Oh, So You Code

Every now and then I attend a family function or social outing where I meet someone new. Typically after learning my name, the next question is always around jobs. Here’s how the conversation plays out 99% of the time:

Curious stranger - So, what do you do?

Me - I work at a software company in Michigan doing software design!

Curious stranger - OH cool! So you like, code?

Me - Well, not usually… You’re probably thinking of a developer. I design the layouts and workflows for how the app should function, and then work with the developers while they build it. 

Curious stranger - Oh. I gotcha. So can you code a website for my aunt’s new jam business? It’s going to be sweet, she made the labels herself in Microsoft Paint.

Me - Ah neat, Paint.

I get it. User Experience designers are mysterious and mystical beings. We’re relatively new to the streets and still making a name for ourselves. Every company defines their UX role differently, and there are a number of titles that encompass skills we perform, from product designer to user interface architect. And although historically the roles of development and design have often been drastically different, today they’re as blurry as ever. With as much web work as I was doing, I began to get curious. 

Trying to explain animations to a coworker is like trying to teach someone a dance at a wedding by yelling the steps into a microphone. There is a lot of room for interpretation, and without showing an example you’re likely to end up with amusing results. Don’t get me wrong, there are products like Principle making it immensely easier to mock up animations quickly, allowing you to adjust the easing and interpolation in seconds. But sometimes, you’ve just got to jump onto the dance floor yourself. Codepen.io continues to be my go-to for mocking up animations in CSS.

To me, coding is a lot like cooking. I love to steal killer ideas and combine recipes, but leave one key ingredient out… and the whole dish goes to shit. When I found out my best friend was getting married, I was so excited to work on her invitations and menus, but I also thought it would be a great time to push my development skills. So, here I am building her website from scratch. 

It’s been a great journey, and the online classes have been both entertaining and exhilarating. We’ll still be covering paragraph tags and I’ll be trying to adjust the letter spacing because Lord help me if I have to continue to stare at those cramped headlines. CSS is glorious. I can’t wait to share more with you when the site is finished, but I might be busy designing some jam labels….

Samantha NovakComment