Developers as Designers? It Needs to Happen
It's time to stop thinking of "design" as a dirty word, and UI as the sole domain of the folks at the other end of the cubicle farm.
Most developers I know aren't all that interested in style -- and I'm not just talking about in terms of dress. But the days of completely ignoring how your programs look, concentrating on nothing but function, are gone. It's time to stop thinking of "design" as a dirty word, and UI as the sole domain of the folks at the other end of the cubicle farm.
That's because we're in the era of Windows 8 and mobile computing. As displays get smaller and touchscreens proliferate, you no longer have the option of thinking only about arrays, for loops and refactoring -- in many ways, now, form is function. When I type on a tablet, I expect -- and need -- a different experience. You must keep that thought in mind as you do everything, even if you're mainly a coder.
Fortunately, Visual Studio 2012 is here to help. One of the best new features that produces maximum awesomeness is PowerPoint Storyboarding. Talk about a tool that helps you think visually. The integration with Visual Studio 2012 is remarkable. Even if you don't believe you have an ounce of artistic ability (and I don't), you can still do some amazing things with Storyboarding.
It has tons of built-in templates for things like screen backgrounds, and standard controls such as data grids, calendars and scrollbars -- even animations. It's perfect if you're a one- or two-developer shop, because you can create an attractive program without a design team. If you have a design team, it's even better, because the functionality and flexibility of PowerPoint can be leveraged within Visual Studio 2012 itself to birth a sensational UI/UX. In fact, PowerPoint Storyboarding might be enough reason on its own to justify the expense of the upgrade from Visual Studio 2008 or 2010.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.