I'm Jon Olick. I make shiny things. I simplify.

I presented Sparse Voxel Octrees at Siggraph 2008.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Designers should Learn to Code, Even if Poorly

2,500 years ago, a Greek writer told us something about creating software: Thucydides wrote, "The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."

The same is true for companies that separate their designers from their engineers. The most important trait a team can have is empathy. Without it, the engineers will not care, and the designers will not be realistic. When companies complain of specs and code being "thrown out the window", a lack of empathy is to blame.

The best way to create empathy as a designer is to make a prototype. It meets the rest of the team half-way and gives you a sense of what's hard and what's easy to implement. Having thought through the edge-cases and being able to speak an engineer's language gives you street cred. You don't need to be a great coder, but you should at least be able to get your idea across in a scripting language.

To design is to inspire participation. To do that you need to be respected. For that you need to be a designer-coder.

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