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Web Designers: Don't expect to earn points by suggesting technology solutions.

Please don't get me wrong. Developers like designers who familiarize themselves with the technologies they are designing for. It saves time and energy, when first cut designs require little or no feedback from the development team. That said, dictating technology is a fast track to getting yourself removed from a developer's Holiday card list. This goes ten fold, if the suggestions are made without checking first in front of project stake holders.

So what do I mean? Imagine a scenario where you're in a meeting with a developer and the VP of eSolutions and he asks:

"What about mobile? I want to be able to see this thing on my iPhone!"

After cringing, the developer replies, "I'm not really sure about that. It may require some investigation." This is not your queue to shout out:

"...There's a module for that available in open CMS XYZ (which you happen to be using). I read about it just last week. It should be a snap to integrate."

And here's why:

  1. The module may be in beta
  2. It may be horrible code
  3. It may be the wrong base version of the software
  4. The VP may have been asking for an iPhone App, not a web app

Most importantly you may have just created a bunch more work that you aren't responsible for delivering.

So, if you are a designer who keeps up with technology, that's great. But keep in mind technology suggestions are much better when raised as technology *questions*. In the same way that developers shouldn't tell you the background color in a certain design should be red and not green, or that the font needs to be bigger - designers who want to stay on a developer's nice list should ask about technology, rather than dictating. And even that is best done back at the cubicle or behind closed doors.

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: March 19, 2010


Good information. So many web designers are pushy with this kind of thing.

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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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