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I have been curious about that how much effort developers have to make to adjust components to accommodate changes in UI design. Sometimes I think a design from UX is good and there's no problem for the developer to implement this new design, but the developers say this design is different from current component. Why can't they just change the component based on the design? Is it difficult for them?

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  • I am not sure if you are a native English speaker so I am happy to give you the benefit of the doubt but the main body of your question is not worded very well. PM.SE is for professional development and we encourage all users to write their questions with a bit of care for formatting and legibility since we want all questions to be searchable and usable by others in the future. Could you tidy up your main body a little to be really clear about what you are asking? Nov 24 '21 at 17:02
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    As a rule of thumb, if you're curious about some people's motivation, it's much better to ask those people instead of strangers on the internet who know neither you nor those devs nor the project situation. That said, if you provide a clearer picture of the whole context some strangers on the internet might come up with helpful ideas anyway, so please follow @Venture2099's suggestion and work on your question for a bit. Nov 24 '21 at 18:55
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    @Venture2099 Please feel free to improve the question's grammar and syntax. I agree that there are some things the OP has to improve themselves to clarify the intent of the question (especially the person's role), but as a community we should feel empowered to directly improve question quality when possible to avoid "broken windows."
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Nov 25 '21 at 0:32
  • I'm not entirely sure that this is a question about project management. I wonder if it might not be better suited for software development or UX design forum. From a PM perspective, my answer would be "the SME is authoritative on the effort to make a change; the PM should consult with the SME." I'd be very cautious about challenging the expertise of a SME without solid evidence.
    – MCW
    Nov 29 '21 at 12:40
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Proviso

This is a site for project management, not engineering, so I'm going to provide you a project management answer. If you want an engineering answer, you might have to find a different site to ask the question.

TL;DR

"Design" is often a term applied to some artistic rendering or wire-frame during product design, so it's more of a visual aid than a set of actionable specifications. There are exceptions (as there always are), but this is true often enough that you can generally assume that the user interface (UI) design (as opposed to the UI implementation) is easier to change than part of the product implementation itself.

There's no canonical answer here. The only generalizable solutions are better communication and collaboration between the roles of design and implementation.

Analysis and Recommendations

Depending on your product (let's pretend it's a web site for simplicity of the example), UI changes can be as simple as:

Can you please move this checkbox three pixels to the left?

and as hard as:

We want this field to be populated by the known set of users who live in Spokane with odd-numbered ZIP codes whose last name also ends in the letter A.

On its face, the first change is much easier to accomplish than making major changes to the back-end logic and database to implement the second change request. However, the only people who know for sure how difficult a change is are the people who need to make it, e.g. the designers, front-end developers, and back-end developers.

If you're lucky, all three things are handled by the same full-stack people, but at worst you should have all three skills sets represented within your team so that they can collaborate on the best way to implement any needed changes. Without that collaboration, and without communication and estimates from the people who will actually do the work, it's impossible to accurately assess the level of complexity for any part of the proposed work.

The project leadership's input should be a what, e.g. what changes need to be made in order to meet some measurable business objective. The team's input should be a how, e.g. how the team can most effectively meet the new product objective given the current state of the product, the skills and tools available to the team, and the level of effort involved in the ask.

The only way to accurately get that information is to ask the people involved. Ask the designers why they need this change. Ask the change-implementers what the change involves for them, and if there are options or circumstances that might affect the level-of-effort needed to implement the change.

If you're looking for a universal, canonical answer: there isn't one. However, as a purely pragmatic rule of thumb design is easier than implementation, especially if the implementation is treated as a downstream or "over the wall" task that doesn't take the complexity of implementation into consideration. The only generalizable solutions are better communication and collaboration between the roles of design and implementation. If it's not your role to facilitate that, then please escalate it to the role that does own the collaboration and communication within the product development organization.

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Sometimes I think a design from UX is good and there's no problem to develop this design.

So... two people with no development skills think something must be easy to develop...

why they don't change component based on design? Is it difficult for them?

... and the actual developers tell you it's not.


