In an ideal world, developers and designers would work together side by side, unanimously brainstorming the best possible solutions, being 100% committed to coming up with an eye-catching design that is also functional and page responsive. However, in real world this collaboration functions within a slightly different framework. Both sides can become really frustrated and triggered by the lack of understanding, so the focus gets drawn to fighting tooth and nail for implementing personal ideas instead of thinking about the shared goal – user experience. It’s a lot like marriage actually: sometimes they feel like they want to bite each other’s heads off – but the truth is, they’re bound together and function best in unity.
Some say that designers who are also developers are unicorn-rare and cannot be found freely wandering through the IT fields. This is explained through the left-brain and right-brain division and associating the predominantly used brain side to career choice and personal talent. Although it is scientifically debatable whether or not this brain division is real, developers and designers typically have different mindsets, which is why misunderstandings frequently occur. Exposing the reasons of poor communication between developers and designers is certainly useful in order to create a strategy for eliminating the negative vibe within this relationship and figuring out how the two sides can work together as a team. Here are the most common problems, along with practical ways to overcome them.
Developers and designers need to learn their differences in order to get a clearer sense of what they have in common. Too often, they don’t have insights on the everyday challenges each side faces. A certain amount of interpersonal skills is needed to get a fuller understanding of other’s position. However, it is a two-way street and the two sides should treat each other as equals – without implying any hierarchy and demanding that one adapts to another. Flexibility, empathy, and tolerance are the three hinges of successful cooperation and they require effort from both sides.
Here are some simple guidelines for designing with having the developer in mind:
There are challenges for developers, too. Here’s how to bridge the void separating you from designers:
Simply by focusing on a human side of this professional relationship between developers and designers instead on the technical one, a person can contribute to a more pleasant and smoother communication, which will ensure a better end product.
Too often we witness the following scenario: the developer is completely excluded from the creative process of coming up with a certain design, then he gets a PSD file for handoff and is expected to bring the design to life.The first hiccups initiate communication and from that point – it can get pretty ugly. The problem lies within the unnatural way of solving issues: it’s dealt with retroactively instead of proactively. This is exactly what causes frustration: a designer might think that the developer is incapable of doing his job properly, and vice versa. However, this can be prevented by making the two different minds work together from the start. A different set of skills, experiences, and personal traits create a much-needed diversity that will bring the joined efforts to best results.
Meetings from day one are crucial for a stress-free project that both parties will enjoy, here’s why:
Although nothing beats face-to-face communication, the age of technology we live in provides you with tools that can help you stay connected with the person you’re collaborating with.
Specifically made platform with the goal of bringing developers and designers together is the BuildItWith.Me communication platform. It is a great, completely free “discovery” tool that helps you with finding a like-minded partner to build the desired app with. BuildItWith.Me is a great place for building meaningful business relationships and inviting new people to contribute to the creative process of perfecting one idea and bringing it to life.
Active listening and clearly defining what is doable and what is out of the question are the fundamentals of effective communication. Let’s observe this on the example of mockups.
Every visual designer loves showing at least 3 concepts to the client and those solutions demonstrate the key parts of the website. However, if it is done without the knowledge of the developer – it may result in unresponsive design. Some designers choose to show several flat mockups to clients via email, but in this way their functionality and effects cannot be experienced. A better way to display concepts is to cooperate with a developer in order to build an online presentation where the basic motion can be seen (e.g. hover effects or transitions). This is achievable with intermediate front-end development skills, but you can go even a step further: include creating live prototypes, so that interactivity is completely brought to life.
This way, the client gets the chance to experience the actual look of the website in a browser. If you’re working with a low budget, you may want to avoid the last option since it requires a great deal of coding and time investment. If you’re a designer, you need to discuss if your design is responsive and you need to do it before presenting the possible visuals. Developers, on the other hand, need to be specific with what can and cannot be done, while considering the deadlines, budget, type of website, etc.
There are two great ways that ensure the clarity of the final design concept:
The egos of developers and designers are another obstacle for effective collaboration. While both sides claim they are not trying to be difficult – the stubbornness is often something that is omnipresent. The truth is somewhere in the middle of this communication war: designers truly aren’t only focused on the form, but they care about the function too. They are focused on the UX, but are also driven to make it aesthetically appealing.
The groundless animosity between the worlds of designers and developers can be overcome with strengthening their social intelligence, all with raising the awareness that they work towards the same goal. This can be done with:
The world of developers and designers undeniably overlap. Both sides are prone to creative problem solving and analytic reasoning while using their skills. Imagine what results we could have if they agreed to work together from day one: they would be an unstoppable creative force, indeed.
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