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29th August 2017 | Berlin
Glug Berlin Panel Discussion Part II

PART TWO OF THE GLUG BERLIN PANEL DISCUSSION WRITE UP. READ PART ONE HERE.

Thorsten to Melanie:

“Would you agree on the statement that a digital design that is not able to code is not a digital designer, they are just a designer.”

Melanie:

No, there is more. There is more than the analog design, you have to understand how it works, that's why there are people who are UX designers. In best case they understand a bit of code to know what is possible. That’s not to say they have to be coders or write a line of code, but they need to know what is possible.

Thorsten:

I disagree. A computer is a media on it’s own. It’s not emulating other medias like photoshop is etc. The main media is that you can programme it, you can get it to do things. So in the context, to code is to design.

Melanie:

It’s less about programming the computer. It’s about interactions. Especially when it comes to mobile devices. If you don’t understand interactions or know how it works, then you can’t make a successful product. As a designer you can still be a digital designer whilst using templated code, you just have to design the level up in terms of interaction and user experience.

How developers have a secret language.

Communication

Q. How can stronger communication be developed not only between designers and developers, but also between designers, developers, and creative teams (art director, copywriter)? How can a team bring them into the fold more effectively?

Pilar:

We involve everyone at the beginning as we focus on co-creating.

We need to be humble enough to know we need each other to create something great.

Harry:

This harks back to the whole theme of this talk - communication is key. I noticed that developers we have a lot of formats that encourage collaboration. We work in version control, pair programming, code reviews. I haven’t seen many designers that work that close or in a similar way. I try to facilitate situations where we codesign for a couple of hours, working on a new concept or through a problem. It is tricky to loop in copywriters and photographers, as there are budget restraints. I’d love to include a copywriter from the very start, text is design as well. It contributes massively to the user experience, but contraints don’t make that possible.

Pilar:

Sometimes you have to be the person the team needs you to be. We need to create copy, so create some copy. As a team we need to go in the same direction.

Thorsten:

I disagree a little with Harry. Communication isn't key - being a professional is key, and communication is part of it. The product is the most important aspect, so if you need to have a lot of communication to solve a problem that is fine, but then you also need to go to your desk and get on with the work. No one pays for your communication, they pay for your product.

Unfortunately, we have so many really ugly and successful products out there, so it seems having a good design and good code quality isn’t the necessarily the primer for success.

Audience Q&A

Q. If you designers are embedded in teams, how do you ensure they maintain their education level and are aware of current trends, new tech etc.

Is there anything formal in place, or is it ad hoc?

Pilar:

We have different things to keep the teams aligned. We have teams small to reduce complexity. In every product team their is a designer.

We keep all our team members up to date. We have design critics across teams, and have weekly sessions where to share design ideas, topics, trends, prototyping tools.

Thorsten:

If you dig into a lot of the current frameworks and work ideas, most originate from the 50’s and are just renamed. If you want to look into how to introduce a new working idea, this is usually a good place to start.

Q. This is one for Thorsten. Do you believe front end developers have to understand design and have a good eye for it?

Thorsten:

Of course. They should understand the basic rules of design, it’s the foundation of common communication between disciplines.

Q: How do you make this work for remote teams?

Melanie:

It’s an optimistic answer - on the foundation is trust. Of course things go wrong, but that’s apart of the industry. We give them a call every second or third day to check in.

Thorsten:

Most of my time, I work remotely. This means you can utilise the time difference. Remote team only works, when all of them are working hard and taking their jobs seriously. It needs to be like a industrial machine, so you are all working on productive problems. Things can get lost, so you have to keep on top of everything so it doesn’t break just before launch.

A big Glug Berlin thanks to all the panellists.

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