It’s UX: “Design Developers” Add New Dimension to Software Design

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“Design developers” may be the new job class that companies are looking for these days.

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Photo: Hub Spot

This is the word of Andrée Huk, who posted a very insightful analysis the growing emphasis on designing compelling software for the front-end of applications.

Design developers represent a necessary convergence between the visual-oriented work of designers and the technical chops of developers. “Visual design isn’t just ‘aesthetic’ nor is frontal development typing ‘descriptive code’,” Huk explains. The emerging class of more technically savvy designers along with more savvy UX developers are creating this new breed. This can include developers with a “good eye” for UX and design, as well as designers with the right tools to do more of the front-end work of applications.

This convergence, he says, is occurring due to the emergence of design systems thinking and an evolving mindset in design development, he points out:

Think about design systems: “The shift from designing static visuals to architecture and component (visual) design has been going on for a long time, under the hood,” writes Huk. However, he adds, “The design tools didn’t make it very easy to design this way, on a daily basis. It was possible, but it involved a lot of manual and repetitive design work. The latest versions of design tools on the market, such as those from Sketch and Adobe, eliminate much of that pain.

Design development minds: Design developers take on more of the developer work – such as implementation issues – without sending it back to the development team, Huk says. As a result, there will be “fewer cycles of iterations and feedback loops between design and engineering”. In the process, he adds, software engineers will have “more time for engineering to focus on good code and less on user interface behavior.” They can refer issues back to the design team when they arise. The current generation of more robust design tools make this more achievable, as well as training or experience, he adds.

With great thought comes greater responsibility. With this new way of approaching software design, designers “can and should now take full ownership of the actual behavior of the interface,” writes Huk. “This implies monitoring but also that interface bugs are the sole responsibility of the design team – the blame cannot be passed on to the development team.”


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