Category Archives: Product Design

We Don’t Need More Designers Who Can Code

A great excerpt from the Article “We Don’t Need More Designers Who Can Code“, by Jesse Weaver

“Saying designers should code creates a sense that we should all be pushing commits to production environments. Or that design teams and development teams are somehow destined to merge into one team of superhuman, full-stack internet monsters.

Let’s get real here. Design and development (both front end and back end) are highly specialized professions. Each takes years and countless hours to master. To expect that someone is going to become an expert in more than one is foolhardy.

Here’s what we really need: designers who can design the hell out of things and developers who can develop the hell out of things. And we need them all to work together seamlessly.

This requires one key element: EMPATHY.

What we should be saying is that we need more designers who know about code.

The reason designers should know about code, is the same reason developers should know about design. Not to become designers, but to empathize with them. To be able to speak their language, and to understand design considerations and thought processes. To know just enough to be dangerous, as they say.

This is the sort of thing that breaks down silos, opens up conversations and leads to great work. But the key is that it also does not impede the ability of people to become true experts in their area of focus.

When someone says they want “designers who can code”, what I hear them saying is that they want a Swiss Army knife. The screwdriver, scissors, knife, toothpick and saw. The problem is that a Swiss Army knife doesn’t do anything particularly well. You aren’t going to see a carpenter driving screws with that little nub of a screwdriver, or a seamstress using those tiny scissors to cut fabric. The Swiss Army knife has tools that work on the most basic level, but they would never be considered replacements for the real thing. Worse still, because it tries to do so much, it’s not even that great at being a knife”.

The first secret of design is … noticing!

I just finished watching this great talk from Tony Fadell, at TED this year. Tony is the Lead Product designer of the iPod and of the NEST Thermostat. This talk is thoroughly enjoyable and it does a great job of getting a simple  message across: why is Product Design and UX so important today?

Tony takes us through his design principles in the typical 18-minutes TED format. He does it with great passion and emotional intelligence. What is Habituation? Why do we get annoyed at problems and then stop caring? Why is it so important to notice the tiniest details? Why sometimes the solution involves taking a step back and looking at the problem together, as a whole? Why do we need to think like young people to get a fresh perspective?
It is great to see how Tony can deliver this message with superb simplicity and clarity.