How Learning Design Can Make You a Better Backend Developer

Lois Ingram
Published 08/24/2021
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Design for BackendWe often put creative professionals and all kinds under pressure to substantiate their skills and develop a better understanding of the technicalities that support their line of work. However, those in more technical fields, such as web development, are seldom convinced that a lesson in creativity or design could benefit their career path.

Back-end web developers are rarely required to understand the method of conceptualization and design that goes into a project. Even though these also require a highly specialized skill set. But in the highly competitive tech industry of today, companies are looking for back-end developers with a much broader scope of understanding about their field than before.

Here are six reasons back-end developers should consider learning design and front-end development basics to improve their ability to code and provide more of a full-stack service:


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Handle Projects Solo

As a back-end developer, your job is to put form to the formless, and turn visions into tangible reality. The web designer’s job is to see the vision, and ensure it gets executed in an attractive yet functional way, often in collaboration with a front-end developer.

But what would happen if you could do it all?

You could conceptualize, design, and then execute whole projects. You wouldn’t have to outsource any design work as you would do it all in-house.

While a solo project certainly requires a huge amount of effort and time, having the ability to play a role in every phase of design and front-and-back-end development will mean that you can have total control over each step.

Solo projects are not only satisfying—they are also extremely financially rewarding and worthy of your competitor’s respect. They highlight your range of skills and make you more versatile in the industry.

Improve Your Understanding of UX 

The job of a UX designer is to pre-empt the natural trajectory of the average user. Then provide them with a layout that accurately matches their needs and expectations. As a back-end developer, you will not typically have a hand in this process. But doing so could improve your ability to program intuitive code.

Being involved in the design process for projects you code on will deepen your understanding of why you are being asked to code in a certain way. This may make your coding process a more fluid and convincing practice that results in even more engaging websites and projects. 

UX has become one of the most essential elements of web design. With the massive growth of mobile use and subsequent optimization, it’s a crucial component of every website and app. Having a great understanding of it broadens your knowledge base and ensures your finger is on the pulse of UI trends.

Enhance Communication with Designers 

Many front-end developers learn design to facilitate better communication with designers, and back-end developers should take note of this.

The dramatic contrast between the approaches of designers versus back-end developers is well known. It also means that there’s often a tendency for (mostly) good natured back-and-forth between the two. Designers are seen as the creatives, and back-end developers as the technical gurus, with a lot of ground between the two.

While front-end developers generally work closely with designers and often have a crossover skill set, back-end developers tend to have less involvement, if any at all. Their brief will focus on the server side of the build, while designers and front-end developers focus on the client facing side of a site or app.

However, this division could become much less apparent if backend-developers gained a better perspective of what the designer really does. A mutual respect between designers and back-end developers will mean less overall tension during crunch time. And much more efficient communication between all stakeholders on collaborative projects.



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Stimulate Creativity

Contrary to popular belief (though no doubt understood well by experienced developers), coding is an inherently creative process. It requires creative thinking, problem solving, and execution that people outside of the tech industry do not recognize.

Creativity is actually one of the things which ties together web design, front-end, and back-end development. They all require intensive focus, long hours of work, and an exceptional eye for detail.

Creativity is a muscle that needs regular exercise if it is going to produce sustainable results. Choosing to delve into the other half of what you do every day will certainly stimulate that creative muscle. Plus, it will help you produce work of a superior quality.

Improve Your Work Prospects 

According to a 2020 CIO study, developers are amongst the top ten most sought-after jobs in the world. However, it’s also one of the most competitive jobs in the world. This means that finding work can be tough when you are only familiar with back-end web design. 

Being able to add design and front-end development to your resume will undoubtedly improve your hiring prospects. A diverse, well-rounded portfolio of professional skills will give you a leg-up in this extremely fast-paced and competitive new industry. 

Having more than one specialty skill will advertise dedication to your work and your collaboration potential. It also highlights an unusual ability to grasp complex concepts that will impress employers.

Break The Developer Mold

As is with any major field or career path, there are certain stereotypes or social categories you’re placed into by default of working in them. Many people associate back-end developers as purely logic driven. They see them as left-brained, and unable to relate to creative thinking or production.

While it’s somewhat understandable why those outside of the industry might have these perceptions (at times, you may even believe them yourself), the truth is somewhat different. Developers are not any less or more capable of being creative than anybody else.

Trying out design is an opportunity for you to explore a new frontier. You may prove to yourself and others that you are just as creative as any designer.

Diversify Your Career Through Design 

Clearly, there are several valid and comprehensive reasons back-end developers should consider pursuing an interest in, and an understanding of, design. Not only will it demonstrate your flexibility as an employee, it can also contribute towards the production of more intuitive and functional programming.

In a world that now essentially revolves around technology, the need for designers and developers of every kind becomes all the more relevant. 

While this does mean more job opportunities and potential for growth, it also means competing in a highly saturated market for whatever openings occur. Showing interest in an element of development that coding already has a connection to will allow for more diverse career opportunities that see you dominating the future tech industry

With the combination of both design and development under your belt, your chances of leading a long, satisfying and successful career in the technology industry are significantly higher.