Mobile | Web :: Developers <=> Designers

Developers and Designers need each other and need to work together. (duh.)
All of the super exciting internet / computer eco-systems of the last 15 years have had developers and designers involved together as a tight team: HTML/CSS – Web Standards, Ruby on Rails, Django, Mac OS X, the iPhone app world, etc.
By exciting eco-system, I mean that the platform, device, or system has grown beyond the company or small core group of folk who created/originated the system, a growing that goes beyond all the usual vendors for the company/core to take a life of its own in a wide range of design & development professionals and hobbyists who expand the ecosystem to a dynamic space that is much greater than any marketing budget could every afford or create.
This is definitely the case of the Open Source LAMP proponents, the HTML/CSS web standards folk, the Ruby on Rails & Django communities that have had designers working with developers from the very beginning. By dint of Apple’s penchant for design, designers have been on board fully with developers to expand the iPhone and Mac OS X applications and universe.
While I love using Android and Symbian mobile devices, it has recently become glaringly obvious to me that both of these communities don’t have the same co-working / symbiotic relationships with the design community that the above eco-systems have. Yes, Google and Nokia/Symbian can afford high end designers, but what about the community outside of Google, Nokia, Symbian, and their paid vendors?
The Google I/O conference while multiple thousands strong in developers, programmers, and business dev folk, was very poor in terms of designers and any integration thereof.
Android and Symbian dev folk, we need to get designers on board in teams working together from the very beginning of projects to get the eco-system more than just aesthetically pleasing but also to balance the platforms to think outside of the dev/programming box and to grow the eco-systems dynamically as well as spread the goodness.
Design is more than aesthetics, it is an essential part of of balancing the right & left brains as well as the needs of the creators with the consumers. By creating a space for both designers and developers in teams, at conferences, and getting the dialogue moving between both communities means that we build balance applications, devices, and web systems that are usable and delightful.
To grow our communities, to build great apps we need to think of the disciplines of design and development as feeding into each other – feeding ideas, cross polinating, cooperation, and coordination.
Design + Development = Developers <=> Desingers
Ok, Nokia / Symbian and Google / Android, let’s figure out how to get more designers and design thinkers involved in community based projects from the ground up. Let’s start with design tracks at your sponsored conferences and meet ups between developers and designers at the conferences, why don’t we?
Or even better, why don’t we all agree to meet up and have a Android / Symbian conference to cross-pollinate between platforms and invite designers of all stripes (web, mobile, interaction, and user experience) to join us?
Update: Sun 07.26.09 – To clarify, I wrote this post because there has been much talk amongst tech bloggers and early adopters that the reason that folks are buying the Apple iPhone is because of the App Store and not buying Nokias or Android phones due to the poor showings on their app stores. I think this point is debatable, as most of the folks I know who purchase phones find out about the App Stores after purchase, not as a point to purchase.
But I do think it is instructive for those of us who are tech folk/early adopters and|or professional developers|designers to examine the web and mobile communities that have been successful, of which my point was that the communities that are growing organically without millions of dollars of advertising & subsidies from the companies behind the technologies are the communities where both developers and designers are both excited about and actively participating in.
To this end, I think that it would benefit Nokia’s Symbian community and Google’s Android community to draw in more User Experience | User Interface | and good old school Designers. At this point, both of these communities are programmer|engineer heavy. As Mike M. states in the below comment, designers & design thinkers bring an equal set of different skills that are absolutely necessary to the web & mobile site|app|software development process.
To Answer a Few Folk on Twitter: I don’t think that Apple has their mental market share amongst designers due to their TV advertising. I know more top end designers who are working on Ruby on Rails and Django projects than Apple iPhone projects with developers. It is not just about big money, but where is it exciting and challenging to create. A place to create where one can make a difference, prototype quickly, and also make money as well.

One thought on “Mobile | Web :: Developers <=> Designers

  1. Again, AMEN!
    Years ago I worked for a dot-com and our UI sucked. We had a great graphic designer, but that person was not a UI designer, and it showed in our app. I tried to bring in a UI designer, but everybody literally attached me because they were telling me that I had it in for the graphic designer, which was the furthest from the truth.
    This was almost a decade ago, and still many people don’t get it. I partner with an awesome designer on my projects, and it’s not simply where I code and she designs separately. She has taught me enough about design to be dangerous, and I have taught her enough about code for the same on her end. It brings out lively conversations and in the end we are working towards the goal of a fully-functional, user-friendly app. It’s simply beautiful.
    But not everbody gets it. In the meantime, we have to hold our ground and tell people what they’re missing out on!

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