Why you have to care: design for developers

I’m a developer. I love to learn new languages, implement algorithms and debate about which framework is the best. And if you’re reading this, you’re probably like me. But most developers use that as an excuse when it comes to design.

Have you seen all these softwares, websites, mobile apps, with poor design and user experience? You see what I mean, right? For the purpose of the demonstration, let’s take a fake example: an Android app we will call AwesomeApp (how original).

AwesomeApp has great features, but it’s so hard to use that it drives the user crazy. There is too much content on screen, loading times take ages, colors are poorly chosen… Well, an app designed by developers. Of course, developers are not designers, that’s not their job. But does that mean you have to create ugly and/or not ergonomic things? From my experience, here are what the creators of AwesomeApp would probably tell you about their app design:

  • We don’t care about design for now, we focus on features. Design will come later (actually never)
  • Our design is awesome. Look, it looks like computers in Matrix, that’s so cool (Matrix is rarely a good source of inspiration for an app design)
  • We’re not designers, we don’t know anything about that weird, black magic stuff (aka “I don’t have a Photoshop license”)
  • All our developers love our iOS design applied on Android with adaptations (which means “We keep our dev team silent, it’s better for the management team mental health”)
  • Oh you’re right, our design is ugly, we’ll improve it later (you’ll probably die before a design update comes)


When you create something, you want to offer a nice user experience. You want to create a pleasant and beautiful stuff. That’s a primary goal when you conceive something.

During many years, one of my best friends was telling me, each time I showed him a new project, “Your design looks awful”. My reply was “That’s the best I can do, I’m not a designer”. Well, this excuse was wrong. After a time I’ve started to care about design, and slowly, I’ve acquired some basic notions I can use every day at work.

Through years, I’ve learned how to use colors, when to apply margins, how to choose the size for a button… There are definitely a lot of things to learn. It’s a complete and different job, and for developers, it’s a whole brand new world. But the first thing you have to learn is to care. Care about your app (or software, or whatever product) design. Care about the final user experience. And start to care from the very beginning. Design is not a coat of paint applied at the end of the development (even if it’s a really popular trend in France).