About this talk
If you're a developer who's going to work with designers in any capacity, then chances are high that at some point you'll be presented with a design system. Understanding your way around that system will improve your understanding of how designs and prototypes are meant to be translated into code, as well as making your life easier by providing quick access to resources. A lot of devs hear the word "design" and immediately tune out, but that's a mistake! Learn what's in a design system, how they improve design/dev collaboration, and how you can get the most out of this incredible resource.
🌈 Comment below and ask me questions — I might just answer them during my live speaker discussion!
Hi! I'm Kathryn Grayson Nanz. I graduated with a BFA in 2013 and took my first job as junior graphic designer at a small ad agency. While there, my Creative Director warned me to never let anyone find out I could code because I'd be stuck doing it forever. I ignored this and it turns out he was 100% right — but I've never been happier. I currently work as a dev advocate where I help people build web apps in React, design/maintain component libraries, and stop back-end devs from writing CSS.
This on-demand talk is part of CodeLand 2022 — a virtual conference brought to you by CodeNewbie & DEV on June 16 & 17, 2022.
Top comments (32)
Hello! Based off the talk and some of the chat in the Discord earlier (especially your comment "you don't have to be a master at everything, but it's nice to dabble")
My question is how would you recommend someone that has mostly/only been in the development/IT side to learn basic design in general (and/or UI/UX design, I am unsure how the different types of design is classified)?
Thank you again for the talk!
Hey there! There are a few resources I'd recommend:
But mostly, you just gotta start designing stuff and practice practice practice! I wish I could say there was a magic wand, but there's not. The more you do it, the more you will learn and improve!
I am new @ this new journey, in my opinion Design is such a vast topic that is an upcoming and important concept and trend. I could see that colors have changed in new sites as well some of the ones involved directly in Cyber, DevOps, Health care and many others...
This talk taught me a lot! I always wondered how huge teams manage to make such consistently beautiful designs in their products and I got my answer in this talk! Design tokens, component libraries, style guides, WOW! This is such a systematic and organised way of doing things and also makes me less scared of approaching the front-end as a developer.
Thank you so much for the great talk! @kathryngrayson
Designer + Programmer. UI/UX + Developer. I feel like as more and more people dive into the programming world, design is becoming an important skill to have. "You don't have to be a master at everything, but it's nice to dabble" really resonated with me, (and everyone on the Discord channel). Thank you for bringing design into light for us!
Woahh.. most waited talk😍🤩🤗
Excellent talk, Kathryn!
How has interacting with other open source contributors and maintainers helped you deal with impostor's syndrome?
So sorry, I posted this question in the wrong post. I have all the talks open so I can ask questions and I just got mixed up. 😊
However, I do have a question for you!!
I meant to ask:
Your talk really was awesome! 🙌
Hey there! Glad you enjoyed the talk! Also, excellent question.
So design has a huge overlap with trust. Imagine walking into a physical store that was messy, cluttered, uncomfortable, or made you feel unsafe in some way – you'd probably leave and not come back, right? Websites are the same way.
When we're building an app or website, we're almost always asking a user to trust us with something – that could be personal data (account information, email address, personal information, etc), financial data (credit card numbers, bank routing numbers), etc.
If you've ever accidentally opened a phishing or scam email before, you've seen design that doesn't look trustworthy. Things just look "off" – unprofessional, careless, inconsistent, etc. Those things have become visual red flags to us. Users have come to expect a certain amount of professionalism and polish in a site/app, and if we don't deliver it...we run the risk of not feeling trustworthy.
The consequences to this usually start with reduced interaction (not feeling comfortable inputting information) and end with simply not using the app or website at all.
Let me know if this answers your question!
I also have a background in graphic design but doing freelance. I love having that because I feel like I can leverage that aspect of myself and my eye for aesthetic rather than solely having developer skills. How was your experience with having that background when initially looking for a developer position?
These days, I try to use it as a selling point, as much as I can – as you mentioned, it can really be something useful, something else you can bring to the table in ADDITION to your dev skills! When speaking with potential employers, I try to highlight that as much as possible.
When I was first starting, I was almost ashamed of it. I felt a lot of embarrassment over not having a Computer Sciences degree, and I often kind of glossed over design-related things and tried to steer the conversation towards dev topics as much as possible. I wanted people to see me as a developer and take me seriously that way – and at first, I thought my design degree undermined that.
Now, I wish I had embraced my design skills earlier in my career and really leaned into that as the unique selling point that it is. We're designer/dev hybrid unicorns!! That's really awesome
A little off topic but what is a developer advocate? and how did you become one?
A Developer Advocate is a type of software engineer that focuses on the relationship between a development tool and it's dev users. You might have also heard the title called Developer Relations or Tech Evangelist (although that one is – rightfully, IMO – fading in popularity, haha).
As part of my day-to-day, I speak at conferences, write blogs, work on documentation, record videos, create demos, stream on our Twitch channel, and talk to our users wherever they are (Twitter, Slack, our forums, etc). It's an incredibly fun job and combines a lot of the stuff I enjoy: coding, teaching, writing, streaming, and conferences!
I was extremely lucky to be recruited for my current job, so I don't think I have a typical "getting into DevRel" story – but I was referred by someone at my now-current company and the team lead reached out to me to see if this was something I'd be interested in. Obviously it was!
Before I was approached, though, I was already doing lots of blog writing and conference speaking, which gave them many examples of my work. If you're thinking about moving into Dev Advocacy, I'd recommend creating content: blogs, videos, streams, talks, whatever you enjoy most. Those things were all huge benefits to my career even before DevRel.
What is the difference between a web designer and a web developer?
More and more, that line is starting to blur! But I'd say that at the root, a web designer isn't expected to know how to code and a web developer isn't expected to know design software (like Figma). There's obviously lots of overlap (more and more with each day, it seems!), but the core skillset is different.
Thanks for your reply.
Why do you think it is that many software developers don't demonstrate curiosity when it comes to design? Isn't design an inherent part of building anything? 😃
I think a lot of folks have bought into the myth that art and design are something special that you have to have "the eye" for, or some kind of natural talent or disposition. And if that's the position you're coming from, then yeah, why bother, right? I don't believe this is true – design is a science and anyone can (and should!) learn it. I agree very much with what you said about design being an inherent part of building. The more you level up your design skills, the more you'll see the benefits everywhere: not just picking out colors or setting type. It's a problem-solving mindset that you'll always be able to leverage!
Thanks for your reply ! 😁🌈
Wow, Great talk!!!
What would be a good resource for a web developer who wants to learn the basics of web design?
I love working with my designers. It has really made me have a better eye for things. I am able to make suggestions and collaborate. In the end, we come up with a stunning user friendly site.
I love design !!
You talked a bit about component libraries — I'm new to coding and have never used one before. Any tips for putting one together OR working with one?
Absolutely! I'd recommend checking out this blog post I wrote: dev.to/kathryngrayson/case-study-b...
That will go over all the parts of a component library and how to build them. And feel free to reach out if you have any questions at all!