20 things that drive web developers crazy

When the relationship between visual designer and developer goes wrong

Rafael Mumme

I'm going to be honest. The life of a web developer is pretty sweet. We get paid to sit around an open plan office all day solving problems that, if we weren't getting paid, we'd probably do anyway.

We also work with people who, because they don't quite understand what we do or how we do it, regard us with a certain bootlicking awe.

This does no end of good for our enlarged sense of self-importance. Unfortunately, some of those people are also the same people who tell us what to do. (Will the visual designers please stand up?).

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And because they don't quite understand what we do, sometimes we have to do things that, quite frankly, make us feel dirty. Not to mention having to navigate PSD files so fiendishly organised that you would think they were created that way on purpose. (But that's okay, because we like solving puzzles too.)

So, visual designers, here's a list of 20 things that drive developers crazy. If you're not doing at least 15, then you're not trying hard enough.

1. Add rounded corners to every single element on the page. While you're at it, add shadows and gradients too.

2. Use the same PSD as a starting point for every project. Hide unused layers, but don't delete them. Make sure your PSD is at least 100MB.

3. Use sIFR on every piece of text. Bonus points if you choose a font that's very similar to Arial.

4. Never use the same dimensions on elements. Give each a different font size and colour (for black, use #000000, #111111, #121212 ...).

5. Use a lot of breakout images with transparency. Web developers love graphics breaking out of boxes and columns. Bonus points if you add text wrapping around images.

6. Add a modal window. At least half the site should happen in a modal window.

7. Add a Facebook Connect button. It's just a button. How hard can it be to implement?

8. Hide important PSD layers. Later, tell the developer that they missed a hidden element.

9. Create buttons with rollover, active and clicked states. Then don't tell anyone you've done this. Create a separate file for them and send it on at the last minute. We love surprises.

10. Tell the developer about some fancy functionality you read about somewhere on a blog. Then tell them to build it, because, if you saw it somewhere, clearly it's possible.

11. Add a carousel. Oh yeah, and make sure it's a full-screen carousel.

12. Use Lorem Ipsum instead of real copy. And make sure the reserved space is not big enough for real copy.

13. Randomly merge PSD layers. Why not? (But don't merge too many. It'll take you further away from the magic 100MB target).

14. Name all your files 'final', plus a date and a random letter (final-2010-12-01a.psd, final- 2010-12-01r.psd, final-2010-12-02b.psd).

15. Don't worry about making changes once everything is signed off. When we're done with a page, send another, completely different version of it. And tell us that those changes are necessary and essential for user experience.

16. Don't name or organise your PSD layers and folders.

17. If you're designing a form, forget about error and success states. We'll squeeze that stuff in somewhere. We love guessing your intentions.

18. When you're designing a website, don't invite any developers for brainstorming or design meetings. Make sure we're the last ones to see the layout. Show it to the client first, so it will be too late to introduce even a modicum of sanity into your work.

19. We should hang out more, so during QA don't use bug tracking software. Come sit with us for an entire day and point out changes you want made over our shoulders. Use the opportunity for some impromptu design updates as well.

20. And finally, this is the most important thing: don't learn anything about HTML, CSS, JavaScript or browser issues. The less you know about it, the more important we seem.