The following is an email I sent to coworkers at projekt202, about how designers/developers can (should?) work well together. I figured it's worth sharing.
(Subject: “How [Having Less Time] Made Me a Better Programmer”)
I thought this was an interesting (brief), blog post worth sharing.http://johnpolacek.com/2013/03/24/how-getting-married-and-having-kids-made-me-a-better-programmer/
The actual title of this post is…
"How Getting Married and Having Kids Made Me a Better Programmer"
…But, whether someone is married (or has kids) or not isn't really the point.
Basically, he talks about how his brain dissects problems (unconsciously), even when he's not actively working on solving them. Having a family simply means he has less time to spend at a computer, so he has to noodle on things passively.
I can attest to this. Sometimes I'll be working at home in the evening, stuck on a code problem that I just want to "power through."
Getting up from my desk and doing something mindless (like watching Parks and Recreation
) actually helps untie that "mental muscle" knot. Or, I'll be brushing my teeth, and I'll tell my wife:
"I think I just hit my brain stem, because I have an idea!"
So, getting to the point of my email…
Lately I've been trying to figure out a way to articulate why I think it's important for UI developers to be involved further upstream in projects, even if that just means being "a fly on the wall" when designers are talking to clients.
This blog post was an "aha moment" for me.
It's not so much that all visuals need to be 100% vetted (from a technical standpoint). But the scenario of not having enough lead time — not having all the pieces to a UX problem to unconsciously chew on — makes for a more haphazard UI coding experience.
I'm sure that server-side developers (aka real "developers," sans front-end/UI job prefix) can probably also attest to this as well.
Seeing more/all permutations of front-end templates they'll be expected to "wire up" affords a certain peace of mind. When the phase of a project is reached where it's time actually do the UI/data integration work, they've had ample time to be thinking about it already.
This past week (at the risk of seeming rude), I basically invited myself to a meeting at which +Mike Townson
was the key p202 attendee. Mike is the designer on the project, redesigning functionality of a client's desktop app for the iPad.
Once I realized that meeting was to take place, and since I was already at the client's office, I wanted to make sure I sat in. Seeing how their "legacy" system worked ahead of time will inevitably help me better understand the rationale behind Mike's forthcoming designs (that I'll eventually be coding).
Anyway, I'd love to see p202 have a more collaborative workflow, and for us to strike "throw it over the wall" from our collective vocabulary.
I leave you with this slide from a talk I gave several years ago, depicting stereotypical perceptions of designers/developers…http://www.slideshare.net/nathansmith/striking-a-balance-middle-ground-in-frontend-development-presentation/6
I think when there's more communication/visibility on a project, designers and developers are less likely to stereotype one another.