You can’t make cool stuff if they don’t know you can make cool stuff

May 26th, 2011

I was talking to a friend of mine at another web design company and he was complaining about how all the projects he works on are boring and that none of them ever used JavaScript, HTML5 or CSS3 in any meaningful way. I asked him if he’s involved in the design process and if the designers know that, firstly, he can build the effects they want and secondly, that the effects exist in the first place. He said no, that they just send him the Photoshop file and he codes up the the design and I said that’s exactly why he doesn’t get to do the fun stuff.

When I first started at my current employer, they were really against using Flash. This was over three years ago, so it wasn’t a because of the current anti-Flash sentiment that’s out there now, but because their previous experiences with Flash was with developers that didn’t really know what they were doing. I did my best to show them what could be done when you use Flash properly to build your projects and they came around, which lead to a fair amount of Flash work for me.

As I learned more and more about jQuery and JavaScript, I showed the designers I work with the little experiments I was building. I would also find sites featuring cool techniques that I found interesting and after I figured out how it was built or if I had an idea how I would do it, I would send the link to everyone in the office, saying I can do this. I also started to get involved in the design process near the beginning, suggesting effects and things that suited the design that the designer might not have though of. With one design, I happened to be walking by when the designer was working on a site, and I made a suggestion based on what I saw and the following conversation turned the site from a static site to an original looking site that I was proud to work on.

My main point is this, most of the clients you have, in fact a vast majority, aren’t going to be looking for something cutting edge or revolutionary. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add something to make the boring sites more interesting. And if the people you work with know what you’re capable of, then they’re more likely to have that in their mind when they’re pitching a design. If they don’t know what you can do, then they won’t ask you to do it.

One thing I’ve stressed at work is that as long as it’s not something insanely complicated, I’ll figure out how to do it, usually in a day or two. Now the designers I work with come to me with ideas, usually something like, “can you do this?” and if it’s not possible the way they want, I suggest a different way to do it. Together, we come up with the best solution.

If you’re a developer and you don’t think you’re being used to the best of you’re abilities, then just having an open line of communication with the designers is usually the best way to change that. Just shave once and a while and brush the Cheetos off your shirt and the designers shouldn’t be too afraid.

One Response to You can’t make cool stuff if they don’t know you can make cool stuff

  1. corey says:

    Firstly, Cheetos are awesome.
    Secondly, Shaving is overrated.
    Thirdly, Great post sir.

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