Designing UIs without a UI designer

At FOSS Backstage Design, in Berlin, Germany


Share on

Design is still fundamental, and yet designers are rarely active in open-source contributions. If UI design falls under your charge, let’s talk about your options. You won’t become a designer overnight, but we’ll see how to make first steps by incorporating these principles through engineering.

I. Skip the designs, but don’t skip designing

  • Build your UI directly in code for a faster workflow.
  • Focus on key user tasks and on the journeys your user will undertake to complete those tasks.
  • Prioritize solving user problems over struggling with the user interface.
  • Stay close to your customers.

Saying “I need a button” prematurely restricts you to using only a button, while stating “The user needs to run the code” leaves room to decide that, besides, another possible solution might include a keyboard shortcut.

II. Don’t reinvent the wheel

  • Utilize pre-existing components since you’re designing in code.
  • Study and draw inspiration from the UI patterns prevalent in popular applications.

Approach this MVP as if you will discard its UI once you engage with a product consultancy or an in-house designer. Because spoiler alert: you will.

III. Cut the scope to find the product core

IV. User possibilities over user experience

V. Consult LLMs for design guidance

Gleb Stroganov

Gleb Stroganov

Gleb Stroganov

Gleb Stroganov


In the same orbit

Explore more events

How can we help you?

Martians at a glance
years in business

We transform growth-stage startups into unicorns, build developer tools, and create open source products.

If you prefer email, write to us at