Lazy developers


I started work a few weeks ago on a project with Leisa Reichelt, a very talented UX designer who organises UX Bootcamp workshops (among many other things). I had the pleasure of teaching on a couple of her Prototyping in Code workshops, where designers who want to learn HTML and CSS build prototypes in the browser.

Leisa set up the UX Bootcamp workshops to help her learn new skills alongside others. Specifically, she wanted to learn how to speed up prototyping by being able to build straight away in the browser, rather than passing wireframes to a developer.

So when I see tweets like this pop up in my stream, I feel a bit frustrated.

No doubt I'm reading this too literally. No doubt it's taken out of context, and shortened to fit into Twitter's character limit. And no doubt the person who said it just wanted to make a larger point in a funny way. But the attitude is something I've seen many times before, and it really bothers me.

Yes, I guess being able to argue intelligently with lazy developers is one of the benefits, but not the only one and it shouldn't be the motivation. Having a designer who understands the language that the medium they're designing for is built in is empowering not only to the individual, but also useful for the team. If the designer is able to collaborate on code, they have the option to make quick changes rather than asking someone else to make them.

Same with the developer. Rather than go back to the designer every time I need a style for an error message or some text for the 404 page, I put my designer hat on and give it my best shot. The more I improve my design skills, the less time we spend going back and forth, and the more time I can spend worrying about stuff like browser testing and optimisation.

Take this project I'm working on with Leisa for example. We have all the files on Github. Leisa draws some really rough sketches with a sharpie and explains what she wants me to make, and I build a prototype of it in HTML and CSS. I commit what I've done, and she updates her local copy. Rather than stand behind me and say "Could you move that up a bit? Could you change that bit of text?", she opens up Coda and makes as many of the tweaks she can herself while I start work on the next thing she's drawn me. It means we're working much faster than if we were only working within the perceived boundaries of our roles, and we're both learning, which is fun.