I still remember an early time in my career working as a development contractor a local design agency back in my hometown Kelowna, BC. That’s in Canada for those that don’t know (British Columbia). The designers there were good, really good. Well trained, design grads, young and talented. They used to joke about some of the design work I did, about how I only used 1 color (burgundy). I was really into burgundy for some reason. Which is not really an easy color to work with. As a programmer design just wasn’t my forte, that’s the conclusion I reached. And over the years I was always facing that reality anytime I was in a situation that needed design. I just felt like I knew enough to get part-way, but just couldn’t produce the final results.
Over the years I think design has become more accessible to “non-designers”. In much the same way building websites has become easy for non-coders, and doing some front-end coding has become easier for designers. The democracy of the different areas of creative production seems to be working. Figma for instance takes away that learning curve we associate with the traditional design software suites like Adobe. Figma provides a lot of great features, more than most users will ever want or need… yet it keeps the interface relatively simple. Selecting things is easy. Moving things around is easy. Figuring out what colors to use… well that’s not so easy. But at least we can focus on the design choices instead of asking how the software is supposed to work. It’s intuitive, as great software should be. The best way to learn software, is when it’s just obvious or reasonably clear how to do what we want to do. That’s something we try to incorporate into Saber Commerce as well.
I know longer use burgundy in my design work. I’m not opposed to it, but I typically stick with easier to work with colors like blue. And I lean on existing color schemes or material color selection to help make those choices simpler. In the early days of Saber Commerce, I hired a designer to help with the UX. What I found was although we got some very creative and interesting ideas back… the concepts were so vastly different from how I imagined the plugin to work, that it was too far from the vision. Because I had access to Figma I was able to use it to make what were initially just wireframes. I still planned to hand the work over to a “qualified designer” at some point. But then as my confidence grew with the tools in Figma, and as I started to actually like the UX that I was shaping… I started questioning why I ever stopped designing in the first place. Because in my heart of hearts, I’m more passionate about the process of design than I am about the process of programming and engineering the product.