What is the first thing that you think of when you read or hear "Design"?
- Graphic Tablet
As a true da Vinci (lover of all arts and suffering from the same syndrome) a strange mix of these enters my brain and causes me to stare into a distant future envisioning clean, shiny, single purpose tools and gadgets that make day to day life a breeze.
The creation of things. From problem to solution, from idea to realization, from sketch to prototype. That is the really hard part.
As our customers are getting more and more used to "design" hardware and "design" software, our industry of business applications is slowly catching up with all this coolness by slipping in an occasional gradient and animation that gives the applications the extra umpf. Unfortunately we never learned how to use these correctly nor did we learn to come up with new glittering blings so we end up with copying our precious gradient and animation from project to project, doing what we always do: copy the code.
There are people who know about this stuff. They don't know programming, software patterns, C# or XML but they invent the glitters that make all of us go wooooow!!!
How do we get both programmers and graphic/user interface designer to work together?
Please, let's not do the old waterfall trick again: having the artist draw a marvelous prototype and then spend months by having the programmers to recreate it in their favorite programming platform. I bet the customer wants to change the design as soon as he sees it in action so we need an iterative way of designing and implementing.
One of my favorite industries is been having the same problem for a while now so let's see what we can learn from them: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1651/the_codeart_divide_how_technical_.php
It might be hard to read at times, as the article is using very particular terms of graphics and games programming but a couple of things stand out:
- Those game programming teams are actual software programming teams, not just a bunch of kids that play around. They have budgets, deadlines, customers, requirements, on the side tool development, politics, communication difficulties… they look just like us.
- Content, art, assets, levels, graphics, etc. are first class citizens of the project. These teams seem to understand that these will drive the customers towards their product. Yes code is important but without the graphics and art there is no product.
- As much as programmers and graphic designers are different you need some team members that not just understand both worlds but are also respected in both worlds. These are like glue in your team.
- The process you use needs some sort of pipeline: a way of moving the design assets into the actual software. You can do that by procedures but tools and software can help a great deal by automating that.
Wouldn't it be great to really integrate UI design like this in our projects? And on a personal note: I would love to play this "Technical Artist"-role in a project.
At times the game industry is light-years ahead of us…
Funny you are writing about this. I was having a discussion this morning about how we should ask designers to help us developers build user interfaces. Asking designers for help when working with Silverlight and WPF are pretty obvious choices , however windows forms applications also need a user interface that is usable and looks good.
It also makes me stare and wonder how we can solve this problem and make even better software applications. *Wonders off*
I could not agree more Erno. Most of the pieces are already in place. We have all the technology and tools needed to build fancy looking applications. All we need now is for someone to have the guts and to actually start a project where design is treated as a first class citizen! You can be the technical artist and i’ll write the real code 😉