Now, how’s that for a catchy title? It got your attention, right? But what on earth do I mean? Well, if you’re from the world of web app creation, you’re probably well aware that design and development tend to be handled by two different kinds of people; sometimes by entirely different teams of people; and sometimes even by two entirely different companies.
And why? Well, because, as a general rule, the kinds of people who love crafting the aesthetic look and feel of a site are different than those who think in terms of the what and how; the “do” of the application, if you will. And what do I mean by “different”? Well, generally, they tend to have entirely different personalities. It’s the whole right brain vs. left brain scenario you’ve heard so much about.
Sometimes these two typologies can get on each others’ nerves. The designers are frustrated by the developers’ lack of aesthetic sensibility for subtle design elements, while developers tend to be put off by designers’ shallow understanding of code; what the developers consider the very guts of the application. Rest assured, both are pretty much equally annoyed by the other.
Truth be told, sometimes they’re also more than a little intimidated by each other. Designers secretly wish they knew how to DO more, in terms of taking a Photoshop rendering and turning it into a living, breathing application. Developers, on the other hand, not only wish they had a better design eye, but sometimes wonder why they can’t recognize a good design even when they’re staring at it! They often rely on others to tell them what looks good.
Now, does it sound like I’m picking on one side more than the other? Probably not, right? And why? Well, because I’m one of those rare breeds that do both; that has both hemispheres working simultaneously, so to speak. I like to envision and then execute a website from start to finish; right from working out user-stories, to wire-framing, to Photoshop mockups, to building fully realized, living and breathing, dynamic applications.
And in my opinion, a really great website or application has both things going for it: stellar design and seamless, powerful functionality. And this is where the cheeky “non-duality” part of the title comes in. You see, in my mind, they really are not two. Design and development should work hand in hand. Not only should a website look good, but it should be “dressed” and “laid out” appropriately, based on the intended function of the website. There is no one standard for good design. It really does depend on what the site or application is intended to do. Likewise, a great looking site, that promises much at first glance, but then fails on delivery, will prove just as disappointing.
So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t shirk. On either. Because they really are one. A successful web application launch calls for attention to detail in both categories: in web design and development. So keep that in mind next time you plot a project. Focus on one or the other and you’ll end up with a ho-hum product, at best. Pay attention to both, letting one build off the strengths of the other – and you’ll have yourself a world-class application.