Something I often see on the internet, and especially in reference to WordPress is the discussion about the difference between a designer and a developer. Why does it matter? Even though the skills for each role overlap a lot, it is unusual to find someone who is good at both. I do think there is a key skill which designers are better at than developers, but I will come back to this in a minute. First I would like to share an experience with you.
Twitter is an amazing tool for communicating small knowledge bites of information and a succinct way of sharing ideas. However sometimes these ideas are more complex than can be expressed in the limited amount of text you can put in a tweet.
For example I was in a conversation with a number of developers and designers, about the designer/developer question. I came to the conversation late but I put my thoughts in a tweet. I said that I thought the difference between a developer and designer was that a designer sees a problem from a UI perspective and a developer sees things more from a functionality perspective.
One of the designers in the conversation pointed out that the UI is only a part of the design solution, and immediately I could see that the designer was correct, and I had been too narrow in my thoughts.
So I went away and thought about it and I think the key difference between a developer and a designer is the ability to create a visual destination.
Now I’m not a designer, although I have crafted more than a few UI’s in my time. But these have been very functional in nature. So what I think of as a visual destination is very much open to discussion.
A visual destination, in my mind, is not just the UI. It’s about bringing together all the visual elements that an organisation will use to communicate it’s identity. So this will include the visual look and feel of a website and the decision if an organisation even needs a website. But more than that, a visual destination should also include an organisation’s stationery, letterheads, logos, business cards, bill boards and other marketing material. Anything that is used to promote and market the organisation, in fact right down to the URL of the organisation’s website.
So does this make developers second citizens? Not at all. In my experience those people who have the skills to make good designers do not have such a flair for those skills required to be a good developer and the same applies the other way around. There is a lot of overlap but there is room for both specialisations in the very large world of WordPress. I will go into what I think the developer role is in a later post.
I would love to know what you think? Am I talking rubbish or do you have similar experiences? I would love to know so please leave a comment.