What is a Full Stack Designer?

Full Stack Designers are the designers who also have the basic knowledge about coding specifications, which means that they can design taking the coding standards into consideration or may even manage the complete design to development process.

A full stack designer should be jack of all trades and master in one, simply means a designer should be multi-disciplined and can involve in a project from research to production. We have entered the times when designers should go full-stack & become as cross-functional, as the web developers of today have become. By going full stack, we mean deepening one’s knowledge in UX research and delving deeper into coding and prototyping which would equip them to design products with a more practical view-point.

Going full-stack allows the designers to work more efficiently within a team and improves the overall product they are designing.

A “full-stack” designer is the one who can undertake a project right from investigation to its execution & implementation to bring about a balance between the user needs, the business goals and all things technical.

This implies:

  • Working with the PM to identify the goals, constraints, goals, use case scenarios & the project scope.
  • Brainstorming & building on design ideas while taking care of all possible scenarios and edge cases, all the required user flows, interactions, error states and so on, in order to move from lo-fidelity to hi-fidelity.
  • Conducting user-tests and survey to get relevant feedback. Based on the feedback, fine-tuning the product design. This can be performed with researcher of on their own.
  • Establishing a sync with the critical stakeholders (mainly the PM and engineering) in order to freeze the design and its rollout strategy.
  • Documenting the specifications and assets required to build the design. This helps the engineers to perform their job.
  • Acting as support for things that may arise in the engineering phase of the project.
  • QA testing to review the outcome of engineering before it is sent to the production wing.
  • Post-release evaluation of the performance of the features so as to ascertain its impact and the scope for improvement.
  • Documenting the process throughout to be able to explain in the future as to why things are the way they are.

Why Go Full Stack?

With not much competition in the earlier days, there used to be a definitive bifurcation between the web designers and web developers with rare, if any, overlapping between their roles.

However, with rising competition, the designers are required to widen their skill-set. Apart from their expertise in Photoshop and Sketch source files, they require lots more to be able to address to the complex interWhat is a Full Stack Designer?actions constituting the modern-day websites and applications. With the need for responsive design, they also need to work on more screen sizes than ever before, which requires them to have knowledge of code to be able to design in the browser.

The UX research has nowadays become a necessity for each project so as to save many hours of the design time and enabling the focus on design efforts. Testing and prototyping are also equally required these days since the stakeholders are looking for more involvement at every stage of the project to be sure that the outcome meets their business needs.

Tools, Knowledge and skills of a full-stack designer:

Tools:

  • Expertise in Adobe Photoshop.
  • Expertise in Adobe Illustrator.
  • High level of comfort with Adobe Fireworks.

Knowledge:

  • Understands key principles of consumer behaviour.
  • Understands the concepts of information design and visual organization.
  • Understands the principles of graphic design.
  • Well-acquainted with the interface design principles and patterns.
  • Able to clearly differentiate between user experience and user interface.
  • Able to clearly differentiate between mark-up and programming languages.

Skills:

  • Ability to translate product requirements into product features and arrive at the best possible user experience for each feature.
  • Ability to come up with creative and interactive feature prototypes.
  • Ability to workout both wireframes and high fidelity designs. Knows how to use each, based on the stakeholders and situation.
  • Ability to craft intuitive and simple interfaces and explain the logic behind each design decision.
  • Ability to build and explain each user interface flow.
  • Ability to code HTML/CSS for their own designs.

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