Sunday, January 22, 2012

Things every Web Developer wishes Web Designers knew

As a web developer I work with many web designers.  I have great respect for web designers as they can do things I couldn't.  I can code but I have no eye for design, I can spot bad design easily but I don't have the talent to create good designs myself.  Because of this I rely heavily on web designers in my projects.  However there are a few key things I rarely find that web designers can do that would help greatly in the smooth running of projects.  While web designers are artists they sometimes seem to forget that fundamentally they are working with technology and at least some basic understanding of the underlying principles of the technologies they use and the web in general is something that every web designer should have.

1. Source Control
Subversion, Git, Mercurial or whatever I would love my designers to be at least familiar with the basics of source control.  It makes collaborating on code and pushing out updates so easy that it is basically essential to any web project.  It's not very difficult conceptually so spend a day reading up on it to familiarise yourself with the basics.

2. How to set up a local dev environment
I know designers love their Macs but if you have bought a Mac it is essential that you know how to set up a basic dev environment in OSX.  If you want to dev locally and you have decided to use OSX it is absolutely the web designer's responsibility to know how to configure and use their own equipment.  I am quite willing to answer sensible/interesting questions about the setup but not questions like "I don't get it, can you do it for me?".  I have as much(or as little) interest in learning how to set up a MAMP stack as you do in a setting up a LAMP stack so don't expect me to waste time figuring out how to get a web app running under OSX.

3. Virtualisation
This is a must.  If you can't/won't figure out how to get the app you are working on running under OSX you must be able set up a virtual instance of the server to test/dev with.  Also for testing various versions of IE you are basically going to have to understand this.  It's not difficult to learn and can save hours of time and hassle and there are plenty of options out there for virtualisation.  I use VirtualBox, it's free and does the job but there are a ton of other programs out there that you can use too.

If as a web designer you can master these basic technologies you will find working with web developers a lot easier(as well as garnering considerable respect from them).  I don't want this post to come off as a rant but I strongly believe that if you want to work in the tech industry you must have a understanding and interest in the technologies that underpin your profession.


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