On “unicorns”

I’ve never been sure of my true title in the web world. “Designer” and “Developer” both feel incomplete. I recently discovered Brad Frost’s post on the topic, and I feel reassured that I’m not alone. There’s a lot of overlapping territory between the two disciplines, and that’s terrain I am proud to inhabit. By embodying both a designer and a developer, I get to skip a lot of overhead in terms of design documentation, and I also don’t produce designs that are impossible to implement. Don’t get me wrong–I think there’s inherent value in disregarding everything you know about tradition, convention, and feasibility during certain parts of the design process…as in, the very start. The rest of the process is about honing and refining, and in the process figuring out just how you’re going to get the boat afloat. And although I am adamantly opposed to defining design as “making things pretty,” it doesn’t hurt to be able to make aesthetic improvements on-the-fly as a programmer.

I’m not sure that “design-eloper” or “unicorn” will take off as a generalized discipline. It seems too easy to fall into the “jack of all trades, master of none” trap. I also buy the argument for specialized disciplines–it just depends on the team. However, as an individual pursuit, I believe in us hybrids. I am simultaneously passionate about good design and quality code–to me it feels like they’re ultimately the same concept. So it is with this spirit and passion that I proudly embrace a new label: Kim Bryant, UX Unicorn.


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