Anton Holmquist


Why you should replace your UX and graphic designers with programmers

Photo by Artem Sapegin

We all know that building tech is slow and expensive. Even features that seem easy tend to take a lot of time and resources to build. In a typical team you have product people, UX designers, graphic designers and a bunch of developers. The bottleneck is usually the programmers not being able to build stuff in the same pace that the others are able to come up with ideas, UX and graphics. This would be solved by increase developer productivity, and I believe this strangely enough can actually be done by moving work from designers to developers and reducing the team. I will explain why.

The reason that coding takes so much time

I believe that the main reason that coding takes so long is that that a lot of unqualified decisions are being made by the product managers and designers before being handed to the developers. Designers have so little information. They don’t know about technical limitations, they rarely know what is easy or difficult to implement, and the often don’t care since it’s not their job to worry much about this. When designers do their job to the best of their ability they are usually missing out on opportunities of creating solutions that would require a fraction of the implementation work.

There is actually a number of good reasons why to let your programmers do most of the UX and graphics design work:

1. Programmers make qualified decisions

Programmers have so much information on which to base every product and UX decision. They know about the technical details of the system, they know what is difficult to implement and what is easy. Every decision they make will be based on this knowledge. Developers also have the big advantage of being able to use a feature of the product while building on it. If something feels wrong early on they are quickly able to change direction of the implementation.

2. Programmers keep it simple

Developers tend to get extremely pragmatic in their decisions because they have so much information of the work that will follow. If a developer identifies a simple solution that can be implemented in a fraction of the time, he will go with it. Programmers are lazy and don’t like doing unnecessary work, and this is a good thing. They are actually very resource minded without evening knowing it, and this usually aligns with business goals like keeping costs down.

3. Programmers get more productive

Developers are architects and problem solvers at heart. Many actually love coming up with product solutions and will get more productive implementing a design they fully understand. At the same time, nothing kills their motivation like having to implement an inefficient solution that someone else came up with. Developers love doing stuff their way and they are usually great at it.

Reduce and optimise your team

I believe that most product teams should consist of a group of talented developers together with one tech-minded product manager and no UX or graphics designers. There are so many best practises around UX and graphics today that pretty much all decisions could be made within this group without external assistance. This creates a lean team that is able to execute all the way from idea to implemented product feature in an extremely efficient way.

Replacing your UX and graphics designers with developers could allow you to build better products with less resources in shorter time.

You should try it!

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