Developing versus graphic designing and vice versa

The Navigator

The Navigator, Buster Keaton

I found what my friend Pietro Polsinelli wrote in his article The blurring distinction between graphic design and software development really interesting; he takes the right point view of a modern approach to software development.

As a creative code developer and as member of Open Lab, I can say that this method of working keeps is quite different from the standard approach to development: it gives people a sort of three dimensional perception of what they are doing.

Usually a programmer draws the behavior and the workflow of the app he’s developing, constraining graphic designers to adapt their creativity to what exist. This approach penalizes usability, hampering possible “Wow” effects and increasing complexity. Vice-versa no graphic designer can create a usable and comfortable interface without knowing what’s possible on the code side. Neither developers nor graphic designers can finish their work without any marketing analysis and content editing.

As Pietro says, “among the hats one startup should include in its first team, there is indeed development and marketing, but also graphic and usability design […]” and all these roles should continuously involve each other, brain storming together on all sorts of problems.
This “cross-competence’s feedback method” increases our productivity and the interface’ smartness; we needed just three month from the idea to the product for both Patapage and BugsVoice (two of our new products); it completely changes the way of working both for both graphic designers and developers, expanding each other skills and flexibility.

Diagrams for the Living Interface

Diagrams for the Living Interface

I am increasingly convinced that our skills should be less specific and instead embrace everything that surrounds what we do.
The evolution of the web in the recent years is a reflection of this change, from a system composed of millions of isolated pieces, to a system in which every element is trying to communicate intelligently with others, where there is no distinction between enjoyment and action.
Users have an increasingly participatory role and often become direct authors of contents; I’m thinking to the world of blogs, wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, and how these services are able to interact between them.

web 2.0

All this happens just because the distinction that previously existed between technology and creativity has been broken, invading every area of communication and radically changing our lives.

Today, a web designer must also deal with functional aspects of what she/he is doing, and must have programming skills, vice versa a developer must acquire user interface skills to optimize the usability of her/his application. This confluence of roles makes the difference between what works and what does not work for the end-user.

It doesn’t mean that a developer has to do the graphics himself … it would be a disaster! This means taking part and be aware of each other’s problems to address their skills in a more creative and responsible way, getting faster innovative solutions that respect user needs.

People are not looking for full featured complex applications… people are looking for something that fills their needs in the easier way. As we can learn from some successful web applications like Google itself or Tweetter or Flickr or WordPress and so on… we should not reveal the complexity of our application, we should instead exalt the smartness and the usability of it. And this is possible only if developers and GUI designers work together to code and interface interaction.

Those considerations can be applied not only to the web but to everything that needs user interaction in the real world; lets think at cars, phones, appliances, clothes, shoes, …

So you designers and you programmers participate and share your ideas! And also hope that Pietro (a developer) will never work alone on his application GUI! :-D

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