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6 Tips for Better Collaboration Between Designers and Developers – A Manager’s Guide

  • Aayush Gupta
  • March 4, 2022
6 Tips for Better Collaboration Between Designers and Developers – A Manager’s Guide

The web development workflow is dependent on several teams in the organization. Whether it is designing, developing, or deploying the product, each stage invites collaboration from specific departments so that the work is done smoothly.

When it comes to designers and developers, a project needs a very close-knit working relationship between the two teams. This is because their jobs, while essentially different, must be done in harmony with each other to create an effective and efficient product.

Web designers are responsible for planning, designing, creating, and coding the website and web pages. They work with pictures, sounds, graphics, videos, etc. Basically, designers make the layout and format of the website, which is then developed by web developers.

Thus, web developers create and maintain the website. They take care of technical aspects like scope, performance, debugging, etc. The functionality of a website and its interface is dependent on developers.

Since designers and developers have a somewhat different scope of work, you might wonder why there is such an emphasis on their collaboration.

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Why Do Developers and Designers Need to Collaborate? 

Developing an application requires significant collaborative efforts from multiple teams, including developers and designers. If the teams get along well and consistently, it makes the product better and the work process more pleasant.

In contrast, if there are problems in the collaboration between your developers and designers, it will lead to miscommunication, misplaced files, version errors, increased turnaround times, and so on. Some side-effects of lack of collaboration between developers and designers are:

  • Increase project duration
  • Decreased efficiency
  • Conflicting KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
  • Hits and misses in understanding each other’s work
  • Miscommunication regarding meetings
  • Usage of ineffective collaboration tools

To ensure everyone remains on the same page, a manager must provide resources and workflows that benefit both teams. Favoring one’s workflow over the other can lead to resentment and inefficiency, which will hamper the project massively.

Apart from team-building and psychological aspects, there are several practical reasons why an organization needs better collaboration between designers and developers. These reasons involve genuine problems that can occur at the ground level and reach the management level in no time.

For instance, there can be several different ways of labeling folders, storing file versions, organizing documents, and implementing access control in a live project. Sticking to one specific way of working might not be effective in all situations.

Similarly, several tools are used by the designing and development team to accomplish their tasks. If these are changed or updated, collaboration terms would also need to be changed accordingly.

The best way to ensure consistent collaboration is by evolving it with time and sticking to methods that have given good results in the past. Instead of writing strict guidelines for teams, a more fluid approach is needed to accommodate the changing demands of a team or project.

Only by understanding the benefits of effective teamwork, can managers ensure that their organization remains stable, cordial, and efficient in all tasks.

6 Tips for Better Designers – Developers Collaboration

Although each organization has a different set of needs, principles, and rules regarding inter-team collaboration, there are a few universal factors that lead to a better designer-developer understanding.

We will explore seven of such factors that help a manager to keep the organization running smoothly by ensuring that designers and developers get along while doing their jobs.

1. Communication Is the Key

Creating an open and clear communication channel is the first step towards effective collaboration. Whether it is to make a Slack group or set up regular meetings, a reliable communication channel involving both designers and developers should be set up at the very early stages of the project.

This way, the teams can give inputs into each other’s work constructively. Developers can pitch design ideas and designers can refine the developed designs before finalizing them. Setting up a communication channel also helps break the ice and create a friendly environment that is receptive to feedback. 

However, ensure that all communication occurs respectfully and everyone’s opinion is respected. Any sort of disrespect or tiff may lead to tricky situations.

2. Set Expectations Early

To avoid arguments and miscommunication, you must set the expectations from each team early. There are a few ways to do this.

  • Determine a suitable timeline for deliverables.
  • Analyze whether goals are attainable.
  • Understand the constraints of time and budget.
  • Take both design and development into consideration while fixing deadlines.
  • Keep buffer time for each stage.
  • Set a common goal, which should be to ensure a smooth user experience.
  • Do not set unrealistic expectations from any team.

3. Keep Important Files Accessible

One of the most common causes of conflict between designers and developers is the unavailability of essential files at the right time. If you are using common workspaces to post files, make sure all members have the required access.

