I've been thinking how our company has been evolving design-wise. Zemanta has not been the most design-oriented company in the world—we've only had a full time dedicated visual designer for about half a year now. Things have gotten better, but I'm still not happy about how our vision is communicated outward. So I was thinking about finding out what the outside perception of our company as an organization is?
I know! Let's look at what kind of emails we get to our jobs list when we're not publicly hiring. Right, it's 98% engineers and one designer that writes every three months. I'd say this is actually a pretty good measure. By looking at a website and judging it, a designer can pretty much figure out the company culture regarding design. And our shows that we care enough to hire designers, but not give them time to execute their skills to the maximum. You're not sure what I mean. Here is my pain: you can hire a thousand designers, but if you don't account engineering time for making the designer's idea a reality, you're probably wasting money. Either the designers have to code their own stuff, or you have to dedicate time for making those things perfect. It's the little 3px imbalances that completely fuck up the experience.
I love how Branden Kowitz summed the experience up in his great blog post "Why you should move that button 3px to the left"
I really screwed up the first time I tried to keep quality high as we were building features. It always started fine: an engineer and I would agree to a design, I’d send him a few mockups, and the next day he’d show me the progress. What I saw: a sloppy version of my design. Ugh.
So yes, I understand we are on a very tight schedule of shipping software as fast as we can, but I believe it has to be as polished on the outside equally or more than it is on the inside. Every time we account time for inside fixes, we should dedicate time for fixing visual issues too. As Branden proposes, this is the least I want to change in the coming sprints: I want one developer, one day per week. Believe me. I will have a list of things to move for 3px.