Designers and developers have different skill sets, talents, and perspectives, but when both sides can contribute in open, respectful, and collaborative ways, it makes for a better process and product.

In an environment where timely project delivery is crucial, collective efforts cannot risk being compromised. Equal contribution of expertise and ownership of tasks is paramount and can be achieved only through expert collaboration.

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Image Source: Medium

There are differences in the designer vs. a developer’s actual tasks, and sometimes, we let these differences and our egos get the best of us. We forget that our goals are often the same – to create a successful product and to feel that our voice and expertise are valued in the process.

So how do we bridge gaps and ensure the best health of a designer-developer relationship in an enterprise environment?

In this blog, we outline four proven ways of strengthening the designer-developer partnership.

Focus on Problem-Solving First

Designers and developers sometimes focus too much on their tasks rather than problem-solving itself. This can be done by bringing down the wall of imagination and imbibing a collaborative culture that values being on the same page regarding product development or optimization.

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Image Source: noblestudios

Rather than a “waterfall” method of separating tasks for different features by job role, designers and developers must approach their work with a clear problem definition and then figure out how to tackle those problems together. This exercise should be done as a tag team with a unified vision/goal of what needs to be established and better transparency. Both sides need to figure out what needs to be done and how to do it by planning together and informing each other about individual progress. Designers and developers must also collaborate to optimize time, resources, skills, and efforts.

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Image Source: Medium

DevOps is a prime example of a collaborative environment (for the development and operations team) that fuels progress and, ultimately, a favorable outcome for the project.

Learn to Empathize

Exhibiting empathy can help one understand a problem better, communicate effectively, and make innovation human-centered. Empathetic insight is a significant junction point for team building. It allows designers and developers to recognize the other’s efforts, problems, and thinking, influencing their own opinion or approach to a problem.

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Image Source: fullstory

Empathy helps designers and developers build their working knowledge of how the other works and evaluate their strengths and challenges while applying inclusiveness to the collaborative process. It stimulates better listening skills while letting teams gain an understanding of each other’s work processes.

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Image Source: iPullRank

Discussions around workflows and productivity can be challenging. It’s crucial to build a foundation of trust and cooperation before diving in or resorting to a blame game when things don’t go as planned.

Designers and developers also need to embrace similarities in the workflow. CI/CD, scrum, agile, etc., by investigating, ideating, and iterating. Empathy helps ship out the best solution/product when the designer understands the developer’s needs and provides the best design that facilitates high-quality development and vice versa. Respect is the best currency which, when invested through empathy, creates a productive designer-developer collaboration.

Communicate Early and Frequently

Syncing development and design cycles early on and regularly allow teams to communicate, collaborate, and influence each other every step of the way. Poor communication can cost the company and individuals dearly. According to a recent survey, an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year is due to inadequate team members’ communication.

Start the project with a kick-off call where any questions or concerns can be raised, and a common goal can be recognized to align all efforts towards it. A project management platform like Jira gets everyone working and communicating on their tasks.

Early communication and keeping each other ‘in the loop’ help rule out uncertainties, stay organized, feedback factor, and save ideas relevant to the overall purpose.

Designers need to think more about their designs’ feasibility based on what development can produce within a given amount of time. With early communication, they can seek out the developer’s perspective in the design decision-making process.

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Image Source: XD workflows

On the other hand, developers need to understand user flows and the ‘why’ of their implementation. They can be more thoughtful and graceful when asking for any changes or iterations in design by communicating earlier. Developers can also give designers more time and space to come up with a functional design.

Many companies face a common problem where the real disagreement between designers and developers occurs in the final design. Working together on projects from start to finish can render more productive results with great functionalities, user interface, and clean code. The need for re-work will be less, and the final product deployment time will be quick.

Knowing Yourself

These two words used by most motivational speakers are very relevant to designer-developer nexus-building. In decision-making, designers and developers must fathom their strengths & weaknesses and communicate what they need to do and how to do it.

As a designer, it is essential to stay in sync with current design trends and tools and make immediate decisions on designing changes or adding extra features.

As a developer, it is crucial to evaluate designs and implement the latest technology to help awesome designs work.

The key that can unlock significant potential is knowing yourself and the various ways you can deliver an effective solution. An effective way of collaborating through personal improvement is through personal SWOT analysis.

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Image Source: Creately

Self-assessment lets designers and developers not only become experts in their respective fields but communication stewards as well. This brings them one step closer to achieving their unified goal.

We want to wind down with some expert tips on communication for designers and developers.

For Designers

  • Give developers opportunities to bring in their expertise and perspective to contribute to product design and vision.
  • Communicate about interactive elements as you design, and design them by understanding how they will work when coded.
  • Take the time to understand what kinds of documents or annotations developers need from you to be successful. Keep asking for feedback or opinions along the way. It’s better to ask about the feasibility of a design early on than to spend time creating something that a developer later tells you won’t work.
  • Know when to compromise creativity for feasibility when discussing designs with developers.
  • Share design elements in usable file formats on a collaboration platform so that all the developers can view them and contribute to a collaborative solution.

For Developers

  • Knowledge of basic design principles such as spacing and size when implementing a design will allow space for more important conversations related to the product.
  • Build trust with the designer by regularly communicating. Help designers understand your thought process and are willing to work through a problem together. Communicate often throughout implementation if things aren’t going as planned. Be engaged early on in the design process and help brainstorm relative to workflows that will work well in coding.

The successful partnership between designers and developers is driven by healthy communication and effective collaboration. At Radiant Digital, our designers and developers have partnered to deliver world-class solutions globally by keeping the foundation of partnership strong.

Are you facing challenges in keeping your Designers and Developers motivated in working together? Let us help you change that. Call us today.