Working as a team

Bastian Allgeier wrote an article for .net magazine saying, every designer should learn to code and every programmer should learn to design.

For an interface designer, handing over your designs to the developer means losing control of the creative process. Of course, you will be working together on the project and communicating back-and-forth, but it will never result in a creation that is all of your own. In other words, you will never be independent in your creativity.

Bastian is the creator of Zootool and kirby, the awesome file based CMS. He studied Design and then learned how to code. The reason for him to do everything was to be independent. He can do whatever he wants because he can do everything by himself. That certainly has value, but beeing a generalist also has some downsides.

I think as a webdesigner for example it is important to know the basics of HTML and CSS, but that’s pretty much it. You don’t have to know every little detail or be able to code some fancy Javascript or PHP to make a great website design. The problem is that, if you know to much about the other craft it can stand in your way. Imagine you are the designer and developer of a project and you have a cool looking idea and you know that this will be hard to do in CSS & HTML and will probably take a lot of time. There is a good chance you will simply go with the easier version. That might be good if you try to work as little as you can for the most amount of money, but that certainly isn’t the right way if you want to build the best product possible.

At we work as a team of experts. Okay, we are fairly young and years away of being experts, but everybody has his core strength.
Marcel for example does all the design work and almost everyday we discuss his latest creations. He does the best design he can dream up without thinking too much about the other parts of the process. Then it is up to me to analyse if it’s possible to do. My standard answer is: „Everything is possible.“ And if I don’t know how to do it yet, I will figure it out. It is all about doing the best work possible, not the easiest. I can’t stand people who say that something is impossible without really trying first. In my experience everything is feasible, the question is how long does it take do find the solution and are you willing to go the long way instead of the easy one.

In my opinion it is much easier to achieve this if you work in a team with experts, who also know the basics of the other crafts, so that you can discuss every decision and motivate each other. That’s a very important part which you loose if you work alone.

I can see that not everybody is in the position to have a great team and that it is good if you can do a project on your own, but it is not the best possible way.
In the end it all comes down to loving your work and trying to build the best product no matter what.