how to make your web-based application look professionally designed. We’ll help you learn how to pick the right colors and fonts, avoid costly interface and accessibility mistakes—your application will really come alive. We’ll also walk you through some common Photoshop and CSS techniques and work through a web site redesign, taking a new design from concept all the way to implementation.
My question is this. Should a developer be trusted with design? It is definitely a profitable skill to have. I believe that developers should at least have a basic idea of what goes into design. I also believe that designers should have a basic understanding of web development. However, if someone is at one end of the spectrum or the other, how do they acquire the necessary skills?
There are several books written for each audience, but very few that are targeted at both. To my knowledge, this is the first book attempting to make a developer more capable as a designer. It appears to approach design in much the way a “logically driven”, coding brain works. It breaks down the fundamental components of design. Layout, color theory, spacing, mockups, etc. All are laid out with a logical process. In some ways it only scratches the surface. Entire books are written on color theory, or typography alone.
I’m curious to see how well this book does. After all, most developers I know—myself included—have a difficult time visualizing good design elements. Most of the books that I read targeting developers talk about the mechanics of css or xhtml. The books for designers talk more about inspiration, or perhaps such abstract things as mood and negative space. The problem for me is that I can’t see the design elements as a whole. I can’t find the harmony of colors and typography. Seeing as I know how the underlying system works, I miss some of the more subtle usability issues. Design is its own discipline. The designers that I have worked with have spent as much time learning how subtle shading and spacing can direct the users eye as I have learning how to craft a self documenting api. Those rare designers who can also code, or vice versa, tend to stay out of the overly complex of either spectrum. Not that they aren’t capable, but either extreme seems to be just as tedious to them as coming up with a photoshopped mock-up is to me.
So that leaves me with another question. For those of us who are not able to visualize a design, what should we do? Should we buy a book like Web Design for Developers or should we find a quality designer, and hire or work with them?
My personal belief is that a designer should do the design work. They have spent the time perfecting their craft, and they can be far more effective in a given time than I could ever hope to be. On the other hand, if I am working on a project for myself. One that is self funded, perhaps I don’t have enough money to hire a proper designer. Nobody likes working for free—nor should they. So perhaps this is the kind of project that the book is gear for. Allow a developer to come up with a passable design, at least until he can properly fund his project and hire someone to do it right.