In an earlier post, I said I was going to tell you about how there’s really only one downside to being a designer who can code. Well, here it is:

Ok, so no one has really said that to me out loud, but I think it’s pretty obvious that’s what people think. Otherwise, why would you not take advantage of having a designer who knows how to code? How? Well, let me give you a few suggestions:

  • Let the designer-coder work out the kinks of UI. UI development is hard. In any language. And unless you have specific people who were born/bred/educated to do UI development, chances are you’re just going to have a bunch of developers who feel more comfortable writing all the model/controller crud and none of the view stuff. Enter the designer-coder. Maybe she is someone who loves to fiddle with messy UI gorp and would jump at any opportunity to get messy with code. Swing/AWT? SWT? HTML/CSS? Android? XCode? Yes, please.
  • Let the designer-coder work on future prototype stuff. Developers don’t have time to work on extra stuff, especially when they have multiple simultaneous releases to worry about. If you need someone to go off for a couple of days and come back with a working prototype of something for future stuff, let the designer-coder go off and do that.
  • Let the designer-coder get together with other designer-coders and create reusable UI frameworks and widgets/controls/layouts/etc for developers to reuse everywhere, in all products of your company. Maybe they do this in other companies, but not where I work (at least for some products). Reuse across products is hard because every product has its own schedule and management style. By letting designers own the UI, we make them responsible for how things look and they can’t complain when things are pixel-perfect. Because they would be the ones in charge of it.

You’re probably wondering, if I want to do so much coding, why don’t I just become a UI developer? I’ve been there. The downside to being a developer who knows some design is almost as bad as being a designer who knows development…you just don’t have the full credibility of either side.

I know someday, somewhere, I’ll be appreciated for the misfit I am. It’s just a matter of time.