I consider myself primarily a designer. I am a designer first and foremost because that’s where my passion comes from and I think my development skills helps my design work. I appreciate art, I strive to create art and I enjoy designing for a purpose. That’s what I think our role as designers are – to use our creativity for a purpose. The role of the designer also tends to be varied in our industry. Web design often involves understanding technologies and how things are built as well as thinking and strategizing around how people use your products and how people interact with the web. For many projects I also implement and develop my designs myself so often times I’m also the developer.
I began as a developer so I know a thing or two about computing and software development. Knowing how to execute and implement my designs is a huge plus! I know that what I design will be executed the way I see it in my head. I know what it takes to implement designs. That has helped me to be a better designer.
As a designer, I know what can be done, what the restrictions might be, and ultimately what the user experience can be or should be. My development background allows me to have in-depth discussions with developers on implementation issues. I can empathize with their experience building my designs because I know what that development entails. On the flip side, I know that if I’m implementing a design that is intended to be a certain way, it’s important to keep the integrity of the design. There are a lot of decisions and considerations that were made throughout the design process that are important for the product and the user experience and whenever possible, the implementation should adhere to that.
A designer-developer has the skills and the know-how to be able to approach the project or problem in different ways. They have the ability to empathize with the rest of your team and be able to put themselves in another persons shoes. As someone who is new to user experience design I know that empathy is one of the most important skills you can have. I’m not saying designers who aren’t developers or developers who aren’t designers don’t have empathy. I think designer-developers have that built into them because of their knowledge and their work. It’s important to bring that empathy out not just as it relates to their team but as it relates to the users that they’re designing or building for.