I am new to this community and I apologize if I am asking an obvious question or one that has already been posed to the community. I am a UI/UX Designer working for a software and services company in an area of the US that isn't typically known for this type of work, so I have a very hard time getting advice on issues or just brainstorming.

As a designer I tend to be pretty anal retentive in regards to pixel perfection. And I really want the final software to be as great as it can be. However, pixel perfection seems to be the lowest priority for our developers and I don't blame them. They have an extremely difficult task to achieve themselves. Unfortunately, part of my job is quality assurance in the UI. I find myself getting a lot of backlash from my peers for failing QA tasks based on pixel perfection issues, but also getting flack for letting UI issues get through to our alpha and beta launches. I am wondering if anyone else suffers from this same dilemma and what, if anything, you have done about it? Do I just grit my teeth and deal with my developers hating me, but get a better product for it? Or do I suck it up and let the UI be less than it could be in order to accommodate the workload of the developers? Any insight from other professionals in the field would greatly appreciated. I would love to hear both sides of this issue as well. I am curious to see what developer's and designer's takes are from this. Thank you all for your time. I look forward to the responses.

  • This isn't an answer, so that's why I'm commenting- I'm a pixel perfect developer, and I would LOVE having a fellow pixel perfect QA guy (and have had a few in the past) filing UI tasks/bugs for my products. The software ends up looking really, really good when you have an unstoppable pair like that, and the end users and customers notice, even if not consciously. – J. Dimeo Oct 13 '14 at 14:52
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    Pixel perfection - especially in the web world as it is ttoday - is pretty much impossible. Different screen resolutions, different browsers, different html standards, webkit, different OSs, user zoom settings... It's impossible to get a UI to look the same on all devices. And why should it? Aim for the minimum viable product first, and then enhance it to get it closer to pixel perfection (if that is still a high priority). And besides; what is more important to be testing - functionality, speed, accuracy, validation.. or whether the headers are the right spacing from eachother? – JonW Oct 13 '14 at 16:16
  • In an effort to get some data that would support my argument for an overhaul of the dated, clunky, and downright ugly UI (of the main web app I work on) I surveyed our users with some questions asking them to rate how much they cared about aspects design aesthetics and visual appearance. To my surprise and disappointment, I found that the vast majority users didn't really (or claimed not to) care about how things looked - only how they worked. I didn't get my sign off, the app still looks the same, users are still happy. – dennislees Oct 13 '14 at 16:52
  • This may or not be the case in your situation, but it points out that it's easy to let personal hobbyhorses affect our view of what's really important to users, and can potentially lead to the types of imbalances that lead to poor products. – dennislees Oct 13 '14 at 16:58

Actually, I would be surprised if the development work isn't pixel perfect. Developers need logic and rules for programming, and if you are not supplying them with a style guide that they can plug into their development framework then I should think they will be asking you a question every five minutes about the spacing or alignment or hex value for the colours.

I think the reason why most development work tend not to be pixel perfect is because of the way design details are communicated to developers. If you simply provide slices of your Photoshop files rather than rules and guidelines that document the design rationale and style, then most developers would struggle to work out exactly what it is.

Also, if you start your design work from scratch rather than from a development framework like Twitter Bootstrap or Foundation then you'll also find that the developers are trying to build customized components with no agreed rules around how they are constructed from code. Again this will be a source of inconsistency if you don't have a very good documentation or communication process.

In summary, pixel imperfection is a result of gaps in communication and process, just as problems in requirement specification documents are the result of gaps in communication between the business owner and the analysts or developers. I actually have problems with testers raising defects due to 'pixel' imperfection issues more than anything else in the age of UX design, whereas I think the main focus should still be on the logic and workflow of the application, but that's another topic.

  • Does your answer still hold true if I tell you that I have provided my developers with an extensive UI/UX Manual? I have every pixel documented essentially, complete with images illustrating spacing, alignment, and styles. I will also add that my team and I are coming in to this project half way through, and are being asked to redesign a piece of software that was originally designed by the developers themselves. I agree fully that poor communication can cause some pretty terrible problems but I think I have covered my bases with this one. – S. Gilbert Oct 13 '14 at 21:08
  • If you've given them the exact specifics of what you want, then it's okay to fail them if they're not meeting your guidelines. Them not wanting to read through your manual to find the exact number they're looking for is not an excuse, though you should try your best to make it easy for them to find a specific detail. Let them know they can contact you if they have any questions. – Chase Sandmann Oct 13 '14 at 22:31
  • @S.Gilbert My answer still holds true in the sense that communication should be a two-way street, and what you provided for them should facilitate discussion and changes for both parties. If they don't want to collaborate then I think they only have themselves to blame for the end result. From a theoretical and technical perspective I don't see why designs can't be translated to implementation in a pixel perfect way. – Michael Lai Oct 14 '14 at 1:23
  • I agree with this—one of the main causes for design proofs and finished products not being pixel perfect is that developers are producing rules (e.g., a button has four pixels padding on either side of the content), whereas establishing that sort of consistency in Photoshop is remarkably tricky for a designer (so it tends to be done by eye instead). That means there are subtle variations in different places of the interface and the developer (or someone else) needs to make decisions about which variations are deliberate. – Kit Grose Oct 14 '14 at 2:16

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