Designer Life #5: Why Developers Hate Designers👩💻🤬👩🎨
And how to get along with them
Designer life is a collection of learnings and stories based on real-life experiences of product designers. What is written may or may not resonate with you. Please take it with a grain of salt 🧂👌
On my first job as a product designer, I’ve had lots of hard times working with developers. Things like APIs, firing the listener, OTA, and “Let me switch to that Branch”, were all novel to me. It sounds alien.
As for the developers, listening to the designers talking about wireframes, usability tests, and the difference between UI and UX made them squint. I didn’t even have the heart to tell them about the double diamond thing.
Back then we didn’t enjoy working with each other — it was a pain on both of our asses. However, we finally managed to find a better way to work together.
Here are 4 reasons why we couldn’t work together and how to fix em.
1. We don’t speak the same language
How to fix: Communicate better by speaking their language
To communicate better with developers, we need to be able to have a proper conversation with them. To do that, you need to understand their language.
Speaking with Android Developers
The easiest way is to refer to Material Design every time you need to have a conversation with them. All the components, guidelines, specs, and terms are there — they will always have faith in Material Design documentation.
Speaking with iOS Developers
Check out Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines. Unfortunately, Apple’s HIG is not as comprehensive as Material Design. However, it is still the best reference to learn about designing for iOS.
If that is not enough, install Xcode on your Mac and play around with it. You will have access to every iOS component available. You can even design and create quick prototypes in Xcode using Storyboard!
Speaking with Front End Devs
Speaking with Other Devs
There might be lots of different job description for developers in your company. To better understand the technical terms and the technical process in your company, it’s best to learn from the Product Manager.
Product managers have a holistic understanding of the overall development process, and they surely would be able to share the knowledge with you.
2. We design without their consent
How to fix: Include them early in the design process
Include the developers as early as in the wireframing phase. Ask them for feedback and let them try out the prototype. Discuss what is possible and what’s not possible to develop — let them take part in the decision making process.
This forms mutual benefits for both you and the developer:
- You both had agreed on the design, so the dev will be less likely to say: “Hey, this is impossible to implement”.
- The developer will more likely to do the same with you. If something went wrong they will ask for your feedback, and not decide on it without your consent.
- They will back you up if someone disagrees with the design solution.
3. We don’t empathize with developers
How to fix: Be considerate and empathize with them
Make them understand that you don’t just think about yourself, but also their interest. This usually results in an understanding between you and the developers. They will also ask you nicely if they need something to be fixed quickly.
Empathize when you want to request something
Like us, they have deadlines too. Before you tell them to do anything, ask them about their availability and the effort needed to do the complex interaction you designed. Let them know if there is no time to do it, you can adjust the design to fit their timeline or have a further discussion with the PM.
Empathize when they disagree with you
Before you say something, listen to their reasons. Try to understand where they are coming from and don’t jump into conclusions. Have a discussion, not an argument — converse to gain mutual agreements, not wins or losses.
4. We don’t get personal
How to fix: Be nice, be good, be their friend
Most of the time, it’s just as simple as being nice. Working with a friend is better than working with a coworker who’s just as good as an acquaintance.
As for me, I used to work with a software engineer. Now I am working with my fiancée. I would say, sometimes things may get too personal.
Whichever tips you tried, I hope you learned something from this article. These tips are based on our experience as a product designer as well as some rants from the devs I know.
Developers don’t hate designers, they just need to be understood.