[Dev Stories] Navigating a hybrid developer-designer role

[Dev Stories] Navigating a hybrid developer-designer role

Matthew Congrove

Matthew Congrove

Head of Design — December 29, 2020

Like a lot of developers, I started coding in my teens for fun (and gas money.) I’m self-taught, and didn’t opt for college. I was a full-stack developer on professional services teams at the beginning of my career, which twisted and turned a few times before I settled into my current hybrid developer-designer role. 

It can be really challenging to balance a hybrid role that straddles multiple disciplines, but the opportunity to work at points of crossover is growing. Although my career has evolved organically, one in eight new job postings are now “hybridized” from the beginning. That means teams and organizations increasingly have to learn how to create productive environments for hybrid employees, like me. 

The toughest thing about this role is the context-switching. Being a developer-designer means I'm trying to solve complex, chained, logical code problems one minute and then figuring out why users are getting stuck during their workflow, or which colors look best on a LinkedIn ad. Some days require switching more often as I bounce around teams, and that can lead to a lot of "blank staring at the wall" moments. The key to being able to navigate this kind of switching in a sustainable way is to lean on my full-stack teams. I can trust that they’re understanding, and give me the space to get locked back in. 

In addition to building strong relationships with my teams, I like to create some healthy, extra pressure to keep me focused when I feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions. The feeling of accomplishment when my work gets handed off or goes live right on schedule after a hard deadline is second to none. Even though I'm more involved in product and engineering nowadays (instead of professional services), I still try to bring that same level of "hair on fire" mentality because it’s when I do my best work. 

These days I spend a lot of time ideating on new product features and functionality. I float around teams helping with front-end dev, UI and UX and enjoy being able to put both sides of my brain to work. 

To learn more about Matthew and what he’s working on, check out his Developer Spotlight on Pinpoint.