Devs work for free; designers don’t..?

I’ve been a web dev a long time now, longer than I care to remember. There’s a truism in software engineering – particularly open source.

There are cutting-edge frameworks being coded everyday and released. Some survive and thrive. Most don’t.

What’s common to all of them though. Whether it’s huge community projects like WordPress or smaller projects. The tech is cutting-edge but the design looks really poor.

Eg. The WordPress patterns library IMHO looks like it was designed by software engineers. Right-brain thinkers. The patterns look amateurish I feel…

Eg. Check out the Astro headless WordPress CMS starter page…

There should be a community matching open-source devs with designers who wish to build portfolios.

Is my point valid? Do developers donate their time while designers demand hard-cash? What’s your opinion?

EDIT: IMHO both the Patterns Library link and the Astro starter theme link contain design work created by software engineers ie. lacking in basic design quality.

  1. There’s just a missing link between the two, in various webdev and web design ecosystems.

    Perhaps WordPress needs to have a hub where designers can post their portfolio, so that interested webdev can contact and collaborate with them for more designs.

  2. Every year WP releases the new TwentyTwenty- theme, I can’t help but think that it lacks actual design. True it’s not meant to be fancy, but like you said it feels designed by “Right-brain thinkers”.

    However, I would say, a lot of that is because contributions to opensource projects like WP require a good right-brain person, more often actual software engineers.

    Whereas, if u visit something like figma or codepen, there are so many designers putting things out for free for everyone to use.

    I may be wrong or just unaware, but I think there’s a lack of pipeline to help designers come into the picture and contribute.

  3. If you really and truly think any of the patterns/element in that Astro starter page look good or even better than the WP examples, then your taste in these thing is questionable at best or is messed up at worse. I mean, a blue to purple gradient on a button that has bold, underlined font, really?!

  4. The patterns directory was in fact made by a team of designers and devs working together.

    And the page you’re comparing it to just has a list of, like, four blog posts on it. Patterns and blog posts are not exactly the same things.

  5. WordPress is engineering led because Matt Mullenweg is engineering first.

    If you’ve ever done a tour of duty on the core marketing or design teams, it’s not fun and the community doesn’t take you very seriously.

  6. In addition I feel some of the larger template companies are getting away with overcharging for poor quality work for the simple reason that this gap between the WP community and the design community in general hasn’t been bridged.

    I feel the popularity of page builders like Elementor is a symptom of this division. Non-techie designers feel they need to use bloated page builders to design in WordPress.

    Also, does the WordPress default template library still display completely different UI designs for the free versions of the templates and the paid ones? Users install a theme that looks really poor and doesn’t resemble the screenshot on the library page.

    Very misconcerting for users. So, they type “wordpress design” into Google, and guess who has the SEO budget to place number one on the search engine results page? The eponymous and aforementioned page builder.

  7. This is something that never ceases to bug me. I straddle dev and design, and I always want to fix the UI, typography, and layout of project sites, and properly organize and edit docs because most devs don’t consider the curse of knowledge when writing docs.


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