I only know maybe four art facts, much to the chagrin of my art major wife. One of those is about how Michelangelo would see a block of stone and see his purpose, as a sculptor, to free the statue within.

For some reason, that fact came to mind today when I reached out to the designer on my team. I had completed development work on a new page template, and had reached the point where the content was rendered on the page from the CMS, but about all the markup it had was some header and paragraph tags. The extent of the styling was just inheriting the base styles for that markup. In other words, it was quite ugly. I asked him

When I do a prototype page, do you prefer I do more with it than basically just render the data? I.e. should I spend more time on front end design before handing it off? Or would you rather receive it raw and then design it? Much like Michelangelo and his block of stone.

His reply?

Stone is perfect for me

There was already a completed design mockup of the page. I could have delved into the front end code and carved out a finished product that resembled the design comp.

Do I have the front end skills to do that? Sure. Do I have the design sense to make adjustments as I see the page come together, to add and tweak animation, to make adjustments as I see the behavior on mobile?

An ugly statue

Not really.

So how does this all circle back to our friend Michelangelo? The data from WordPress that I had rendered to the screen, I saw that as a block of stone: It had all the potential to be this beautiful design, but in its current state it was just a block of resources. I had mined this stone from the mountain and prepared it to be sculpted. But was I really the best person to do the sculpting?

As websites get more complex, as they put more of a focus on user experience, performance and speed, responsive capabilities, accessibility, etc, they're much harder to develop from a static image into a full site.

Unfortunately, it's often a lot to ask a skilled designer to also have the skills to implement that design into front-end markup as well.

At least, that was the case until I started at Upstatement. Not only did I find the designers here to be incredibly talented, well, designers -- but highly skilled coders as well.

Honestly, it blew my mind. I was so used to being handed off beautiful but completely static designers, which were often created in a "clean room" sort of environment where the content was always a best case scenario. To further complicate matters, this was a true hand-off in a waterfall style project management scenario, where the designer would have reached their budgeted hours and moved on to the next project. When the inevitable bevy of questions regarding animations, content challenges, and more would come up, it'd require back and forth with a designer whose mind (and time) was on to other projects.

The designer had this beautiful statue in mind, which they had showed me sketches of. I had this great reference for what they wanted, but was only so skilled myself in the art of design, and the resulting work, the sculpting of that statue from the stone, would be a best effort in recreating that.

At Upstatement, I'm able to simply hand off that stone and let the designer themselves extract the statue.

Meanwhile, I'm able to make the most solid, sleek, high quality stone I can. I've already seen the benefits of allowing myself to have so much more of a focus on the back end development.