Developers and designers – can they co-exist?

I see blogs all the time from a developer who is complaining about designers. I am both a designer and a developer. Many times I am the everything person, design, develop etc., but many times I have to deal with another designers file. Then I have to make it a live XHTML/CSS page. When I am working with some designers files, I often wonder if they’ve even seen a website.

So I get why it’s so frustrating. Why can’t designers and developers talk before-hand so the correct decisions are made before client sees it.

Common mistakes I personally see (some) designers make:
– Aliased fonts
– Strange fonts used in bad places. There are 11 common fonts for both platforms. Only use those when designing body copy and many other things. Logos don’t count.
– Tracking on fonts that interact with other important elements, like inside pods etc.
– No idea about CSS, so text ends up being on a curve. I can’t make that happen without it being an image. My rule #1: If it’s text, it’s live html text. Logos being an exception.
– Since many designers have rarely made a page live, they don’t understand the concept of structure on a page. Think in terms of background images for design elements. Text still needs a structure. 2 column, 3 column etc. for text layout. Keep the users eye in a logical flow for the text.
– Navigation – I’d prefer to make the text live too with navigation. Design a great-looking button, but leave the text live. Don’t use some crazy font. It makes it easier to change navigation when the client changes their mind, or adds another page. I and many others use a bulleted list to design the navigation in CSS.
– Don’t just think about the interior of the page, also think about the background. Is it a plain color, or does it have a texture.
– Is the page going to be a liquid layout (move with the browser width) or is it going to be a fixed width. Many designers have a hard time with this concept because they want things to be pixel perfect. It could also be a combination of liquid and ems.

Bottom line: bring the develop in sooner. Ask the developer if your page will work well. Yes, you care because if you didn’t design a page that is easy to make live, it’ll take the developer much longer to figure out how to do your crazy design. The developer shouldn’t be the last one to see a design, they should be the first before the client ever sees it so they can make sure it can be done in a manner that’s best for the design.

So lets find a way for designers and developers to work together. I think we should start a standards document, and a checklist somewhere like Buzzword and/or Google docs where developers can add to the list and distribute to their designers so they do have a clue.

The designer doesn’t know they are doing something wrong if we don’t tell them. OK, so I hear some of you saying, why should we go out of our way? Why don’t they take the time to learn html, or CSS or what we need? I agree to a point. I was one of those designers and I wanted to know more. But, many feel like all they want to do is design, and since no one is telling them they are doing anything wrong, they are going to continue to plow ahead and design things that make us want to throttle them.

I often work with a designer who when they put the designs on the table, I think to myself, they are showing me the print ad first, right? No, it’s always the web piece and you’d think by now I’d learn. She even took one of my Dreamweaver classes and learned that tables were no longer the standard. She had assumed that since she had learned how to do tables 10 years ago, they were still the standard. She even snidely put me down for using pure CSS. She thought I was incompetent for not using tables to lay out her designs. Wow!

At the class, she commented how different things were and how she now understood how she could design for the web better. Now we can’t educate all designers like that, but it is up to us to do something about it because it will only help us out in the end, or do you like complaining about designs and taking more time to figure out how to make it work for you?

The choice is yours.

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