[There is a] really pervasive idea: try to learn both design and code, and you won’t become great at either.But this isn’t true. It’s possible to build tools so that designers don’t have to be great engineers to build great software. The question isn’t “should designers code?” but “how can code work in a way that empowers designers?
David Cole of Quora talks about how they’ve attempted to sidestep the ongoing code-design battle by creating a system (namely, two frameworks LiveNode and WebNode) that, in layman’s terms, separate all the template elements and allows designers to work on small elements that can be fed back into the larger system.
Speaking of the old designer developer thing, I really liked the set of two article by Matt Gemmell on how developers can help designers (speak the same language, and trust their skills!) and conversely, how designers can help developers (use the right UI language, and whatever you do, tidy up your PSDs!).
For those interested in data modelling, there’s a good article by Derek Harris about how to make your data “talk”, from marketers to those who push spreadsheets.
At the more hard-core end of the spectrum Karen Lopez (aka @datachick) gives advice to data-modellers about staying relevant. All of them realised how much I *wasn’t* a data modeller, apart from the “work on it 15 minutes a day” which is pretty much relevant across all disciplines.
On a more pragmatic level, Joel Spolsky’s 12 steps to better code is a nice heuristic as to whether a code team is doing work in a professional manner. There are some very interesting points, for example Microsoft’s “Zero Bugs Methodology” (based on their analysis of the disastrously show Microsoft Word 1.0 launch, and the realisation that it’s far faster and more important to fix bugs as they happen than add new features).
Interestingly, these points are pretty different from the Zappos “Collision, Community, and Co-Learning” strategy for their offices. I suspect that they don’t have so many coders there, for as Spolsky notes above, they’d go mad without personal quiet space for their work.