David Heinemeier Hansson

DHH on Design Tools

This post is part of the Constrained series.

Start time: 09:14

I like DHH. He’s been an inspiration to me for a lot of things. The interesting thing about him is that I find his views either very good or very bad. There’s no middle-ground with him. For the most part, I appreciate what he says. But then, there are times where he says shit like this: https://world.hey.com/dhh/design-for-the-web-without-figma-4bc3a218

Here’s his tweet about it:

The comment section is filled with developers agreeing with him. Which makes total sense.

I get his intention behind the post. He’s mentioned Figma here, but it doesn’t really matter which design tool. He could’ve mentioned any other design tool and I’d still disagree with him. The point of these design tools is to give the designer the freedom and the utilities to create, iterate, and collaborate on designs. Imagine the pace at which you’d create designs if you were rawdogging it in HTML/CSS. This might be slightly reasonable if you were to just make some simple modifications to the existing designs or introduce new components that basically fully rely on the existing designs.

Building a new design means going through so many iterations, re-doing a lot of things. Doing it in HTML/CSS works when you are the designer and the developer. Even then, it’s not always true. I’ve created designs myself and worked on implementing them. Almost all the time, I work faster designing the app in one of these tools and then implementing it in HTML/CSS.

In a web world that’s increasingly been subdividing its expertise into ever smaller specialities, that might sound like a bit of a unicorn quest: Great designers that can also make their creations real? Good luck finding THAT! And yet we have, repeatedly, at 37signals, and we’re drawing huge dividends in productivity from doing so.

I’m not a fan of 37Signals’ designs.

Leave Figma to the early conceptual stages of web design. Or put it to good use for native mobile development, when you rarely have a choice. But embrace doing the bulk of the design for the web directly in the core elements of its periodic table.

Most apps these days have a mobile and web version. Designing mobile apps in a design tool and web apps in the web just doesn’t scale. You want to design everything in the same tool. Iterating through designs on any platform is faster in a design tool. I don’t think any designer would disagree.

His post feels like an unhappy backend developer venting about being forced to work on the frontend.

Anyway, like I said, I like DHH. He doesn’t shy away from sharing his thoughts, which is great. He’s been wrong a number of times in the past and I’m sure he’s wrong about this one too.

Stop time: 09:55


One response to “DHH on Design Tools”

  1. > rawdogging it in HTML/CSS

    😂 that’s hilarious


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