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Blurred Lines: Design and Development


Brandy Porter

The students in Big Nerd Ranch’s first week-long iOS and Android Design bootcamp were from all walks of the industry. We had app, desktop and web designers; Android and iOS developers; project managers; and college professors as our students. But what they had in common was that they all sought app design empowerment.

They were interested in rapid prototyping, user testing and visual design trends. They wanted to know the correct vocabulary to have a meaningful conversation with their app teams, and to make design decisions in line with the code they were writing.

Blurring the Line Between Software Development and Aesthetic Design

There has been this line between software development and aesthetic design. A class system of “artistic people” and “non-artistic people” has kept programmers from pursuing more attractive interface design on their own.

Ten years ago, one did not presume to cross that line, lest you be patted on the head and told to go back to what you’re good at. That’s changed recently, and in a really big way. A bridge has grown between software and design, and both are not only given permission to cross the line, but encouraged to blur it.

Apps as a Gateway Drug

The app market is the gateway drug for many developers to become interested in UX and UI design. The evidence connecting beautiful design, simplified user experiences and user success to money spent is palpable. Developers can no longer ignore design.

That care for design and attention to the actual user adds an element of humanity to software development. It has all the feels now. The humans matter!

As designers at Big Nerd Ranch, it’s our job to make sure our developers come to each of our client projects with this understanding and appreciation firmly in place. In fact, most of our developers are eager to take our new Mobile Design Bootcamp so that they can better understand design principles, usability and platform best practices. They want to know how best to use these tools: Why are they there? What do they do? Why should they care? What does the user gain?

And designers can no longer ignore the numbers, brackets and letters that make up the code of an app. Our design team is constantly learning more bits of JavaScript and Objective-C, or boning up on the complex animation capabilities introduced with new SDKs. We are curious about where the boundaries lie, how we can better converse with developers and how we can push natural mental models. We aren’t necessarily learning how to program—we are learning what programmers do, so that we can become better app designers.

We want to encourage developers and designers to blur that line and step over it. To stop tossing designs over walls, and to stop automatically saying no. We want to start a dialogue. We want to make better apps.

Join us for our next iOS and Android Design bootcamp, and take the next step to blur those lines between design and development.


Brandy Porter

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