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Working with Designers

Charles Brian Quinn

At Highgroove, we’re not designers. We’re back-end Ruby on Rails experts. However, we love working with designers of all types: UX/UI experts, wireframing experts, PSD to HTML gurus and other hyper-specialists as well.

We love crisp, user-friendly interfaces that are simple, and straight to the point. When building a web application, it’s tempting to try to design out all the screens or flows that a user (or visitor) to the web application will see, but it’s practically impossible.

What inevitably happens when doing BDUF (Big Design Up Front), is that we all assume “that designers are able to foresee problem areas without extensive prototyping and at least some investment into implementation.”

For some web applications, “slapping on design at the last moment” can work (especially for internal-only, quick and dirty prototypes), but the best way to design a web application is Iteratively, on-going, while the application comes together (during implementation).

We’ve created a couple of documents and how-tos, internally, here at Highgroove to get smart designers up to speed on how to use version control systems like git (using the GUI interface, versus the command line), and how to design a web application that has ways to handle empty screens, error messages, etc. By getting Designers up to speed quickly and using light-weight tools, it helps us version HTML/graphic changes, and respond iteratively to both client requests (“can we make this smaller?”) and functionality requests (“can we simply add a ‘login as this user button’?”) to web applications.

Besides finding the perfect designer who is also the perfect developer (and also the perfect project manager and communicator and content writer and tester), what do you do to iterate on Design when building web applications?

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