Today the iPhone 6 was released along with a gigantic iPhone plus. The sizes are additions to these size categories with several other large phones and phablets and designing with them in mind will reveal a deeper struggle in the minds of designers and developers.
UI or User interface development is a world of intricacies.
Now before a hoard of designers call me a brute (2 people on twitter), let me say I’m a huge fan of making beautiful things in Illustrator and mocking things up so that there is a creative direction before a line of code is touched. Just as I like to sketch out things to give an idea of the layout, and wireframe things as appropriate. It’s just this distinction that has to be made though, visual design in photoshop or illustrator is an approximation of what the design will look like in the end, and can’t account for all of the intricacies of how things react when clicked, hovered over, dropped-down, shrunken or enlarged. Said a different way, a mock-up in a design program is just a painting to the real thing of working code.
I often ask myself the question; ‘am I a designer or a developer?’
The designers and developers who have been out in the job market for a longer time than myself have found it quite important to make this distinction, it’s essential to their focus at work, their pocketbook and their sense of identity. If it takes 10,000 hours for someone to master something than goddammit I’m going to choose one and attack it with the full force of my 5 senses. I’m going to eat, sleep and shit web design. Or I’m going to crack out on visual design until I am the go-to guy for delicious looking graphic design.
So I’ve reached the understanding with myself. I have to be one thing.
I just now consider myself a visual designer who often designs in code. This is going to sound pretentious, but bear with me for a second. Artists for thousands of years didn’t take it for granted that understanding and learning how to master their tools and medium were all part of long part of becoming a master. They collected the secretions of sea snails and ground flowers to get the perfect shade of purple or yellow. They knew how to trim brushes and maintain their materials. Becoming a master of your materials was all part of the game, and I believe that code can be that medium for creative individuals today. To start a journey with code is to start a journey exploring and understanding the ‘material’ of web design; to begin to master it is to be more fully prepared to wield everything the real tools of web design have.
When someone is able to master using code for User Interface design you can see that it makes a difference.
Things that were made in the browser have a native feel that lets a site visitor navigate freely and appreciate the natural interactive environment. Designs that have been cut and spliced from a photoshop document feel clunky and un-natural. This is by no means a rule, but I project that more and more designers will lay down the photoshop and illustrator tools they feel so attached to on a regular basis to pursue more elegant ways to render visual design. Ways that allow them to feel the natural restraints of their designs native environment, and play with ways to enhance the design with interactive options and possibilities.
Do you feel that “visual designers who often design in code” is a movement that is gaining momentum? Tweet at me, or leave a comment below. I’m extremely interested in hearing other peoples opinions on this, as it is a pretty life defining element of my journey and career. Are you appalled by my insensitivity to the true artists of graphic design, who slave away at incredible logo designs and sweat style, please let me know as well. I welcome alternate opinions, and even controversy.
Feel free to check out my current Designer/Developer Toolkit For 2014