This isn't my job is not an answer

almost 6 years ago from , front end developer

It's kind of annoying to realise that even after 3 years of working as a front end developer I can't see 2 steps ahead of me. side note: i don't design stuff in sketch or ps, i just get the files from designers and code them.

I promised my client to send him the updated files last night but as I dug deeper i realised that it's impossible. At 3:00 AM i was blankly staring at a pretty simple cart checkout page which had to be done mobile friendly.

Problem was, that there was no design for mobile version, only a desktop one. Lazy designers or rushing industry, i can't blame anything. I've got freedom to act on my own. And with freedom to act on your own and freedom to improvise comes uncertainness.

My first reaction was irritation and anger. It's not my job. Why the hell do i have to think of how it should look on mobile? Where do i place these buttons? Okay, this part is unnecessary at all. Lazy designer! Why do i have to do his job?

But after that it hit me. Eureka. I'm not an insect. I shouldn't think like that. All these problems and solutions i take doesn't only make me a better developer. It expands my knowledge fields and makes me a developer with UI design and usability background. And i'm not saying that i don't have any usability or UX background.

What i'm trying to say here - open yourself, get involved, discuss, don't run from tasks that seem to be "not yours" - it broadens your horizons and makes you a better specialist.

Pardon my broken english.


  • John PJohn P, almost 6 years ago

    This seems like a good attitude to have but be careful, once you start walking down this path it no longer becomes giving 110% it becomes the new 100% of what you are expected to deliver.

    Similar to how in some places where you have a shitty management team it makes more sense to over-estimate times and work slower because when they inevitably pile on way more work in the same timespace you will be able to deliver it easily because you were never working at full capacity anyway.

    27 points
  • Cristian MoiseiCristian Moisei, almost 6 years ago

    While this attitude is great at getting you out of a jam, you are only filling a gap that someone else created and the project will suffer because of it.

    The mobile version you can put together will not only not be as good as what a designer could make, but it will also distract you from your real responsibilities - the stuff you're actually good at.

    I would try to avoid projects where responsibilities are not clearly defined and the people you work with are not willing to do their end of the work. If you work for a company, try speaking your mind about it and point out how inefficient it is to work like this.

    4 points
  • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, almost 6 years ago

    I'd like to think this is what defines all of us here at DN. It's what sets us apart from a large portion of "the rest" of the industry.

    We care about what we do, and care enough to (attempt to) deliver quality.

    4 points
  • Marcel ChristianisMarcel Christianis, almost 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing. Honestly I've felt this way a lot of time too. And to humble yourself that way is definitely not an easy task.

    What I want to commend you for is that, you're honest to yourself. You did get angry and disappointed. And that's okay, we're humans after all. But what matters is that you didn't leave it at that, but you evaluate your thoughts and proceed in taking the right action.

    I think this is a great lesson and reminders to us all that you're sharing.

    Thank you!

    3 points
  • Joe Blau, almost 6 years ago

    I've used this philosophy throughout my entire career and I can say that it's definitely helped me learn a lot more about other people's technical domains. Conversely, I will say that products where the whole team was professional, collaborating, and taking responsibility for their domain of expertise ended up significantly better than ones where myself or another team member were forced to work on something we weren't interested in or frankly that good at.

    There is a desktop application being used by over 25 million people to this day that I designed. At the time, I really had no business designing anything, but I picked up the task and now my name is attached to that.

    3 points
  • Jim SilvermanJim Silverman, almost 6 years ago

    yo, but it's not your job. communicate to the designer about the missing requirements.

    2 points
  • Jay RendonJay Rendon, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

    Great change of mindset from "It's not my job" to "expand my knowledge and makes me a better developer". This does not only make you a better developer but a great person to have in the team.

    The next step,after you get some sleep, is to work with the designer and say "Hey, I think you missed some design. I did this because we're on a rush. What do you think?".

    1 point
  • Wil NicholsWil Nichols, almost 6 years ago

    Great attitude to be able to have where necessary, but not one to take everywhere. Concretely dividing responsibility is a great way to prevent feature creep and to keep a project in line with original scope.

