If there were as many UI design tools as there were for architects and builders the world would look entirely different

I typically get up around 5:20AM and I am on the road a little before 6. There is free coffee at the check-in counter, I have my plans rolled up. There are four sets and they each weigh roughly around 6 pounds each. Even though I am 5'4', I hold them under one arm and can manage with a free hand, signing in, grabbing a cup of decaf (I am one of those extra sensitive types) and I take my seat. My number at 6:18AM is 134. I will be here until 2PM. This is the permitting office for the City and County of Denver, my home away from home (yes in 2018).

I have this dual life between real estate development and web design. I have done both since I was 8. Web designers aren’t really called web designers anymore but rather UI designers and builders aren’t really called builders either, rather developers, sharks or mongrels. Every day I hear about 11 or so different titles for what I do and I have two cards that still hold on to outdated terms under my name — “web designer” for one, and “land developing services” for the other.

There’s only one difference between the two careers. I make similar income with each and I basically act as a psychologist as I let each party discuss their sets of priorities while I shed light on what is standard and what really isn't. The only difference between the industries is that web design (again, now called UI Design (with an upper case)…) has drastically changed as an industry releasing newer and newer tools while the other industry has been for the most part stagnate. — And more tools means more skill sets, different roles, more intricate details and research in design strategies. It leads for making the industry advance, get more detailed. It leads to specialization.

While there is basic specialization for the architecture and construction space, titles have stayed the same for over 60 years. Roles are not defined deep enough either. You have a window installer whom is usually the sales guy or a plumber maybe a junior plumber but it ends there.

Deep specialties are difficult to master (requires a lot of discipline) but are best for any industry to evolve and the tools we use today facilitate specialization. Talking to a UI Designer I help mentor on The Designership, she said to me yesterday, “I am completely lost — there are so many tools out there and everyone is saying I need to get ready for Invision Studio because it will change everything, but I haven’t even mastered Photoshop, Sketch or XD”. I tell her, “not everyone needs to know all of these tools, maybe make yourself a specialist (say, mobile UI designer, or mobile UX prototyper)”. The design industry relies heavily on the inspiration of other specialists. The Dribbble and Behance inspiration has been a great use-case example of prototyping our little hearts out. It is quite inspiring to see the gradients, rounded buttons, illustration of people without faces and animated bikes — Think for a second if there was a Dribbble for Construction or engineers, heavy civil dirt work — wouldn't looks sexy to us, but think about the impact. Think about if there were as many UI design tools as there where for architects and builders, the world would look entirely different. An Invision for design plans that actually worked or a Figma for creating CAD drawings and cut sheets.

There is starting to be. Applause goes to Autodesk, Trimble and Rhino for trying and even more there are tiny “celebrations” for updates for the new technologies produced by Deere, Komatsu, Topcon, AGTEK and paper shuffling software made by Viewpoint, Procore and PlanGrid but each one of their business models falls short of economies of scale and demand. Simply they are extremely expensive because there are few players in the space.

There needs to be more “UI designers” to be entangled in daily processes within architecture, building, and construction. Your cities need it, your inspectors need it, your pipe layers need it and I, waking up at 5 to get to the counters by 6 would love to send these 24lb plans in digitally.

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