Building a digital product is not an easy journey, and if you’ve ever at least started one, you surely realize how many elements it consists of. There are various details that need to be taken into account to ensure the project’s success. Even though some of them may seem insignificant to you, in fact, they often have a huge impact on the performance and popularity of your product. One of these elements is design!

A thoughtful design of your app’s interface can massively improve your users’ experience. And proper UX (user experience) makes people want to use your product. Why? Because it makes it intuitive, easy, and fun to use – and believe me, your users don’t want to struggle with finding features and needed information. If they have to, they will most likely stop using your app even faster than they started. And it’s highly doubtful they will give it a second try anytime soon (if ever).

From a developer’s perspective, I can honestly tell you that having a designer’s guidance during the project makes our life (meaning work) way much easier. It helps organize the workflow and gives us a clear perspective of the path we should follow to fulfill the project’s requirements. It protects us from the necessity of wasting time on moving back, re-checking, and re-building components that don’t work properly together because they were not well thought through at the beginning. It also saves us lots of frustration and confusion during the project – which, in the end, helps us work more efficiently and provide better results.

There are many assumptions based on thinking about a designer as an unnecessary extravagance that can lead to various problems in your project or even its failure. That is why, in this article, we want to dive into them and reveal the truth that can have a significant impact on your project’s success. So… let’s take a look!

Why do you need a designer in your project?

I don’t need a designer because…

1. I know how I want my app to look like

Think of the project-making process as going to the gym. Let’s say your body is the project, and muscles are the developers. You go to the place. You know exactly what you want your body to look like. You pick multiple exercises by intuition. You spend much time going every other day, exhausting yourself to the limits. If the activities were chosen without professional knowledge, not only your results wouldn’t be as effective as your effort put into it, but there is a possibility of injury if you exhaust some part of your muscles unevenly. 

And there comes the personal trainer role – designer equivalent in the project. With their help, not only you’d save valuable time, but your body would look better than ever – so will your project with the designer’s support. If the visuals of the functionality are considered properly, your team can allocate their resources evenly. The back-end and front-end developers have a much easier time discussing the division of work together. Progress across the whole team is balanced; thus, the job can be completed quicker. And that’s surely what you want to achieve. 

Think of it that way: after all, you hire specialists for your project anyways. You want to make sure your product will be well developed; therefore, you choose the best developers. You should apply the same approach to design. Wanting your product to be attractive and convenient for your users, you need a specialist who will help you make it happen.

2. I already have the design

If you’ve got the designs already – that’s fantastic. Having your ideas presented visually will help the team understand the vision for your product. The problem is that there can, and for sure will be, a lack of some previously unpredicted paths in the designs, no matter if they were prepared by a professional designer or not. You may ask – how come? After all, I keep telling you that having a designer should save you from understatements and inconsistencies. Let me explain.

Product development is a dynamic process. It can never be entirely predictable, and not every case can be thought of before actual work on functionality. (That’s also one of the reasons why you’ll never get a detailed calculation of your project but only the estimates). Therefore, the presence of a designer in the team covers your back on a few different levels:

1. An experienced specialist, having already many projects in his portfolio, has a better understanding of possible scenarios and can predict more potential paths. Thanks to that, such a person is able to prepare a more detailed design, which significantly reduces the risk of understatements, inconsistencies, or other problems that would require fixing (meaning: wasting your time and money) in the future. 

2. If some unpredicted path will occur anyways, having a good designer on board makes it much easier to fill in the missing pieces or find a new approach to implementing some components. This way, the project can move forward without losing too much time (and money) trying to figure out the best solution. 

3. An “unpredicted path” can also be a scenario in which, during the development process, you want to add to your application a new, undiscussed before functionality. Naturally, adding it requires extra time – so budget estimates for your project grow. It can grow even more if the new functionality collides with the project’s fundamental assumptions (like architecture decisions) or is harder to implement than expected. In such cases, the support of an experienced designer is priceless. Without it, figuring out the proper implementation may (and most probably would) consume lots of time spent on testing various approaches and solutions – what, again, would unnecessarily hit your budget. 

4. In cases like the one described before, the support of a professional designer brings you one more benefit. If you come up with an idea for new functionality, the first step would be adding it to the existing designs. Having your ideas transferred to designs before implementing anything makes you aware of a scale of suggested changes. It means it gives you a chance to properly assess if such a change is actually worth the time and resources it could consume. Thanks to that, you avoid the risk of moving on with the idea that would cost you a lot but wouldn’t improve your product significantly enough.

What’s also worth mentioning here: it’s commonly known that it’s usually easier to build something from scratch than integrate with someone else’s work – and so it is in the case of digital product design as well. So when you have a designer working on the design from the very beginning, it’s much easier for such a person to adjust any changes or additions. But if you didn’t have one before and you realize that you need one in the middle of the development process, you may end up paying double – because when the new designer will be doing his work, your developers won’t be able to move any further.

Digital product desiger vs developers

If you don’t have the designer, you could also probably think that…

3. The developers can come up with their ideas for UI

Being the developer myself, I can say that such an assumption can result in the team being frustrated and exhausted from thinking about the proper way to fit all the elements into the layout. Each developer writes the code differently. Structure, architecture, and different conventions aren’t a problem, but the layout differences and design approaches that come with it may become one. Even in the case of something as simple as switching an item to another state using a transition. An experienced designer has a sense of which animation fits the component and how to unify them through the whole application.

