But I'm a Backend Developer!

Today I watched a fantastic talk given by Mark Rigley: Beauty Works. It challenged me to address my greatest weakness as a developer: design.

I encourage you to watch the talk: its incredibly well done. The broad strokes of Mark's story echo my own. I'm a scientist, and now, an engineer. While I love music and opera, most other forms of aesthetic art and beauty have never resonated with me. I've gone so far as to adopt really specific neuroscience opionions about the brain's ability to visualize space and shape: I must have this brain that works really differently from a "artist's" brain.

I am a backend developer. I love PHP, I love complex models, I love infrastructure, I love testing. I love Javacsript too, sure: implementing reducers, defining patterns, navigating the delightful world of node dependencies. Actually making a website look good? That's someone else's job. I write the code, they clean it up.

In some sense this website, in its current iteration, is a testament to that. I'm above design and aesthetics.

As Mark says, "That worked OK. Until my team got a bit bigger, and I found myself with designers reporting to me". I find myself in a similar crossrouds. If I want to continue to grow as a lead deveopler, as a technology expert, I need to acknowledge this truth: there is a science of beauty, of design, especially in web development.

From the talk:

An aircraft that looks beautiful will fly the same way.

Is UX not, as a field, the expression of this idea? We build things, and if they accomplish the job while delighting the user with their aesthetic and intuitiveness, then we have succeeded.

Maybe years from now I'll be in a place where I can be proud of the design of this site. Until then, I intend to learn what I can of design principles and use this site as a playground for them.