We often see these startup job postings “Looking for excellent JavaScript and Frontend!  Stupendous UI skills! Master of UX! Loves PHP, Node.js and Python Frameworks!” – These employers are looking for Tech Unicorns, beasts so rare that some in fact say it doesn’t even exist. In all seriousness, on paper a person that is versatile and multifaceted is a desirable asset to have. However, these unicorns are both an unrealistic want and show a lack of foresight on the side of the employer.

Initially product needs to be handled by someone that is a user experience and interaction design maestro, the product then needs to be handed off to the front-end developer who works in tandem with the designer to implement interaction and finally a back end developer to build product infrastructure.

While any designer worth their salt, will possess knowledge of UX/UI/CSS/HTML to varying degrees, a front-end person will also possess knowledge of CSS/HTML/JS and some back end languages such as PHP/Ruby, etc. Looking for a one off, a jack-of-all-trades, a unicorn will carry with it fundamental strategic flaws.

What This Means

By fundamentally asking one person to do full integration you’re instantaneously foregoing all benefits of team. What team does, it gives you a second pair of eyes, team allows for a back and forth and an all around better product, team leads to better iteration and ideation, and in the end, an overall better product. Team is essential. A unicorn, while majestic and rare, loses out because he is alone. But with unicorns come other problems as well. Burn out.

A singe person should never be responsible for the wide breadth of responsibilities that go into the whole of a product; this will inevitably lead to overexertion and in turn sub par work and poor deliverables; if not additional discontent. It’s likewise necessary to account for the fact that no one specializes in everything, and when looking to hire unicorns, it’s more likely than not the employer will wind up with dilettantes instead.

What startups should instead focus on is to build rounded and complimentary teams, people whose skill sets integrate to make a whole, and who possess to some degree overlapping skills in order to better see things that a singe person misses.This is how we work at SWARM; we make sure that any project has at least two sets of eyes on it, from market research, ideation, to paired design, code review and implementation. Team is what allows us to deliver superior product.