I've received some interesting commentary on Item 0 in my 10 Things for Silverlight and WPF Developers
post. That item says to know your limitations, including when to
call in a "designer". (I'm using designer loosely here, it's a
graphics designer or ux pro. Often, those are the same people, or
highly related people working for the same org)
I contend that 99% of developers make terrible graphics
designers, and probably 95% of developers make terrible user
experience professionals. In my time as a consultant in
the industry and my role at Microsoft, I've met very very few
people who fall into that 1% and 5% respectively. In fact, I can
count them on a single hand.
Now, to be sure, this is completely anecdotal, based on my
experience and from talking with other developers. Oh, and from
looking at other developers' work :)
That said, almost every time a developer has shown me their
design work, it was far from what a "real" graphics designer and/or
ux professional would have come up with. Unfortunately, you often
can't tell that unless you see what professionals are doing and
just how much better it truly can be.
In the blog post comments, and on Twitter,
others have contended that every developer should be able
to be a designer and/or UX pro. I personally don't buy
that. It's like saying every developer should be able to play the
piano: sure, maybe you can play that intro to Jump, but can you
*really* play? Some can, but most can't, and most can't learn
regardless of how much training is provided.
Put another way, most of us can draw a face that would be
recognizable as a face. But the vast majority of us could not draw
a face that would be immediately recognizable as a specific person,
and almost none of us could draw a face that looks like a
relatively obscure person (one that hasn't had a zillion
caricatures already drawn and readily available). We simply do not
have that skill. While practice may make it possible to do
something decent, we'd still be unable to come up with new
representations, new styles, new patterns.
While I agree that the design and ux professions have similar
contents (well-understood patterns and practices), I do not
agree that being able to create a glossy button or attractive
gradient in Photoshop makes you a designer any more than being able
to drag a datagrid makes you a coder.
UX and graphics design are both much deeper disciplines than
what shows up on the surface.
I'm personally decent in UX (my concentration in
college was Human Computer Interaction, and I've had a strong
interest in it since Day 1), but I know I'm neither a UX pro no a
graphics designer. I stopped trying to fool myself into thinking
that long ago :)
So, what do you think? Do you think every developer is
capable of being a UX pro or graphics designer, and do you think
they should be?
Oh, and if you think you are capable, I demand screen
shots. Pic, or it didn't happen :)