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Web Sites, Philadelphia, and the Ruminations of a Small Business Owner

The president of Brio Solutions comments on Web Design in Philadelphia, business, technology, and the world in general.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Art of Logic – a tug of war between designers and developers

In the web/software industry, there is an inherent conflict between designers and developers.

A designer, who is responsible for the way the site looks, and the user’s experience, is the creative force, the artist, the right brain, and wants to add every shadow, rounded corner, floating image, and (insert any other special effect here) that contributes to the user’s experience on the site. The designer should be constantly thinking of the user, asking “How will the user feel when they use my site? Is it easy to navigate? Can the user find what they are looking for? Is there proper emphasis placed on priority items?”

The developer, on the other hand, is responsible for the functionality and performance of the site, not to mention the arduous task of translating the designer’s piece of art to three or more browsers. The developer is rooted in logic, carefully deconstructing every piece of the site into blocks of code. The developer should be constantly thinking of performance. “How will the computer interpret my code? Is the site fast? Is the site scalable?”

Therein lays the conflict; one party concerned with the end user, and one party concerned with the computer. This is music to my ears…this is actually a GREAT THING. The result is two forces pulling hard in, quite often, opposite directions, which leaves the client with a perfect balance of design and functionality.

At Brio, we make sure those two forces are present on each project. We do that by putting passionate designers and developers on the same team right from the beginning.
Too often, I meet someone in my industry that claims to be a designer AND developer…… Now I know that many developers know how to use Photoshop, but that doesn’t make them designers any more than me knowing how to drive my Volvo makes me a race car driver. And the same is true with designers, when they tell me they know how to use Dreamweaver (which is a common web development tool).

If I were building a house, I would hire an Architect to design the house and a builder to construct it. I would not let my architect start swinging a hammer; and I would not let my builder design my entire house. Maybe as the web industry matures, it will be understood by all, that design and development are COMPLETELY different disciplines. Until then, watch out for those designer/developers because you know there is a lot of fighting going on in that head of theirs. And when the fight is over, the client turns out to be the loser.

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