Communication

6 tasty ways for designers and developers to collaborate better

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As a designer, if you’ve ever had to hand off your visual wonder to a developer, then you know the dread that sometimes follows.

  • Is what you envisioned even possible to get to work from a development perspective?
  • Does the developer know the functionality you had in mind?
  • Does your developer even develop?

The list can go on and on. But there are always 2 sides to a story. What about the developer who’s waiting on the design?

To answer that question and others, we’ve interviewed our own team at KlientBoost to come up with these 6 tips for better designer-developer collaboration.


It all begins with focusing on the user

Designers and developers should always work with the end user in mind.

If the experience isn’t better for the user, then there’s no point in designing or building anything out—your new efforts won’t be aligned with business goals.

So whether you’re designing a new site or developing new features into a product, from the start design and development teams should have the common goal to improve the user experience.

“Designers and developers need to work together from the start.”

But how do you figure out what’s best for the user? Testing.

According to Tin Kadoic at Five, user experience and product testing start as early as the first week of the project. And the testing for improved user experience doesn’t stop anytime during the lifetime of the project, either.

Related: Streamline your design to development workflow with Inspect by InVision

The Nielsen Norman Group gives us a checklist both designers and developers should follow when it comes to usability testing.

Once the pre-testing phase is complete, design and development teams are more closely aligned and know what to focus on.

The earlier, the better

Often, development teams won’t know anything about a project until the design files hit their desk. If those design files are impossible to implement, that means the designer wasted time and now has to go back to the drawing board.

To prevent that from happening, designers and developers need to work together from the start. Early involvement ensures that all parties stay on the same page with the same focus at all times.

If this doesn’t happen, then delays and/or redesigns are likely to arise, which leads to frustration and upset stakeholders.

“Bring developers into design huddles early on.”

A study by the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Oulu in Finland found that early collaboration with all parties on a project lead to:

  • Lowered chance of developing poor designs
  • Much higher satisfaction regarding the product’s function and usage for the end user
  • Room for creative solutions and the intensive exchange of ideas before it’s too late

Designers and developers are no different in this regard.

Stronger systems, better processes

When all teams have the tools and knowledge to get something done, things usually get done.

But one of the common oversights you’ll find between designers and developers are sometimes simple things like:

  • Naming conventions
  • Sizes
  • Margins
  • Paddings
  • Grids

Having a standardized order of operations and a way of going about them help speed things up, since time won’t be spent on questions that could easily be answered.

This helps for a clear focus by both designers and developers that won’t get bogged down by logistical issues.

When it comes to systems and processes, this is also where you want to have a thorough checklist that each team goes through before moving the project on to the next phase.

Which leads us to…

Before the handoff

If you’ve followed all our tips until this point, then you definitely realize how valuable it is to deliver a project with all your boxes checked off, ready for the next phase.

As designers near the completion of their work, it’s important to reflect back on the original goals of the project to make sure it passes their inspection.

Questions like the ones below help you find any updates that need to happen before passing the project along to the development team:

  • Is design quality high and are you proud of it?
  • Does the design improve the user experience?
  • Has the design been tested on real customers?

By answering yes to all of the above, you lower the chances of any need for re-work or re-designs.

It’ll be tough to go back and forth once your designs are in a developer’s hands.

How’s it going? x 10

You know you can read tone and body language when you’re facing someone, but all that goes away when you read a text or an email? It’s the same thing that happens with designers and developers.

“Frequent check-ins prevent miscommunication.”

Once a project has been moved from one set of hands to another, there’s a good chance that interpretation between team members will be different.

Did you mean for your design to do X or Y?

By having frequent check-ins between designers and developers, you’re able to keep the project moving along by removing communication and interpretation bottlenecks.

Pragmatic communication

The more projects you have designers and developers work on together, the higher the chances of potential frustration.

With our teams at KlientBoost, we’ve found it’s easy to forget that we’re all on the same team with one common goal. By having the self awareness and empathy when you communicate with other team members, you’re able to quickly find a logical solution to any problem that may occur.

And by following the previous 5 tips, you can lay a solid communication foundation that prevents problems from arising in the first place.

Now it’s your turn

Teams that communicate openly and frequently build better products. Try out these 6 tips at your organization, and we think you’ll find that projects are smoother and quicker—and people have more fun, too.

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Author

Johnathan Dane
Johnathan Dane is an international speaker and the founder of KlientBoost, a no-nonsense, creative, kick-ass AdWords and landing page agency that hustles for results and ROI. If you think this article’s good, you should see what he’s writing on their PPC and CRO blog.

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