I am a lone web developer in the company maintaining a legacy web application. My job is to maintain this site and implement changes as requested by our web designer.

The problem is that the "web" designer isn't very good. Anytime I try to add previously approved details to improve the system, they come and say

"Woah, we should add glitter! And gifs! And this ridiculously big button!"

and the boss just says "yes, do it".

I've spoken to my boss about the user interface, new trends, and good taste. The designer, however, ignores my advice saying "it is not important", and just does as they please. I've also tried to talk with them about the same topic, but then they rebutt with "I'm the designer, I know about this, you just go and keep writing code".

It's really frustrating not being able to implement some of my changes, and worse, having to implement changes that make it harder for our clients.

How can I convince the web designer to try some new ideas or take some of my suggestions on board?

  • 4
    Maybe you could edit your question to make it more generic. Basically your question is about convincing someone who is more senior than you to change the way they work and do it your way, which is sometimes not easy if the person has been working that way for long.
    – Étienne
    Mar 19, 2014 at 22:54
  • 1
    This seems more like a rant than a question.
    – user9158
    Mar 19, 2014 at 23:26
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    Hey user, and welcome to The Workplace. I'm a bit confused by your question, could you clarify please? You are not the designer, you are the coder. The designer reports to your manager, and your manager agrees with him. It sounds to me like this isn't your decision to make, and that your manager has already made clear that you should do what the designer says. What exactly makes you think that you can convince this designer that he has no taste? As-is, it doesn't sound like there is any way we can provide an answer that will actually solve the problem. An edit may help get better answers.
    – jmac
    Mar 20, 2014 at 1:33
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    You're asking the wrong question. Your question should be, "how can I be at peace with myself and enjoy my work while implementing things I disagree with". The answer is: if you bend with the wind and you are flexible, then you gain strength. If you stand stiff in opposition, then you will be uprooted. Mar 20, 2014 at 2:20
  • Flash buttons, animated gifs, and 'sparkles' are huge pet peeves of mine too...but I recognize that some of that is suited for mobile access - something I hate as well, but a necessary evil as mobile internet devices become more common. Hopefulluy this is what your designer is planning for, and is not just trying to make things 'pop' (the peevest of pet peeves I have with web design).
    – Zibbobz
    Mar 21, 2014 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


Recognise your role in the organisation

I think the first thing to cover is the separation of roles here: you are a web developer working with a web designer, to a certain extent your role is to implement the design as requested by the designer and approved by the manager. As such, approaching management and going around the designer will not look good for you, as you are attempting to work outside of your domain.

It may also be that, while you have disagreements, the designers work may actually have a rationale behind it. What would help here is increased communication between you both. If the designer is recommending a giant button, find out why. Is it to improve user click-throughs. However, if they are unable or unwilling to explain it, don't press the issue. As stated, your job is to implement their design.

Ask, don't tell

If they do give reasons behind it, and you think there is a better approach, ask don't tell. Ask if they have considered other approaches, ask if you can help with the design process to expand your own skills, ask if you can see the process they went through to come up with the final design, ask if they can critique some of your own ideas and help improve them.

In the best case, you will get an understanding of why they have taken the approaches they have, in the worst case you might gently give them a reason to provide rationale to themself for their ideas.

Recognise your own potential limitations

Sometimes, when working across domains, we can over estimate our own skills, this is called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. User Interface and Experience is such a broad and difficult field, and is much more nuanced than people recognise. Thiscan be seen by the fact that there is a User Experience Stack Exchange site, that is very separate from StackOverflow itself despite often coving similar technologies. While you may have a lot of experience building websites with these technologies, it is worth examining the possibilty that there are gaps in your knowledge that the designer is exposing that is causing some friction between you both.

  • 2
    You had my +1 with "Recognise your role in the organisation", but the whole answer is good.
    – TecBrat
    Mar 21, 2014 at 12:48
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    And note that the Dunning-Kruger effect never applies to designers. They are never wrong.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 24, 2014 at 12:27

Let me start with You aren't the designer. Nor, apparently, are you the decision maker about the site. The designer has given you the design and the boss has approved it.

You've brought up your concerns and they've been shot down.

At this point you have a decision: do what you're told or leave. It's really that simple.

Let me give you a story:

One place I worked at had a design team responsible for a large number of landing pages. These pages were overly large and based on the google tracking it was obvious people were leaving because the sites were failing to load in a reasonable amount of time... some of them were in the 30 second range.

The marketing director approached me to see if I knew a way to fix this. I came up with the idea of reprocessing some of the images to get the load times down. She approved so I made the change on one of the 300+ landing pages and we tracked a 40% increase in our conversion rate for that page. We called this a success.

The following day the CEO stormed into a dev meeting and demanded to know who made that change so he could fire them. Apparently a few weeks before he had told marketing to not make any changes to the pages at all; which they had failed to disclose to me. Fortunately the CTO didn't use my name and actually stepped in front of the bullet. 5 minutes before I had explained the project and our "success" with it; and she had just approved performing this change on all of the pages.

The CEO explained that he had been trying changes with ad words for several pages, including that one, and believed that my changes skewed the results. They likely did. After he left the room I was told to immediately put everything back to exactly how it was before.

Point is, the CEO was on top of what was going on, only communicated a "do it my way" without details and we completely blew apart his testing. Meanwhile the marketing director decided that she was going to ignore instructions and do it her way.

Don't be that person.

  • 2
    Yeah, that's a fantastic point. Just because you can't see the master plan doesn't mean there isn't a master plan. Mar 20, 2014 at 2:38

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