit , Photoshop even the “lowly” iWeb – all have a place depending on the production workflow needed to get a specific site done. We as designers, developers and everyone in between just need to know how best and when to use them as needs be. THAT is what makes us professionals. Time to quit my rambling. Now…lets get back to work.

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2 Responses to "On designers, coders and all the rest…."

You make some great points, very nice write up.

As a designer and analyst, I often refer to myself as the “fluffy talk photoshop guy”. I deal with the feelings that are initiated within users (of the web and other mediums). I have a network of programmers that produce the backend code to ensure the user’s emotive response is confirmed through functionality.

It is a team game, each with their own qualities and expertise. I very much believe in the split between designers and developers, but their partnership from the sales process until the final deliverable is essential for success.

Again, great write up – thanks for the obvious effort in writing 🙂

Thanks Matt, well appreciated!!!

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