It's Time for the Next Developer Revolution: Design2Code
March 20, 2023

Yoav Abrahami

Developers experienced the start of the DevOps Revolution approximately 15 years ago, which challenged the software development lifecycle. This revolution sparked innovation, and thanks to DevOps and the shift of responsibilities from operations to developers, higher-quality development became faster and easier.

Now, a new cycle of innovation is being unleashed in the developer world. Responsibilities are again shifting and another revolution is coming: Design2Code. This revolution is between developers and designers, and this time it's designers who will have the ability to take on responsibilities and capabilities that were once limited to developers.

With the help of new and advanced technologies and tools, Design2Code will enable even more seamless collaboration between designers and developers. This will empower designers to be more independent of developers and remove tedious back-and-forths during project creation and execution, ultimately leading to the development of more complex projects at a fraction of the time and cost.

Understanding the Rise of DevOps

To fully comprehend how Design2Code will emerge, there needs to be a full understanding of DevOps, how it came to be, and its impact. Before there was DevOps, software development was a long and tedious process. Developers had to build software, burn that software onto CDs then physically hand those CDs to IT Operations. Operations would then download the software on a computer and run it within the organization.

With all these moving parts, it wasn't uncommon for challenges and issues to arise, and when the software product was down, people affected went to Operations for assistance. Operations would have to map out and identify what was causing the issue, and there were multiple issues they needed to investigate. Some of these issues were connectivity instabilities, bugs, and glitches within the system, or it could have been that the developers made changes within the software to improve the product, but they accidentally destabilized it, and/or Operations wasn't aware of it or didn't have the appropriate tools to manage the changes. Solving these issues required a lot of back and forth between the two teams; it was time-consuming and not very economical.

The pre-DevOps process led operations to the understanding that changes completed by developers were a risk, and like any other risk, it had to be safeguarded and, ultimately, eliminated. Operations started creating processes and checks intended to mitigate risk due to developer change which slowed down delivery yet again.

To try to eliminate some of these mishaps, organizations started involving developers in the software release cycle and demanded developers implement tests and checks to catch mistakes and bugs before they handed the software to Operations. This meant that if there were issues with the software, it became the developers' problem to fix it instead of Operations. This is how DevOps was born. DevOps is a movement that shifted the responsibility for handling the impact of changes from Operations to developers.

The Design2Code Challenge

Similar challenges that led to DevOps are now emerging with designers and developers. This is mainly because of the workflow required to build a designed product; a designer designs a project with a design board and then shares that design with a developer who then rebuilds the design using developer tools.

First, given this workflow, there's ample room for miscommunication and roadblocks with the back-and-forth required between the designer and developer to kick the project off.

Next, the developer shows the designer the built product. The designer has feedback and changes. The developer then goes back to the code to make those changes. Depending on what changes are being requested, there might be resistance from either party. This process can cause a lot of friction. And it's time-consuming, the developer has to create different assets and make it look like the designer intended — and remake assets depending on the feedback and requested changes.

Furthermore, down the road, a designer could change their mind or have an updated vision. When this happens a developer needs to go into the code to implement the requested changes. This can then lead to a crossroads — the designer isn't completely satisfied with the outcome of the project and the developer is spinning their wheels trying to make the project match the designer's vision. Both are frustrated because they want to move on to the next task on their project to-do-list. This is the crux of the problem that Design2Code solves.

Applying the DevOps Methodology to Design2Code

The impact of DevOps created a methodology for teams to work smarter and faster, and deliver higher-quality solutions with reduced complexity and errors. This same concept can be applied to the relationship between developers and designers to create a wave of new possibilities.

Design2Code shifts responsibilities and makes the designers responsible for the design implementation, something once limited to the developer's scope. They will have tools that enable them to make changes to designs — such as layout, color, fonts, etc. — without having to go back to the developer and without learning to code.

Emerging tools and technologies are creating visual environments that can implement designs represented as code. This is going to be a game-changer. A designer can now ask the developer to build a project and the developer will code it with checks in place. Once the project is built, if the designer wants to change something, they can use a visual environment to update their design and use the developer's checks to ensure it remains stable post-change implementation.

This streamlines the whole process, and those exhaustive back-and-forths are now unnecessary. Designers will have the tools they need to succeed without completely relying on the developer for support. They can make design changes themselves, eliminating friction and increasing efficiency. They will be able to use the tests and checks the developer created to quickly and seamlessly update their projects and push them into production. This gives the designer more autonomy and frees up the developer to move on to their next project, and this will ultimately create a more efficient pipeline of projects for both teams.

It's Time for Design2Code

Design2Code is being created from different angles converging together like a perfect storm. The rise of friction between designers and developers today that isn't efficient nor cost-effective, coupled with the proven methodology of DevOps to implement new technologies along with cross-functional collaboration to deliver higher-quality solutions faster, sets Design2Code to be revolutionary.

Yoav Abrahami is the Chief Architect and Head of Velo at Wix
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