Should Developers Design?


Two recent articles on Hacker News hit close to home for me. The first post linked to a goal-tracking app for iOS that received many positive comments for its very clean and intuitive user interface. The second post was a link to a blog post titled Don’t look for a UX guy, be a UX guy.

I also have a goal-tracking app for iOS, one that uses default iOS controls, basic fonts/color schemes and focuses on function over form. Guess which one I’m now using on my iPod?

UI/UX is hard to get right and seems mystical to us non-designers. My first instinct is to get code working and tack on the UI so it conforms to the implementation decisions I’ve made. But if empathy for users is the goal, this process is exactly backwards.

I certainly want to improve in this area, but the left side of my brain just doesn’t want to concede any ground to the right side. Why spend time learning design skills when I can learn a new programming language or new web framework?

One resource I have found helpful is Bootstrap from Twitter. Bootstrap provides a basic layout template along with several styled controls/icons to use for web development.

Also, at one time or another, I’ve seen the following books recommended for learning UI/UX:

Alas, these books still sit in my Amazon wish list unread. I really do want to get to them but first I need to finish that book on Erlang, continue experimenting with Backbone.js and …

Maybe I’ll just leave design to the experts.

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