How being a design oriented developer helps.
A developer / engineer is a person who builds stuff. Stuff that makes sense, stuff that is elegant, stuff that may seem unreal, stuff that looks great and stuff that does not break (well, not always at least :P).
More often than not I come across developers who are so focused on stuff not breaking or crashing that they forget; forget that whatever it is they are building has to make sense to the user. The experience should be out-of-this-world. If we developers put in a little more mind to it, we’ll realize that the end users are just like us, normal people. We can build so much amazing stuff if we just keep that in mind.
The point I’m getting to is that developers need to move away, maybe a little bit from the box of tech and “How we’ll code it”. We should rather start our thought process from thinking about the outcome, how the end user is going to perceive it. That is when we might have to choose from some hard options; options that would not be very straight forward for us to develop, maybe not as tech-elegant, maybe not as easy. But we should be doing it to enhance the experience.
I’ll put forth a simple example:
Consider these two components
The differences between the two can be clearly seen. In spite of that it is very easy for a developer to ignore these subtleties and move on. These are the things that culminate and help make or break your product. Yes, it is your product because at the end of the day we are the people who are building it. We must have a sense of ownership, which I feel is missing in a huge number of developers.
Developers also need to understand that it is okay to question design. It is okay to talk to your designer. If you think a user flow or something should be a little, or entirely different, or it seems pointless, go talk to your designer. If you are working for someone or some organization which prohibits you from questioning design and you still plan on staying. Don’t.
My point is organizations, managers or whoever should somehow sensitize developers towards design. We need it because a lot of us do not come from any artsy background or do not have that kind of design intuition because of our technical thought process. Hence, sometimes some design decisions may seem pointless to us, which actually aren’t. Maybe a little design workshop, a meetup, a small two-day course. Whatever works. “Let’s just do whatever they say and get it over with” and “Why should I care?”, the moment thoughts like these cross a developer’s mind, know that your product is doomed. For good.
Designers get to do a lot of swanky stuff like the one below. It might be pretty hard to develop, but if this adds some much needed oomph to your product. Then it should be exciting and fun for us to be able to execute it.
A very talented designer once said “Design is important in modern day tech, although it is definitely possible to ship a product with next to no design. But in this day and age of competition, users will always turn to the website, app or tool which provides the best UX.”