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Design has a big impact on web development

You know that button on the website you want to change? The one that looks like it was designed in 1999? Guess what? It was designed in 1999 - and so was the underlying technology.

Occurrences like this are far too common, not just in regard to legacy technology but also with designs that need to be overlayed over existing technologies (Content Management Systems, development frameworks, etc). Every complex piece of technology has its own way of doing things and unless you are building everything from scratch (which has its own challenges!) you'll probably need to build around something.

So what's a designer to do?

  1. Learn about the Framework/CMS
  2. Lean on your developer to give you honest feedback and ideas

Learn about the Framework/CMS

Ask for an out of the box install of the CMS that you can play around with. This will give you time to play around with things and maybe even look under the hood to see how things are put together.

Lean on your developer for feedback and ideas

You'll want a developer who will catch the things that you might miss and bring them to your attention. This is indicative of a developer who cares about the project's success. Ideally a developer will bring up these issues in a respectful tone and offer helpful suggestions on how you might achieve similar results in a quarter of the time - but that's the ideal situation.

The reality is the developer may scoff at the design choices or be abrasive with their presentation. If you can get past that, you can often find common ground by asking for feedback on how you can makes things more efficient and being prepared to make some changes. It may require meeting in the middle, but ultimately both sides will benefit from a project that is conscious of development hours and at the same time brings the design experience home for the users.

In the spirit of better designer/developer relations, this post is part of a top 5 list of tips for designers working with developers:
  1. Design has a huge impact on project cost.
  2. It can be tough to be the last person to touch something.
  3. Developers think of design as black magic.
  4. Don't expect to earn points by suggesting technology solutions.
  5. Developers do have a horse in the race.

I'll be looking at each of these items in turn and talking about them in detail in a blog post over the next five weeks.

Date posted: February 12, 2010


Good advice, the first few steps for a redesign can be so tedious, but once you have a plan of attach and a great team of developers and designer who understand each other, you're golden.

Nailing down what the client wants can be a challenge sometimes, but I've found discovering the fundamentals of the new redesign in the initial stages solves that problem. Or at least helps a lot!

I'm a developer by trade. Personally, I've found the best solution to this issue is to provide a simple list, using non technical language, of areas of concern within a design. I find designers, especially less experienced ones, fail to understand that a site is not simply "flat", but something that can change.

I also encourage designers to plan for those extra pages they don't first envisage. For instance, pages that require a different layout and even 404 pages.

I am a working as web developer. I have found the best result to this concern is to provide a simple list, using non technical language of areas of issue within a design.

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About the Author

Joaquin Lippincott, CEO

Joaquin is a 20+ year technology veteran helping to lead businesses in the move to the Cloud. He frequently speaks on panels about the future of tech ranging from IoT and Machine Learning to the latest innovation in the entertainment industry.  He has helped to modernize software for industry leaders like Sony, Daimler, Intel, the Golden Globes, Siemens Wind Power, ABC, NBC, DC Comics, Warner Brothers & the Linux Foundation.

As the CEO and Founder of Metal Toad, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, his primary job is to "get the right people in the room".  This one responsibility is cross-functional and includes both external business development functions as well as internal delegation and leadership development.

A UCLA alumni, he also serves in the community as a Board Member for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, and Stand for Children Oregon - a public education political advocacy group. As an outspoken advocate for entry-level job creation in tech he helped found the non-profit, P4TH, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of entry-level jobs in the tech industry, and is in the process of organizing an Advisory Board for the Bixel Exchange, a Los Angeles non-profit that provides almost 200 tech internships every year.


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