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Building a bridge between development and design

In January this year, Meagan Swenson started as a Digital Marketing & Communications Marketing Community Portals Manager at Philips Design in Amsterdam. With over 15 years of experience Meagan has worked her way up from programmer to a senior business analyst and project manager. In this interview Meagan gives us an inside look on the bridge she builds between development and design in her current role at Philips.

Meagan, you are currently working at Philips Design, how do feel as a developer in a design driven environment?

It is definitely a challenge being a developer in a design driven environment. This role as a Front-End Designer/Marketing Communities Portals Manager has the particular requirements of both emulating the style of the existing portals while coming up with unique concepts for pages and elements. It offers more artistic creativity than a developer role which is very motivating.

What do you bring to your current role from your background in development?

Working for Hewlett Packard for nearly sixteen years coding and managing an internal portal, I kept my development skills sharp. I created many stand-alone web-driven applications. That role was very independent and I was able to propose new tools and new ideas and be able to bring them to life by designing and coding them. Having had both that independence and the role of designing and developing together very much prepared me for my current role.

What would you advice developers interested in moving towards design opportunities?

The advice I would give to other developers wanting to move into design is to build up your portfolio. Take on side projects or projects for friends to create new things and hone your design skills.

The secret to building a bridge between design and development is to understand the technology available and how to visually represent that in a project.

Meagan Swenson

Digital Marketing & Communications Marketing Community Portals Manager at Philips Design via SMS Intermediair

This is your first job in the Netherlands, what are the differences in working culture you have noticed so far?

The Netherlands´ work environment is far more relaxed and communal. It’s easy to take time for an appointment (as a newcomer I have many government appointments still) and from my experience working from home with some frequency is a normal occurrence. There’s less hierarchy here and it is far easier to approach both managers and peers with questions or to get ideas.

And finally, what's the secret in building a bridge between design and development?

The secret to building a bridge between design and development is to understand the technology available and how to visually represent that in a project. A website or application may be aesthetically pleasing, but if the functionality is lacking it can frustrate the user. Conversely, a really well built application that is visually too cluttered or has elements in the wrong place can do the same. So understanding the user experience and finding a visual and functional balance builds that bridge.

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