Designers + Developers = Great Apps That Really Work

Apps, mobile, design

The BBC just announced that Season 4 of Sherlock is being filmed. If you’re a fan, that is big news — it’s been two years since season 3! — but it got us thinking about what a great partnership Sherlock and Watson are… which got us thinking about OTHER great partnerships:

Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Batman and Robin.

Designers and Developers.

I know, that last one might seem like a stretch, but it shouldn’t be.

What makes a great partnership? When two people (or foodstuffs, in the case of pb&j) complement each other and they’re better together than they are on their own. That’s a great partnership.

This SHOULD be the case with Designers and Developers. They should work together to be unstoppable. Unfortunately, this is sometimes not the case because most companies have Designers (your Watsons, if you will) and Developers (the Sherlocks) and unlike our crime-solving buddies, the two frequently do not work together until it’s too late.


Watson (meets with client, no Sherlock to be found): So, I did up these wireframes for you. What do you think?

Client: That is AWESOME. Except, can we move this over here? And can we add some functionality … wait, let me see … yeah, could we put that over here? I’d also like to think about the way this is moving across the page. Can we change that?

Watson: Of course! What do you think about this landing page?

Client: Will it be responsive? I need it to look EXACTLY like that on a cell phone. Can you do that? I mean — EXACTLY like that.

Watson: Absolutely. Let me make those changes you asked for and get this back to you.

Watson goes back to his desk and happily reworks the wireframes. The client loves them! Ready to move forward! All is well!

Until the project goes to Sherlock.

Sherlock: Watson, you idiot. This CAN’T go there. That functionality? Doesn’t make sense. I can’t make this look EXACTLY the same on a cell phone screen — this is a full desktop design, and it won’t be on smaller phones.

Watson: But that’s what the client wants.

Sherlock: Can’t happen. Here’s what I built instead.

Client: This looks … um. This isn’t really what we talked about? I mean, it does the things I need, but … I liked what I originally saw. This isn’t it. I’m not thrilled.


You want your clients to be thrilled. You want them to see the final product and love it. You don’t want Watson, then Sherlock. You want Watson AND Sherlock, together, doing what they do best: collaborating.


Watson: Sherlock, look at this project. I have to take these wireframes to the client, but I think we should talk about them first.

Sherlock: Okay. Hey, this looks cool. Oh, wait, are they going to want this for cell phones? It’s going to be challenging to get this to work properly on some mobile platforms. Tablets will probably be okay, because of the screen size, but where this is designed for full desktop, some of these teeny buttons will be too small to click on a cell phone screen. We need to rethink that a bit.

Watson: Good to know. Let’s work on some responsive versions of the layout to show the client how it will look on different devices. That way we’re prepared.  Can we be flexible with some of this? Will there be any issues with moving things around or adding them?

Sherlock: This functionality here should probably stay right where it is for it to work well. Let’s see … no, that should be okay.

Watson: What are you estimating for time to build this?

Sherlock: Probably … 40 hours.

Watson: Excellent, my good man. Well done.


When Designer and Developers work together, good stuff happens. Clients can be made aware of potential issues, pitfalls, and possibilities (i.e., “You could also do THIS, and have it be  EXTRA awesome”) at the get-go so that they are not just happy, but thrilled with the final product. because what every shop wants is happy customers.

That’s just elementary.

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