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The Three Things That Distinguish Designer-Friendly Code

We web designers often think of code as being a tool by which design is created — but there’s actually a design aspect to code itself. Designer-friendly code is significantly easier to optimize, to maintain, and to extend than messy code — which means that you can put more energy into building that code into something awesome.

There are three aspects of code design that make your code “designer-friendly” — insofar as you’ll appreciate having your own code neat, and if someone else happens to need to use your code later, they’ll be grateful to you as well.

System Architecture
Every language you can code in has a basic syntax that you have to follow to make the code work — but every language you can code in also has an architecture that makes it work cleanly. Every language has rules that govern how it’s various substructures interact with each other, and how to make those interactions obvious and simple. If you have a language like JavaScript that has a wide-open system architecture, you’ll get the best code if you write and enforce your own rules within that architecture so that future designers looking at your code can consistently get the same results by looking in the same places.

Repeatability
I’m not talking about the ability to duplicate the effects of the entire piece of code — in this case, I’m talking about slowly building yourself a library of code ‘modules’ that you can and will re-use over and over again. If, for example, half of the projects that you do require some sort of random number generator, write one really good ‘module’ of random number generator code and then reference it whenever you need an RNG. If you do a lot of the same kinds of work, you’ll find that this kind of code not only helps you meet the System Architecture requirement, but shortens your turnaround time considerably as well.

Maintainability
No code lasts forever — but if you can write your code in such a way that it is maintainable, your code’s lifespan will increase significantly. This is actually assisted significantly by using the same sort of ‘module’ concept above: if your code largely consists of a core code that constantly references modules to perform it’s function, then when a new piece of tech comes out or a security hole pops up that requires a code change, you can change it once in the relevant module and then populate it out to all of your projects that utilize that module.

I’ve yet to come across a language whose code cannot possess all three of these attributes — and designing with them in mind benefits that project and all of your future projects as well. Consider designing designer-friendly code, and Friend yourself like Facebook.

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