A DevSigner — Why you need to hire one for your Design Team

You’ve spent countless hours designing and building a ‘great app or website’. It just so happens to look and feel like every other site out there. Static, boring, underwhelming and frankly, not memorable. You do have a Design Team, a team of very talented designers, who do epic work… but the end product is just an also-ran. Just bleh. Why’s that? You’re missing a very critical hire on your design team. You need a DevSigner!

Who’s a DevSigner?

A DevSigner is a Developer with an eye for Design. Or, a Designer with some Development skills that can span across the two skillsets. In some circles, they’re known as Unicorns or Prototypers. And here’s why this is important.

When you have basic knowledge of the platform you’re designing for, you create a basic user experience.

Most designers spend their working days working in environments such as Adobe Photoshop, Fireworks, Illustrator, InDesign, Sketch, and several of these wonderful products that Digital Creatives love to use. Whether they’re creating mockups or wireframes for websites, mobile apps or other type of software, designers are far removed from the advanced features of the platforms they’re designing for.

This knowledge of the core capabilities of these platforms, usually lives with developers. Unfortunately, Developers are busy working on their sprint tasks, fixing bugs, etc to be too bothered with the nitty gritty details of the User Experience portion — that’s what the design team is for.

So there’s this disconnect, where some of the powerful features of the platform, be it the browser, or native mobile environments, go unused because the designers may not know about these features.

Without this knowledge, designers create a basic product, a basic mobile app, with basic features, and basic user experience. Your product doesn’t stand out from the crowd. It looks and feels the same as hundreds or thousands or other apps out there.

What the DevSigner brings

The DevSigner can be the one that could potentially push the design of the product beyond the basic layer. He’s armed with very technical knowledge of the capabilities of the platform to inform and enhance the user experience.

Think of what your website or app could feel like if you tapped into advanced capabilities such as offline user cases for mobile users, geolocation, push notifications, network detection, advanced media queries, web sockets for real-time features, etc. The possibilities become endless!

Some roles of a DevSigner could involve:

  1. Building realistic prototypes in HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, or in native code beyond just static photoshop comps
  2. Giving business users and stakeholders a chance to “feel” the product and provide early feedback during the design and concepting phase
  3. Helping to add rich interactivity and animations to what otherwise would be very static comps or wireframes to add that extra touch and delightful feel
  4. Helping developers implement some of the rich interactivity that the design team cooks up through styling, creating style guides, documentations, etc
  5. Being able to speak the developers’ language could help to ease some of the frustrations that can arise between Devs and Designers during the implementation phase

Some big players using DevSigners

Lots of companies are investing in the concept of DevSigners on their User Experience teams. Some teams at Google, Microsoft, Apple and several other places are tapping into this to deliver very rich experiences.

Google’s Material Design is a very great example of the great collaboration between Designers and Developers working together to bring very rich and impressive design and interactivity to Android and also to the web, so users get a very consistent experience across all Google properties and products.

Some of this material design goodness can be seen in Google’s latest “email killer” product Inbox by Gmail.

Final words

If you’re serious about taking your user experience to the next level, and tapping into the powerful capabilities of your product’s platform to deliver the ultimate experience, invest in a DevSigner and watch your designs go from bleh to BAM!

By Noah Addy

Noah is a User Experience Architect and Software Developer with specializations in E-Commerce, Industry Trends, Responsive Design, Content & Social Media Strategies

Please follow me on Twitter: @UXNoah