Any tools or software platforms involved must also be shared with both teams. Name all files in a way that makes sense to designers and developers both. Post a style guide or layout template at the beginning of the project in a common space. Also, ensure all the folders and files are organized, updated, and version-controlled so that they can be tracked and used easily.

This reduces confusion between teams and improves turnaround time significantly.

4. Don’t Interfere in Domain-Specific Decisions

There are times when feedback is welcome in the development process. However, there are also times when you need to stop interfering in the other team’s way of working. When it comes to taking domain-specific calls, do not interfere unless it is absolutely necessary or you spot an error.

For instance, if you are a developer, you need to interfere in designing aspects if you feel your way is better than the one actually being followed. You are welcome to put in a suggestion, but if the design team chooses to go in a different direction, it is always better not to interfere in the final decision.

Keeping within the boundaries of your own domain helps in keeping respect and cordiality alive in the collaboration space.

5. Create Common KPIs for Both Teams

KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are types of performance measurement metrics that help to evaluate the success of a particular activity or organization. In a web development project, designers and developers essentially have different KPIs.

For instance, some KPIs for designers may include:

  • Time taken to finish the design
  • Time spent on rework and revisions
  • Number of completed projects in a specific time period
  • Internal or external peer reviews 

On the other hand, developers may have KPIs such as:

  • Number of code lines
  • Number of deployments required
  • Cycle time or the time taken to complete a single task
  • Stability and simplicity of the code

In addition to these conventional KPIs, a manager should include a few common user-centric KPIs for both teams. These may include session duration, user engagement metrics, conversion rates, bounce rates, etc. These help to put both the teams on the same page so that they can work towards the same goal.

Common KPIs often do not factor in the collaboration aspect, thus it is wise to have user-centric goals that keep the teams together.

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6. Set Up Regular Check-Ins

Regular meetings can help improve communication, increase team understanding, and resolve conflict. Setting up periodic meetings between designers and developers is a good initiative to sustain good working relations.

As a manager, you should set up weekly or bimonthly meetings to collaborate on ongoing tasks, kick off new systems, and discuss problem areas. The ideal person to host these meetings is the project manager, who is in charge of both the teams and can resolve issues effectively.

Tips for Designers and Developers

While joint efforts are needed to ensure better collaboration, there are specific things that the designing and development team can do to ensure their end of the communication remains transparent and effective.

Tips for Designers

  • Explain basic designing concepts and theories to developers as required. This will help them to understand the vision and connect on a basic level even without knowing the specifics of the job.
  • Make sure your design is capable of being coded. Hand over a working design that does not force developers to spend hours trying to figure out the technicalities.
  • Provide a complete design and guide developers at each stage if they need insights about the product.
  • Reach out for help whenever you are facing challenges at making design decisions.
  • Provide your design elements in usable file formats and in suitable resolution.

designers developers collaboration

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Tips for Developers

  • Learn some basic design aspects, like fonts, editing tools, colors, etc.
  • Confide in designers if you feel a design is not going to work in the development phase.
  • Work closely with designers at each stage to keep the process smooth and insightful.
  • Consult with designers before choosing to change a design aspect. Taking design-related decisions without involving the designing team may lead to bad blood.
  • Work on the UX aspect in collaboration with the design team.

Also read: How to build high-performing teams – Remotely?

Effective Designers-Developers Collaboration Results

The most important reason why developers and designers should work together is to build a product that works well and offers the best solution to users. There are several advantages to maintaining a collaborative relationship between teams. Some of them are:

  • Reduced scope of errors
  • Less rework and revisions
  • Fast turnaround
  • More creative solutions
  • Reduction in production costs
  • Better user experience
  • Expansion of knowledge base
  • Healthier work environment

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Conclusion

Ensuring a healthy and collaborative environment at a workplace is beneficial for any organization. Especially when it comes to a web development team, it is crucial to ensure teamwork at every stage. This is because an application needs massive contributions from both the designing and development teams to make the product ready to be deployed to users. By keeping the above aspects in mind, a project manager can reduce a lot of stress on their behalf and make everyone’s job easier.

Aayush Gupta

Aayush Gupta

Associate Director, Brand Marketing
Aayush brings an inquisitive, rational and dedicated approach to brand marketing.