    For example — I'm consulting on a mobile app design update. I work on upper-level architectural docs, while the project manager (he has an engineering background) works closely with engineers in implementation. They realize that they need a feature that wasn't included in my earlier work, so they go ahead and do it themselves. This would be great if there were an approval loop — I'd come back and clean it up, put a new skin on it, improve type, etc, — except there is none. None of the design is their job, and in most cases, it shouldn't be. I've had plenty of experiences where I'm comfortable working with an engineer in this way, but only after we gain a mutual knowledge of each others' abilities.

    Or consider working with a less-experienced client. I'm hired for frontend design and IA. Client wants marketing work done, comes to be because "it's all graphic design." Yes, I can do it, even though it's not my job, but as a consultant, do I want to encourage that they rely on me, outside contract terms, for marketing work? If it's a one-off, it doesn't hurt, but rarely has it ever been "just a one-off." If my contract had included that work from Day 1, that'd be different — I likely wouldn't have taken the job, or looked for a higher rate.

    At the same time, in my day job, I've started writing production code for our web projects. I've written my own code and prototyped in HTML/CSS/JS for years, but now I'm writing my own production code and teaching the a few engineers how to animate. While this isn't my job, I enjoy doing it (and working more closely with the engineers in all circumstances — much tighter loop and faster, more precise turnaround). However, I've only been doing this after the engineering lead reviewed my prototypes and asked that I do so. I had his sign-off and authority before going ahead beyond my given purview. In this case, I'm happy to be able to do this, but I also wasn't going to presume that the quality of my code was on-par, or at least comparable, with the work of those who've trained and worked in this space much longer than I have.


    Love the attitude you've described, but know how far it goes. If you adopt it as blanket policy, you'll find clients who will unknowingly take advantage of your attitude, and you may find yourself in places where you actually aren't qualified to do the work you're doing.

    1 point
    • , almost 6 years ago

      Thanks for the reply, you are so right. I already have been in situations where this attitude leads to nothing but time and money drain.

      But I believe in a bright side of it - I personally don't want to bury my head in the sand and write plain html/css/javascript with clear specifications given to me. I don't even have a clear vision of what i want to do in the future but it's definitely a UI/UX related field - that's why i think that multiple cases likes this one are good.

      0 points
  • Ian GoodeIan Goode, almost 6 years ago

    Do you normally work at 3AM?

    1 point
    • , almost 6 years ago

      Nah, this time it was an exception. I just promised to finish and deliver without realising the scope and ended up working at night. Lazy workaholic i am.

      0 points
  • Shawn Pink, almost 6 years ago

    Great attitude. I always recommend developers learn the fundamentals of design, just like I recommend designers should know how to build a site in HTML and CSS.

    0 points
  • Matt ScheurichMatt Scheurich, almost 6 years ago

    Thank you for communicating your revelation! I've worked as planner, designer and developer and it frustrates me to hear when someone in the production chain says "not my job" as it doesn't really help the project or the team.

    I understand the sentiment for certain responsibilities and environments, but working together on a common goal means problem solving and coming up with solutions no matter the task or abilities (which can also mean communicating if bad management has lead to such a situation). I can understand people using it if they are already swamped, but generally I find it's such a road block to any kind of communal progress.

    0 points
  • Paul F, almost 6 years ago

    Wait. Was the designer briefed to design a mobile version? Do you know if had to go himself through countless pointless design amends that burnt the budget for a mobile version? was he paid for his work or was it again one of this "I will reward you once I'll have more money, this project is going to give you visibility" kind of project? So many details from the designer's side would help us define if he is or not a 'lazy designer'.

    0 points
  • Alexis Lombardi, almost 6 years ago


    0 points
  • Jan SemlerJan Semler, almost 6 years ago (edited almost 6 years ago )

    I think there are two ways to see it. First is that you run a business, and if you dont get paid for creating a design of a mobile checkout page only for the development you should communicate that. Second i once where on an ux convention in munich and there was the ux head of BMW. He did a presentation about what makes the perfect designer. Bottomline was you are a good designer or developer when you know what phases your design or your product goes through. So your work goes through different stages, idea, concept, prototyp, design, develoment, marketing, review, etc. if you know and understand what happens with your design in all this different stages which are handled from other peoples with other metrics than you are a good designer / developer. It s all about consens and respect for profession.

    0 points