Interview with Flurin & Adrian Egger: Where design and technology meet
As a diamond sponsor of the Frontend Conference Zurich on 27 and 28 August, we had the exclusive opportunity to conduct interviews with selected speakers. You shared your experiences and opinions about the exciting interplay between design and technology. Thank you for the inspirational food for thought!
The Frontend Conference’s slogan is “where design meets technology”. Do they meet often enough?
It depends on how you define design. In our opinion ‘how something works’ is just as much design as ‘how something looks’. By that definition, technology might be considered design, so they’re not really separable. However, when we’re talking about webdesign and especially about graphic design for the web, they don’t meet often enough in our opinion. There is still remarkably low interest in the stuff the web is actually made of from designers. And the reverse is also true, there are a lot of developers that think that design is a necessary evil. That has to change. And when we change it we can have better workflows, better products, and better user experiences.
Does «designing in the browser» work for every customer? Or do you choose different approaches depending on the client?
Designing in code works for pretty much all clients in our experience. The familiarity with designing in code as a workflow is not high enough (yet). Currently we find that most clients care about design in code about as much as you’d care what kind of hammer your carpenter uses. This is especially apparent before projects start — once we start, they do understand the benefits when they get to see working (responsive) prototypes at very early stages. In our experience, our clients first and foremost care about results. The point isn’t that you can’t get nice results with Photoshop. The point is that you can get better results faster with design in code.
What is the main obstacle in moving from Photoshop to the browser?
Complacency, for the most part. And fear of change. It affected Adrian too for quite some time. When you have spent the better part of your career in Photoshop/Illustrator/Whatever it can be very daunting to switch to code. There are also some misconceptions about what designing in code really is, but on the surface designing in code looks like too much hassle for many designers.
Where do you see the role of design tools auto-generating frontend code?
We see no role for them. Design in code is a way to work better together and have a smoother workflow — independent of tools. It’s a part of a larger workflow that requires us to work together and iterate towards a production-ready piece of code. If you just replace Photoshop by another tool, which is also an abstraction, designers still can’t iterate on their work together with front-end developers. And what comes out of these auto-generating tools is fairly mediocre code. Which means you effectively demote the front-end developer to clean-up duty; they only get to shovel through the mess and “correct” it. Now where’s the fun in that? Designing in code actually involves developers much more intensely at an early stage to make the most of their expertise.
Regarding designing in the browser: Which web feature (present or upcoming) are you most excited about?
We’re pretty happy with CSS in general as it stands today. CSS is finally mature enough so designers can create much of what they want to make without (too many) dirty hacks. Particularly flex-box has made things that used to be very hard (or impossible) quite easy. That goes for both design as well as front-end development.