Yes, developing components based on requirements is their job. And I will assume they can do it. It's not difficult per se. However, since it is very common for neither the UX guy nor the project manager to actually know anything about development, it mainly goes like this:

Hey, Mr. Car Mechanic, Sir, I was at the lake yesterday and it looked amazing. All those fine vehicles with all the little flags they had flying. I want them for our vehicles, too. Our marketing department is hyped. This is the best idea ever. We will sell millions. So when can we have a main mast on our car roof to fly our flags? ... What do you mean "it's difficult"? ... Don't you know how to work on cars?

There are things that are "standard". Changing tires. Changing gearboxes. Redoing the paint job. Those are normal. They take a little time, but it's nothing out of the ordinary.

In programming, that would be "picking a date from the operating systems calendar control" or "listing all images and have them wrap around on small screens by the predefined algorithm of the platform".

Now, what I do see in practice is that for example the UX person is not happy with the calendar control that exists and wants changes. But you cannot just "change" it, you can only redo it from scratch. Basically writing a new one. The same way that having a main mast coming out of the car roof will probably require a full remodel/rebuild.

Is it difficult? No. Someone wrote the original, they weren't a super hero genius either. It's just work. But it's a lot of work to do. We have an app where we have a built calendar control from scratch because the product owner did not like the look and feel of the native control. I think we spent easily a six-figure sum on this until it was done (planing, developing, redesigning, planning, developing, bugfixing the myriads of edge cases dates and timezones have, thinking about all the gestures and typing you could do to enter dates in different formats, testing, QA...). This money could have easily been used to develop a productive feature, instead of "another design" for an existing feature.

So I applaud every UX designer that comes up with new and innovative ways to do things. But the project manager has to keep tabs on the price of this design. As in manufacturing, making more of "the same old" comes cheap, making something new is extremely costly in comparison.

So for example, if you build a little app (lets say a few months with a few people, standard components used, ~100.000$) you have to decide whether it's worth to add another pricetag and double, triple or quadruple the price just because you don't "like" for example Material Design. Or the Apple look and feel. Or whatever device you are on. If you have that amount of cash to just throw out on looks, by all means, go for it. But the developers would probably be a little insulted if you told the world they needed a year and a half for that app. Because the app was functionally done after a few months.

So just get two price tags... let your developers tell you what they need to make your product. And then let them tell you what they need to make it to UX specifications. The difference is caused by the UX designer deviating from what is normal for that platform. You can like it and pay for it. But you need to be clear on the fact that you paid this extra price for design, not development.

Everybody is entitled to have a main mast through the roof of their cars if they can pay for it, but don't blame the mechanic for the price it costs or the manhours they spent.

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  • While I agree with parts of your answer, I have to say that I'm not buying into the "it's not difficult" part of your response. Maybe it's not, and it's just expensive or time consuming; then again, maybe it is. If you want a 200' metal mast to sit atop a car roof carrying hundreds of pounds of cloth for a flag, you will have to structurally redesign and reinforce the roof and probably the rest of the car frame, to say nothing of addressing aerodynamics and safety concerns like roll-over or hydroplaning risks.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Nov 25 '21 at 17:03
  • While I get that you were just providing an arbitrary example, I think the example makes the exact opposite point you intended. Complexity, difficulty, time, and money are all interrelated project sliders, and I don't think it's reasonable to assume that UI or UX changes are either trivial or expensive. They can ultimately impact other aspects of design, implementation, or even suitability for a given purpose. Cars run on gasoline (or electricity), not wind power, and I'm pretty confident that arbitrary changes to a car's structural design are not simply expensive or "out of the ordinary."
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Nov 25 '21 at 17:09
  • Well, I might be biased because I have been doing this for a while, so only the actually "difficult" things are difficult for me, while my junior me (and I guess any junior) would find things difficult that I now find boring, but time consuming. What I meant to say was that even if UI/UX wants an exploding 3d button with dark blue flames floating to the right of the actual window, it's something I can do. Or rather can trivially look up how to do, there's tutorials all over the internet, it just takes a lot of time compared to just putting a normal OS default action button inside the window.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 27 '21 at 8:25
  • It's dead easy to test, too. If the app is not too large, it might take up more developer time than the actual app though.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 27 '21 at 8:27
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    On the other hand, I recently had a request to display a picture of 3:1 aspect ration in a fixed 2:1 aspect ratio frame, without cropping or stretching or adding whitespace on the sides... I mean I'm okay with math, but I'm not that good at magic. I would not consider that "difficult", it's downright impossible.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 27 '21 at 8:29

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