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I’m an interface developer

In his latest post Roger Johansson asks the question Are we designers or developers?. I have a simple answer for that. None of them. Let me explain:

First we have these people calling themselves developers. And boy do they know programming… and math… and… no that’s all. Many have a masters degree in computer science, a degree that pretty much tells you that they once gave five years of their lives to programing, how cool is that!? It’s not unusual to find people that think in those terms too. You can recognize them by their 10 year old, unmatched, clothes and you’ll rarely talk more than 1 minute with them. Very efficient.

Then we have the designers. Either real females, or people very close to females, that just can’t stop talking about this abstract thingie-thongie that just like, you know, exploded in a big burst of colors and like… “EHEM! Sorry!”, you hear them say, regaining consciousness and flying back to earth. Their clothes, at least you think they are clothes, often look like they where meant for something else. Perhaps for building steel pumps, or killing animals… or both. Well, at least these clothes are matched… or very purposefully not at all matched (not at aaaall like the developers). You can talk with these people for hours, probably even days, and still only touch upon the delicate topic of “a glass of water”. Oh, and they “create” things too. Very deep.

So where the heck does the interface developer come into all of this? Well, imagine you have a real project at hand. Real people that need some new website to do their work. Real deadlines, money that switches hands. Smiling business people that promises things and shake hands. Seems like something you know of?

Now, imagine bringing a developer and a designer together in a room, for like a month, working together with this new website. Concentrate hard and try to see the images before your very eyes. Will they accomplish anything?

  1. Hell no! In 5 minutes they will have started arguing about who should be the first one to open the door, and in what way. One talking about the most efficient way to turn the handle, and the other one defending herself by talking about cosmic beams from Saturn. After the first day the developer will have sore cheeks, after being constantly bitch slapped while hiding under his desk. The third day the designer will sit shaking in a corner after the electric shock induced by the steel helmet the developer built. None of them will survive the fourth day, let alone the project.
  2. Very yes! When you meet them after the month has passed you find two harmonic people that smiles to each other and really seem to have connected. They explain to you that the demonstration will be in two parts, first the designer and then the programmer. The designer shows you an app that really touches you, at least you think so, although you not fully understand it. The programmer shows you the other part of the app, one that instantly shows the number 369. They finish the presentation and look at you. You stand up, walk out, lock yourself into a nearby free conference room, and shout with all the power in your lungs: “HOW THE F*#CK AM I GOING TO DO MY TAXES WITH THIS SHIT?!#”. When you come back you find them congratulating each other for making the deadline.

You see? There’s something missing there. Some kind of link between the two. Someone that can walk into a room with two screaming people and calmly say: “Hey, you both kinda run linux (SuSE vs. Mac OS X), and have a “cold” desktop background (default plain blue vs. modern interpretation of Vasnetsov Snegurochka), what a coincidence!?”. There needs to be someone that can walk into the same room the next day and explain that they are talking about two different kinds of “abstract methods”. There needs to be a link.

But there’s more: An interface developer is silly enough to learn languages that doesn’t even have variables. Even though he know that his code will be sent as uncompressed plaintext and will be rendered by broken excuses for programs, he won’t cry himself to bed every night.

He will also gladly adapt a design to something it wasn’t really intended for, and he even will make it look somewhat good. He will skip adding those fabulous shadows, to make the deadline on time, and still think of himself a good person.

You see, even though “interface” reflect the visual graphic things, and “developer” relate to hard logic code, interface developers are real people, not a combination of two halves. I am one.

Friendly Bit is a blog by Emil Stenström, a Swedish web developer that occasionally gets ideas of how to improve the internet.