Developers and UX Designers, a love that dare not speak its name…but it really should

Developers and UX Designers, a love that dare not speak its name…but it really should

Coming from a development background, from an old school development house, I have encountered a lot of varying responses to UX Design from previous colleagues. And there have been some stark contrasts, from total acceptance and buy in, to a complete disregard for the importance of upfront validated design.

To me, I never could understand why a developer wouldn’t want their objectives validated and tested rigorously before starting work, as there is nothing more annoying than compiling that final bit of code you’ve been working on and the end user coming along and going “well that’s not what I asked for”.

So why the animosity? There’s lots of comparisons that can be drawn here to help explain my point a little bit better.

Think of the process of constructing a new building, you have multiple people involved, and you have lots of different specialities to complete the project, and none can function without the other.

The UX Designer, in this case, can be thought of as the architect. They’ve spoken with the client, they’ve surveyed the site and the surrounding area so they know what needs to be done and what style of building is required. They are thinking long term, and are involved throughout the process to make sure that the client’s requirements are always being met. However, if they aren’t aware of the time it takes for a builder to put the walls and roof together, then how can the architect be expected to give a proper estimate of timescales?

The Developer can be thought of as the builder, putting the bricks and mortar together to finish that final product, and wants the plans as quickly as possible so he can complete the job on time. However, if the plans aren’t ready and starts work anyway, concrete is a lot harder to work with once it has set! Sledgehammers are going to be required and it’s going to get messy.

This brings me on to my main point; these 2 separate roles rely on each other to survive. It is not a linear process. The development feeds into UX and UX feeds into development. Or at least I think they should.

My development background helps me immensely when I am wire framing a new product, as I can look at a design and start breaking it down into what I know are chunks of HTML or whatever language is being used to create the end product. This then makes it far easier for me to explain to developers how the system is going to be laid out, as I can explain it in chunks and in terms that are natural to them.

My UX background helps when I’m developing, as it reminds me to be constantly testing throughout the process, to make sure that I’m not losing sight of that end game.

Jen Hennings, is an Experience Architect at Akendi, a firm dedicated to creating intentional experiences through end-to-end experience design. To learn more about Akendi or user experience design, visit www.akendi.com.

 

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