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Experience Design

Front-end Developers are UX Designers too

A little while back I wrote this nugget of wisdom:

Creating a great user experience extends beyond the research, beyond the wireframes, and even beyond the visual design. All that hard work is ultimately for nothing if your website or web application isn’t fast. Why? Because if your site doesn’t load quickly, your users will go elsewhere very quickly indeed!

I was focusing on the performance of your website in that post, but there’s a more general point to be made: That a great user experience requires great front-end development.

In November of last year, I became the Practice Lead for the Innovation & Implementation team within Perficient’s XD (Experience Design) group. Part of my responsibilities include preaching to you guys on the importance of great development. Great development that’s owned and performed by a team that’s as much about User Experience as the person who did the research, or created the wireframes.
But why is that? Why is it important to us at Perficient XD that a role that is typically part of IT actually forms a key part of our services?

Developers are Designers, Designers are Developers

I don’t much like the term “front-end developer”. It implies a lack of creativity – someone who is on the team strictly to code. But someone truly adept at the front-end (and I’m lucky to work with a whole slew of ’em here!) thinks like a designer too. They understand nuance and the language of design, and can talk to technologies that improve the product. A great front-end developer isn’t a developer at all. They’re a designer.

We Own What We Do

I like owning a solution from start to finish. We work with a multitude of clients, and sometimes we drop into a project part-way through, or finish our engagement before the solution launches. That’s all fine, and the nature of the services we as XD offer. But I personally believe that the very best work comes from a top-to-tail approach, and that includes front-end development. XD is very proud to be a full-service creative agency – no subbing out work here thankyouverymuch! – and owning the front-end development part of the project means we can align that portion of the project to the rest of the work we’ve done. Code optimization for example, is hugely important to us (for reasons I’ve mentioned previously) and we believe fervently that the very best user experiences come from a place where the code has as much love and attention given to it as the creative.

Iterating faster

There’s nothing more frustrating than being told by a developer, “We can’t do that.” It means hours of revisions to a set of designs that may have already been through one set of approvals. When XD owns a solution, our Interaction Designers can quickly get answers to technical questions. No big deal. And having Innovation & Implementation as part of the core delivery team from the get-go means we’re a part of the conversations that lead up to design decisions being made, so no nasty surprises!


Ultimately, a user’s experience on the Web is successful only if the team that delivered the final code that is executed in your user’s browsers is the very best it can possibly be. In XD, close collaboration and a mindset whereby everyone is encouraged to think like a designer, means we’re able to offer design solutions that are unique, and an execution model that’s modern and constantly evolving.

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Martin Ridgway

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