A developer with design eyes

17 September, 2019

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When he first met Dragonfly, Simon Winter was a developer with design agency Salted Herring. Now he’s joined the team as a front-end developer.

Salted Herring started working with Dragonfly a few years ago to help present their work in a way that was functional, worked well for any audience and looked good. At the time it was a subtle shift, which recognised the value that design could add to their work”, says Simon.

These projects included the Regional Economic Activity Report and Kōkako. Kōkako won a Best Design Award in 2016.

“As a product, Kōkako did really well. The project felt very easy – we had a well-defined brief and were all on the same page from early on. To find that is a beautiful, rare thing.”

Simon says the Dragonfly approach is quite different to regular design or development work for clients wanting a new website or app. In these cases, sandbox solutions could usually be modified to create what was needed.

“The projects at Dragonfly have a lot more complexity to solve before you can get to a final product. The available technology usually doesn’t meet the need, so you have to throw it away and build something else from scratch. That’s challenging but it does enable us to get exactly what we’re after.”

Simon says he was surprised to find that working in science was very similar to design.

“I used to think that science would tell you all the answers! Actually both processes are about stripping everything back to find the exact problem you are trying to solve. Doing that is really hard – it can take a long time to get to that nub.”

Describing himself as having a split personality, Simon started out as a designer then studied computer science and moved into development.

“I think of myself as a ‘developer with eyes’. I see design differently to many developers and have different expectations of it. It’s definitely useful to have these two personalities. I can start developing, then the other part of me kicks in and I get a sense of what’s not right from a design perspective.

Simon says working directly for Dragonfly has been an easy transition from being contracted by them for project work.

“It seems like a natural fit. We already know how it all works and haven’t had to spend time figuring out how to mesh it together. And personally, the change has been a lovely opportunity for me to work a few less hours and share the care of our young daughter at home.”

Read more about Kōkako.