WHAT’S THE DEAL BETWEEN DESIGNERS AND DEVELOPERS?

We have learned what the ADDIE instructional model is and tackled its two critical elements – the two D’s. Design and Development are certainly the core of creating a great course. This also applies to developing a product that solves problems.

An effective Design and Development work requires smooth communication and strong collaboration between developers and designers. But for some reason, there is a commonly known resistance between these two teams.

Designers are usually after the graphic and interface – user experience design – of a product while developers focus on the code and how to make it work. The gap between each other’s vision and execution takes place when there is a lack of communication, unsaid vision, and disorganized exchange of information.

And while the two have different roles, they also have more things in common than one would think. Both are highly analytical and possess a great deal of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to achieve goals.

Just imagine what a fully functional product team and developer team with seamless communication and agile thinking can do to creatively solve problems! They may have a different focus on creating great products, but they sure will learn a lot from each other.

Here are 6 ways to unlock a productive working relationship between designers and developers.

1. Get everyone on the same page throughout the process

Know when the start of the communication gap happens? It’s when designers first do their thing then turn over the initial design to developers. To avoid the gap in vision between designers and developers, make sure that the latter is involved early on in the process and that Design and Development team members are all on the same page. Involve developers in client meetings, seek input from them on design, and inform them of initial design ideas earlier on so any code-related red flags are identified early.

2. Streamline the handoff process

When designers hand over their initial designs, whether in Photoshop or sketch form, make sure that the process is as organized as possible for everyone. Clearly label design files down to the layers on Photoshop and color-code dynamic elements (click and hover states). Add notes to designs and apply full page screen captures. Organize a meeting between designers and developers to explain the ideas and make necessary clarifications.

3. Encourage open and up-to-date communication

Designers and developers may have different ways of doing things and contrasting communication styles. These varying methods may cause gaps in information exchange, resulting in relevant people being left out of the loop. To resolve this, both teams should engage in open and updated communication.

  • Have a solid set of guidelines for communication, such as regular email updates at the start of the week.
  • Set up a communication channel used by everyone involved, whether through email or collaboration tools like Slack and Asana.
  • Clarify where all files will be stored, whether in the internal server, Dropbox, or Google Drive.
  • Book weekly check-in meetings so that updates and revisions are clearly discussed.
  • Encourage feedback and questions. Proactively provide constructive feedback and openly discuss limitations. Block out a definite time for feedback and make this a regular part of the entire process.

4. Thoroughly review notes and prototypes

Remember, the devil is in the details. Make sure that all notes are completed and detailed, and that prototypes are reviewed carefully. Nothing is too small or trivial – even the most subtle change in color, format, or spacing matters. All input should be taken into consideration; Design and Development are technical and analytical processes so updates and revisions should be thoroughly applied.

5. Conduct informal reviews with both designers and developers

User experience (UX) is at the core of creating a product. Both the designer and developer team working on creating the best UX should give strong emphasis on regular reviews. UX designers should adopt open, collaborative discussions with the front-end development team. This does not only result in minimal errors and communication gaps, but this also helps build solid working relationships and seamless project management. Involve potential users and learn how they will interact with the product.

6. Inform both teams of the workflow

Another way to pave the way for respect and understanding of each other’s work is familiarity in Design and Development workflows. Experienced designers should have a view of the development process – testing, debugging and documentation. Developer teams would also gain from knowing the creative process involved in product design. Knowledge of varying workflows can help manage expectations and understand constraints.

CONCLUSION

Despite belonging to different teams with varying focus and work styles, designers and developers should be able to collaborate and adopt open communication to break down barriers and produce a great product together. Remember, a user-centric product that solves problems starts from strong teamwork between designers and developers, grounded on respect and understanding about each other’s workflow.