Bucket Hopper

People love putting things into buckets. This fits here or fits there, but it doesn't fit in both. Or does it?

Through my so-called career in tech, I've always had to struggle with two worlds that my colleagues will place me into. When I worked for a small boutique web firm, I was viewed strictly as a "programmer", unable to grasp the nuance of a pixel shifted one pixel too far. When I worked for a large software company, I was a designer, designers can't understand let alone write code.

These two examples occurred fairly long ago, so take them in that context. At least these days, I'd say there's more of an appreciation for people coming from the design-side of tech to know or even learn how to do some sort of programming.

The problem for me back then was I wasn't a student who went through CompSci and graduated, nor did I attend any design schools. Most of everything I know I simply taught myself. In the 90's I was using Photoshop to design websites and manually slicing using either the crop or select tools. This technique predates the "Save for Web" slices which were such a timesaver for me when they finally came out.

Along the way I have met plenty of people though who get it and understand that software is more than just code or just a fancy UI. The sole purpose of software is to solve a problem in the easiest way possible. You take out that awesome interface and replace it with a bunch of dropdowns laid out in a haphazard manner and nobody but the programmer will be able to use it. Likewise with removing all that great code that makes the thing work, you're left with a design layout on Dribbble that looks great on paper but is useless in reality.

I'm not going to count myself as a member of the group that can both code and design fantastically well, but I can do both moderately well and that's all I need, but it sometimes drove me crazy to always be slotted into one or the other group depending on who I was working with.

Here's the thing though, instead of being frustrated that I couldn't live in both worlds, I decided to be a proverbial sponge and soak up as much knowledge as I could from those who were masters in their domain. I learned more design skill from watching and asking questions from my design colleagues and likewise with my programming skills from my developer friends.

It's tough to find your place in this world. Some of us have a nearly impossible time doing that for any number of reasons, but the moment you close up and just sit fuming about what you can't do instead of doing what you should, you give up on any chance of being a greater version of who you are.

- Wes