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Help me build a product without a UI designer

I’m a developer. I don’t have many designers on my speed dial.

Over the last 2 years, I’ve worked with a dozen designers. Most of them for UI design help. I feel I suck at it. I haven’t found any good UI designer, especially because my network doesn’t have that many designers.

I recently started working with a designer though. But her role is not UI design. UI design is one of the things she does. But is more proficient in designing the intangibles — strategy, product decisions, communication. Very important, but my UI design department is falling short.

It was recently I decided to take things in my own hands.

I realized it’d be faster to get things done if I just learnt UI design myself.

There are a bunch of pros and cons associated with this


  1. I don’t have to hunt for a UI designer any more
  2. I don’t spend time in coordinating between the developer (me) and the designer
  3. I save money


  1. Design sucks. I’m not a good designer — yet.
  2. I spend more time on a design than it’d take for a seasoned designer.
  3. The designs aren’t out of the box. I am biased by the development effort. I think only about design I can easily code.

My biggest help in this direction has been Adam Wathan & Steve Schoger’s book — Refactoring UI. It’s a great book. It’s a cheat sheet. I just follow things from it blindly. My design has become some 2x better.

There’s still a lot of room for improvement.

I believe the fundamental reason why myself and many developer peers suck at design is how the education is structured. Engineering focuses on getting things done. Design focuses on delighting the users.

If you’ve been in this position before, I’d love your help!

How can a developer not suck at design?

What resources can I use to get better at design?

I’m writing a weekly blog about how I’m running my company in real life. Please do help me out if you think I can do something better! I’d love to discuss.

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Madhavan Malolan

Madhavan Malolan

CEO ; hacker

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