1

I work as a junior UX designer in a small team of a department (consists of 2 junior ux/ui designers and a non-designer team lead). There is no senior designer. The reason why I emphasize on this team structure will be explained shortly.

So as a UX designer, I have a lot of interaction with the devs... especially the FE/BE developers. And whenever I present the designs to the dev team, the team-leads of the dev team always have something to say to go against my design. Which I totally understand, they have their professional opinions while I have mine.

But one time, I presented my designs to the clients in a meeting, and they were satisfied with the design solution that I've came up with.

And then later on, I presented the same design to the team-leads of the dev team, and one of them had strong feelings against it (not all of team-leads on the dev team, just one of them). And when I asked what was his reasoning, he would just say it is 'too complicated' to build it.

Although, I had my heart set in stone that this is the best UX solution that I could give for the product after a lot of research, but I tried to ask the team-lead more questions as to why this is not feasible other than it being 'too complicated', and tried to give my reasoning why this is the solution. But he just did not want to proceed with the discussion.

And the team-lead of my team, who is not a designer, is just there listening and says he has no idea what to say on the design, and wanted me to go back into my 'research-mode' to see if I could find a better solution. I have to go research again while the clients were satisfied, but just because one dev said it's too complicated.

Thus, I guess my questions are...

  • Can the devs get away on opposing the design by just saying "the design is too complicated"? (I mean the UX designers have to come up with at least one valid reasoning, imo, to back up a design solution. But the devs's situation doesn't seem to be the same)
  • Or is this because of my lack of seniority and experience as a UX designer that cause the devs just to say no to the design?
  • Is there anything that I could have done better in this type of situation? (Should I have asserted more on my design with more reasoning?)

I really appreciate your advice.

2
  • Did you start with a detailed structure and work flow of the app? Or did you start with the visual designs? Do the first and start discussing about it with the devs right away. Devs are good at seeing bumps on the road. Use that to your advantage. And don't hesitate to ask further: What is too complicated and why? Lack of time and personnel is often the real reason, not the legacy code they are dealing with. You need to work as a team to achieve something.
    – jazZRo
    Dec 2 '20 at 10:14
  • The point is not: 'too complicated' to build it, but: too complicated 'to build it'!
    – Shinigami
    Dec 2 '20 at 17:30
1

It's complicated...I mean, it really is.

It's usually wise not to show something to a client unless you have some idea of the cost to deliver it - and by cost I don't just mean financial, but time, and people. Sometimes a design is creative an innovative and yes it works, but if it's not off the shelf, or doesn't suit the framework or tech stack, then it's going to take extra effort to deliver and that's something that your business should have a grasp of before proposing to a client.

Once you have some experience in working with a technology or a team or a framework, then you kind of get a feel for what's doable within such constraints. And, yes sometimes a solution needs to be simpler than the one that works best - deliverables are almost always about compromises.

However, a response of "It's complicated" shouldn't be a deal breaker on its own. Most things are complicated. You should at least get a breakdown of why it's complicated, so that you know how to simplify or improve the design in a way that makes things easier for implementation as well as working for the client. Besides you need to know this sort of thing so that on the next project, you can factor in this new knowledge and not get the same response again.

But the absolute best thing you can do is to work WITH the developers in designing something. If you collaborate from the beginning then there's no surprises for anyone, and each of you feels like you've been involved and have a stake in the design. You iterate around a solution that gradually takes in the constraints, and the developer(s) can't just turn around at the end and say "It's too complicated" - or at least - if it is complicated, you'll already know this, but will have accepted that the benefits are worth the effort. It's hard to share designs before you think they're ready, but you definitely should.

Developers and designers can't work well together if you shut each other out.

1
  • 1
    Yes, you've made a great point on I shouldn't be showing the designs to the clients before going through the devs. It was an awkward situation where the management people (higher up people) want to prove that the team is working on something and made a progress by showing the designs. I guess my learning point is that I shouldn't take a Yes from the clients as something I should rely on definitively. Thank you for the advice!
    – xyz-grid
    Dec 2 '20 at 18:24
0

Can the devs get away on opposing the design by just saying "the design is too complicated"? (I mean the UX designers have to come up with at least one valid reasoning, imo, to back up a design solution. But the devs's situation doesn't seem to be the same)

Devs can get away with anything since they are the ones that have to deliver on the design. A rule of thumb is to never design anything that the devs can't commit to delivering, because then it's them and not you that gets the blame for failing to meet deadlines. A sure way to annoy devs is to propose designs without checking with them. Of course, you can get the opposite situation of devs who don't want to do anything, or just want to take the easier way out. But if you dig deeper into the issue I am sure you'll find the right way to resolve it.

Or is this because of my lack of seniority and experience as a UX designer that cause the devs just to say no to the design?

I think any developer worth their weight will listen to reason/logic rather than emotions. If they can't tell the difference between a valid and invalid argument simply because of seniority, then you'll have more than just those problems with them. We know that as designers ourselves that we need to show more humility, not just to the users but ourselves as well because that's what allows us to learn and grow.

Is there anything that I could have done better in this type of situation? (Should I have asserted more on my design with more reasoning?)

Only fight the battles that are worth committing your troops to, so that you stay on track with the overall objective and can win the war. In the context of the entire project, the earlier decisions will have more weight as the project progresses. So you do have to pick your fights and the timing, but it is hard to say since we are not in the same situation, and we might have different ways of dealing with this.

3
  • "...because then it's them and not you that gets the blame for failing to meet deadlines" This gave me a better pov from the devs' side, which makes a total sense. "simply because of seniority, then you'll have more than just those problems with them." Funny, I do have more problems with that specific team-lead I mentioned lolol he did make jokes on my design in a meeting in front of the clients w/o knowing that I was also on the call. This whole remote meeting opened up a lot of things. (too much sarcasm, sorry)
    – xyz-grid
    Dec 2 '20 at 18:33
  • "Only fight the battles that are worth committing your troops to, so that you stay on track with the overall objective and can win the war." Yes and yes! Thank you for saying this, I will remember this! Ever since I got publicly joked on my design, I became very defensive about my design. But this was a good reminder. Thank you!
    – xyz-grid
    Dec 2 '20 at 18:36
  • @xyz-grid it is unfortunate that you had to endure the unpleasantness of having your design criticized in such a way. But I would suggest that this also has to do with the actual company/corporate culture where you don't create a safe environment for people to exchange ideas. There are also wars that are not worth fighting for... personally I have always made my retreat when I know that I am sacrificing troops unnecessarily. A quote from Sun Tzu's Art of War: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
    – Michael Lai
    Dec 2 '20 at 22:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.