What should you do for design if you don’t have any dedicated designers? Doesn’t your responsibility end at meeting customer requirements? Shouldn’t your customers be dictating these sorts of things?
These kinds of questions have been eating at me for way too long. The cold hard truth is that there are tons of web developers out there without the help of a professional UX designer. If you find yourself in such a position, what can you do?
Grab Some Crayons
Synonyms for the word design include plan, conceive, draft, devise… The most important aspect of design happens between your ears. Think about where things are going to be and how they are going to appear.
Grab something you can physically draw with and draw. You can roughly sketch out your ideas much faster than code them. It’s not about creating beautiful works of art; it’s about conveying your intent to your fellow workers and customers. If you’re a Photoshop/Illustrator wizard, by all means use them to do this if you want, but this may not be the time to learn new software.
Use a CSS/Component Library
Utilizing a third-party library can drastically reduce the amount of time you need to create a cohesive product. Bootstrap, Foundation, Bulma, and many other libraries have been crafted to created a consistent product.
These libraries will not do everything for you, however. Layouts and the whole user experience still need to be designed. For enterprise environments, you may not need to change much with the actual styling these libraries offer, but if you need to do specific branding, you may need to tweak the styles to match your requirements.
Your users have used other web applications. There is no reason not to leverage that. If you design your navigation similar to other applications that the users have used, you will find that the user has less trouble with your application.
Sometimes, your users may have used a competitor’s product or an internal product that has been sun-downed. Take cues from these products where you can, and learn from their mistakes. Where are menus placed? What fonts are used? Do they use dashboard styles? Hero images? etc.
As a developer, I feel like I don’t have a clue about what I’m doing when it comes to designing properly, but I think that with practice I might be able to get better.
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
― Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
Your time is valuable. Doing things in a thoughtful manner up front will lead to your saving valuable time down the road. Developers, don’t skip the design process altogether just because you’re no developer
Denny Headrick gets to play with code for a living. On top of loving his job, he loves blogging about topics that surround web development and libraries such as VueJS. Follow him on Twitter at @dennythecoder
Original article published here