When Visual Met Virtual

Bridging the digital divide, a group of around 75 designers and developers gathered Wednesday evening at San Francisco’s Storek Building to discuss how the two teams can work together. The group listened to a panel of three people who’ve successfully worked on both sides of the coin. Chris Palmatier of Neighborland gave great tips to designers looking to work with developers, and speaking to the developer side were Gregor Martynus, Founder of Minutes.io and Cary Dunn, CTO of Right Signature. An active Q&A session followed the panel discussion.

Takeaways from Chris:

  • It is good to have at least some understanding of what the other side does. If you are focused in one area that’s fine but you should at least find something in the other field that interests you and learn about it. Being a designer who knows a bit of PHP doesn’t hurt and being a Developer who knows something about color theory doesn’t hurt.
  • Make the focus of your collaboration about the product—how it uniquely serves the user.
  • CSS shouldn’t be scary to print designers, it’s exactly like setting up styles in InDesign when working in long-form documents.

Takeaways from Gregor:

  • I don’t care if you are the best designer in the world, if we don’t share the same vision I would not hire you. You need to talk to people to be able to get a feel for them when you are hiring.
  • Anyone can sketch the “essence” of a product, you don’t need to be a designer or developer per se.
  • Important to establish wireframes before getting into visual design. The uglier they are, the better, because they represent the essence of the thing.

Takeaways from Cary:

  • Focus how a product works.
  • Finding a designer depends on what kind of design and how technical the designer is.

Chris also recommends designers look into this resource:

I mentioned playbook.thoughtbot.com last night. While it’s not specifically about the design/dev boundary, it’s a good window onto how an internet manufacturing concern works, which might require some demystifying for a designer who hasn’t yet dived into creating web products.

Did you attend the event? What did you think?

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