Where I currently work, I’m part of a smaller team than I’m used to. There’s Steve-the-Manager, a Senior Web Designer with more than twenty years in the company (!!!), then there’s Craig, a 20 years younger and as many shades blonder Web Designer version of Steve, and Rik, you’ve guessed it!, also a Web Designer, twenty something years old and originally from the Netherlands, speaking a 16 million times better English than mine, though he’s only recently moved to London. I’m the only proper geek in the gang and the only one who couldn’t use a Wacom tablet even if my life depended on it.
Now, I’ve never had a designer managing me before, but I have worked with designers day in and day out for pretty much all of my professional life. So I do speak their language (with a bit of an accent, mind you!), and things are normally fun and games in the office. And then sometimes they’re not, and my anti designer wrath reaches such great heights that I build pixel imperfect things on purpose. That’ll show them!
There are a couple of rules my three designer colleagues live by when it comes to the developer/designer relationship, and these they share with me on a daily basis, in an attempt to educate my ignorant developer derriere. It’s only fair I share these little nuggets of knowledge with the rest of you. So, without further ado, I present to you:
A Designer’s Guide To Why Developers Suck
1. All developers want to be/think they are designers.
I can’t say I know where this is coming from, as I most definitely don’t pretend I’m a designer and would rather saw my hand off than have to do even the most trivial of design tasks. Have I mentioned it would take me half a second to find a much better, design unrelated use for a Wacom tablet? How does beer coaster sound?
These said, I am still a threat. I might one day wake up and decide that a beautiful, hold-the-page-together thingy it’s taken someone weeks to design is not to my liking, and change it to match my weird, questionable, geeky tastes. Now of course I wouldn’t do that unintentionally or because of crazy things like browser support and such, but because I think I’m a better designer than everybody else. But I’m not, OK? I really should get that into my silly developer head and stop meddling.
2. Developers don’t do any actual work.
When, as in my case, your manager considers this developers-do-nothing thing gospel truth, you, my friend, are in deep trouble.
Being the last person to join the team, I was given a desk everybody bumps into on their way to, well, anywhere. Going to the loo? Feel free to pat me on the shoulder on your way there. The canteen? Same thing. Fancy just resting your eyes for a second or two? Why not rest them on my screen, it’s right there in your face. What follows is legend.
Oh, so all you do is type words all day?
How many did you type today?
I don’t know, a couple of hundreds.
A couple of hundreds… [Insert I-could-type-six-hundred-words-a-minute-using-just-my-index-finger-and-a-stick look.]
A couple of months into it, you get used to the snoopy looks over your shoulder, to the Oh-so-the-words-you-type-get-colored-automatically?, to the oh-so-funny introductions (Have you met our developer? We don’t really know what she does half the time.) and things begin to settle in this lazy world of yours.
3. Developers are socially retarded.
Well, I guess we can all agree this is true. The end.
Here’s a nice little story about my social handicap.
In our open plan office, everybody wants to be BFF with everybody else. We’re of course all working hard towards this rosy future where we all know each other’s secrets and spend our days holding hands in a circle singing Cumbaya. There’s only one problem preventing this heart warming scenario from coming true. Headphones. People have them, put them on as soon as they sit at their desks, and then spend the rest of the day in their individual musical bubbles, clicking away. No Cumbaya. No BFF-ing into the sunset.
But what are we if not super friendly ingenious problem solvers?
They started by nailing half a dozen speakers on the walls. I should have known something bad was coming. And it did. One morning, One Direction was blasting from the aforementioned speakers, one of them strategically placed right above my head. Now, I know absolutely nothing about the One Direction kids, and, surprising as it may sound, I would like for it to stay that way. But as they sang their beautiful music that fateful morning, the girl responsible for the speaker initiative declared that headphones were now forbidden and we should all enjoy our new BFF-friendly soundtrack together.
Now, I know what you think. You think I went all geeky and antisocial and put my headphones on while everybody was holding hands swaying to the One Direction rhythm. You are wrong. What are you, designers?
If you must know, I tried. I locked my headphones in the drawer to avoid temptation. I actually listened to the words. Every once in a while, someone would change the song and though I knew I’d terribly miss One Direction, I welcomed the introduction to new music superstars I’d never heard of with open arms. But I was sad. Maybe being everybody’s BFF really wasn’t in my blood. Maybe I really was socially defective. Otherwise why would I feel distracted, and even annoyed at the delightful music everybody loved to listen to? Why did I find myself fantasising about my headphones, their shape, their softness, the way they perfectly fit my now unprotected ears?
One day when I felt particularly depressed and like I couldn’t take it anymore, I gave up and went back to my soundproof music bubble. The speaker girl actually came to me and asked if I didn’t like their music. Resourceful as ever, I said I simply adored it but that my computer’s cooler made an annoying noise only headphones could help with. She gave me the Oh, you’re the developer look and walked away.