As you can see below, both items are animated, so the requirements are satisfied – but the movement of each element differs a bit. If we want to animate opening a sidebar, animation on the left seems to be more appropriate because it’s more natural – it behaves similarly to how a drawer in real life moves when we open or close it. Even though it may seem irrelevant, such a detail affects the user experience and overall comfort of using the application. A good designer has a wide knowledge about such nuances and can design them correctly, ensuring that all the elements of your project will act properly and provide the best possible user experience to the people using your app.

Source: androiduiux

Even if every team member has a sense of what looks good and what doesn’t, one may like snappy UI that will just get the work done, while the other prefers complex animations that keep the user’s attention. Without a person who’d be responsible for deciding which is the best option for your product (and aligning the approach of all the developers at an early stage), your interface can end up being incoherent. Result? At some point, you and the developers would have to spend a lot of time correcting it. 

Of course, your team communicates with each other, and you give them regular feedback. Still, since it’s really time- and resource-consuming, it’s truly inconvenient to leave thinking about the UI/UX approach to your developers. But if you have someone to take care of the design overall, your developers get clear instructions on what and how should be done – what makes them able to work more efficiently and avoid inconsistencies.

Read also: What are UI/UX differences you should know about?

Let’s say your app has to work on mobile devices, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers, and you want a new navigation bar in your application. Every developer takes care of their best-known environment and has to figure out how to implement the functionality so it displays correctly on a particular device. The desktop developer came up with fancy on-hover animations based on the button’s action. Since the standard smartphone’s input is a touch screen, there is no “hover” action, so the desktop approach can’t be used here. What about a tablet that can be controlled either via mouse or a touch screen? Also, think about the laptops with touchpads that can take some gestures that others can’t. You probably already get the idea. If your project is anything other than a straightforward internal application, there is no way that developers can take care of business logic, site performance, and all of the things mentioned above by themselves.

There are so many possibilities that could be standardized and problems that could be avoided by hiring a separate person to take care of the designs. So if you want to have the most qualitative product around, having a designer is mandatory.

4. I’ve got a limited budget

The two most common ways to pay the developers for their work are per hour or per day. It means that you are directly paying someone for their time spent on a project. 

There are many paths which developing process can follow. Considering time being the most critical value, the worst-case scenario is an unoptimized process: the lack of clear guidelines, proper design, workflow, etc. When the workflow and design aren’t entirely clear, developers end up wasting time figuring out how to approach a problem without even having a clear view of the expected effect. Such a situation will most certainly cause the need for additional re-works and fixes. As well as additional meetings and planning since back-end and front-end teams often have to work together on a particular functionality – and if they don’t have clear guidelines, they naturally spend more time planning the proper workflow. 

If the development process lacks specific skills (like designer’s skills), it cannot be properly optimized. As a result, your developers spend much more time on the project, which means you spend much more money on them. There is no big cost difference between paying four people for a week and paying one person for a month. But your team composition makes a big difference when it comes to implementing your project – and paradoxically, hiring more people can actually save you money. Having a complete team with all the relevant skills on board, you will get your results quicker, as everyone will work much more efficiently – and shorter development time means less money spent. 

What is more, having a designer, you can instantly review his work without waiting for a demo from the developers. Thanks to that, you can discuss the design with your team and easily evaluate whether some functionalities or changes are actually worth the time and effort needed to implement them. You can also give the team the necessary feedback at the right time to have your product polished as much as possible without the need for future changes or fixes.

Let’s take a look at another example. Imagine your product has a functionality that allows granting employees access to specific spaces  – but only to one person at a time. At some point, you decide it would be more convenient if the access could be granted to a few people at once. Seems like an easy and quick change. But is it, really? As it’s a real-life example, let me tell you what happened. When the designer started applying the changes to the design, it occurred they could not be implemented without complete reconstruction of the whole feature – because many related elements needed to be redesigned to allow the new functionality to work properly. Thanks to the designs, the team could present to the client how demanding such a change is and discuss priorities. In the end, the client decided the change doesn’t impact the user experience enough to be worth the resources it would consume and that there are more important elements to focus on.

How does the designer's support affect the project implementation time?

5. I am short on time

And that is the perfect reason you especially want to hire a designer. Reading all the previous points, you probably already get the idea that, in every case, having a designer saves time. Of course, you need to consider the time required for preparing designs, but that is actually a constant element of every product development process. And to be precise – one of the most crucial ones, because the time invested in the designer’s work saves you from many unexpected problems and delays in the further steps of the project. And as you already know, a shorter development time means less money spent on the project overall.

6. I don’t have the knowledge to hire a competent designer

It’s actually a very common scenario, but there is also a simple solution: to hire an experienced agency. If you do so, your tech partner will cover choosing the right designer (as well as provide you with competent developers and other specialists, if needed), taking this responsibility off your shoulders. This way, you won’t have to worry whether you have time or enough knowledge to recruit the right person. Furthermore, if your agency provides the designer within the team, it’s highly likely that he already worked with the rest of the team members. That means they will easily get along and have better communication, which will result in higher efficiency. Thus, by choosing such a solution, you save yourself a lot of trouble and, again, precious time.

Why is it worth hiring a designer for your project? – summary

Even if you are not going big and want an internal application for your company, the advantages of hiring a designer outweigh all the cons you could think of (although, to be honest, I can’t think of any). Better process optimization, more precise budget estimates, higher effectiveness of the development team, minimizing the risk of understatements and inconsistencies, saving time… altogether, those benefits have a huge impact on your product development and, in the end, on its success. And after all, this is exactly what you want for your project, right? 😉

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