How to Improve Collaboration between Web Designers and Developers

Those working in creative fields know that better collaborations lead to better results. The digital realm is no exception to this unspoken rule. When it comes to building a website that embodies precisely what your client wants, getting your developers and designers to work together becomes a necessity.

Such collaborations aren’t always easy though. While designers often complain that developers alter their design to fit the coding obligations, developers think that designers are eccentric and irrational.

Though reasons may vary, this blame game and the resulting miscommunication can lead to lower productivity. The only way to stop this madness from ruining your projects is to improve communication between designers and developers.

Here are six tips that will prove helpful in this regard.

1) Work Together from the Start

In the typical web designing process, designers first start working on the project. They carry out the necessary research and analysis to develop the prototype all by themselves. Developers often come into the picture once the prototype is ready.

As you can see, not keeping the developers in the loop from the beginning results in delay. Developers not only feel disconnected but downright frustrated if designers churn out a prototype without testing its feasibility. It sets on an exchange of opinions or ideas that widen the gap between the two parties. In the end, you waste precious time and resources without any good results.

This is why you need to get the developers, especially front-end developers, on board as early as possible. They can point out potential problems, feasibility issues, and possible innovative solutions before they turn into an ordeal. In fact, you should get them involved in the first meeting with your client. They may be able to come up with a functional design solution keeping the user front and center.

2) Communicate Openly and Frequently

Open communication is the backbone of designer and developer collaboration. Poor communication not only reduces your productivity but also lowers employee morale.

According to the 2018 State of Employee Communication and Engagement report, half of the American workers are completely stressed out by poor communication systems while 33% are so frustrated that they are ready to quit their jobs. A typical US worker is wasting between $3,175 and $6,371 in annual salary, leading to billions in losses for a company.

Encourage your designers and developers to communicate as openly and frequently as possible. However, this doesn’t mean they should be allowed to send dozens of emails or attend several meetings every day. The communication should take place as and when it is necessary.

Exchange of too many emails and frequent meetings will create the illusion of communication. So, you have to ensure nothing important gets lost in translation. One way to ensure this is to speak the same language and use the same terminologies. That way, a “Card” remains a “Card” as everyone has agreed on using the same term. Keep testing and improving your communication systems consistently.

3) Set Design and Development Parameters

While communication is important, it becomes a moot point if your designers and developers are engaged in endless repetitive discussions.

For example, a designer can create several different iterations of a design in an attempt to improve it. The developer has to change the code subsequently. However, this can’t go on forever. This is why you need to set predefined design and development parameters.

The easiest way to solve this problem is to create a style guide, at least for the key elements of a website design. You can set parameters for typography, colors, navigation buttons, forms, images, and panels in advance to speed up building prototypes. A predefined process means everyone knows what, when, and how they have to deliver.

Similarly, you should also set flexible deadlines for approval. Not all designers and developers will have the time to approve a new animation or UI element immediately. So, you have to offer all team members a fair amount of time to analyze the design. For example, you can share the design on a common board, and ask the team members to provide their opinion in two hours.

4) Use the Right Tools

Website designing and proofing tools are the essential components of a well-planned design and development process. The turnaround for building a website is shrinking gradually. People expect you to create a fully functional website in just a matter of weeks, not months. To speed up the process and avoid redundancies, you have to use the right tools.

Make sure the tools you intend to use are readily accessible, and all your team members are familiar with them. For example, Zeplin is a commonly used collaboration tool for designers and developers. You have plenty of tools at your disposal for taking care of elements such as twitter bootstrap, generators, and scaffolding. There are mock-up generators, UI toolkits, and prototyping tools as well.

5) Focus Your Attention on the User

Website designing is a creative process. Both developers and designers may get carried away in their attempt to design the best website. However, keeping your focus on the client can help you avoid this problem and collaborate efficiently.

When both teams stay focused on the end-user, they will be working towards the same goal. Every code or graphics element will be designed to help the users. So, working together will be a lot easier as you can support each other’s work to align it with the client’s requirements.

6) Show Mutual Respect

Designers and developers are people with different skill sets. Every team member will have particular strengths and weaknesses. They will probably view the same problem from different perspectives. While designers will focus on aesthetics, developers will be interested in functionality. But, they are all working towards the same goal.

So, instead of running with mutually exclusive points of view, try to find a middle ground where you can work together. Recognize the differences between your team members as well as their similarities. Both teams need to play to their strengths and show mutual respect for each other’s abilities. Contribute where you can and seek advice where you need it. That’s the mantra of successful collaboration.

Parting Words

Creating an elegant looking and highly functional website in just a matter of weeks isn’t possible without collaboration between designers and developers. If you hold on to these six tips, your developers and designers can work well together. Make sure all the concerned parties are involved in this collaboration to get the most out of it. Good luck!

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