5 Ways to Improve Collaboration between Developers and Designers to Build Amazing Apps

5 Ways to Improve Collaboration between Developers and Designers to Build Amazing Apps

A study revealed that designer-developer friction is the biggest cause of a less than stellar UX, which in turn is the biggest reasons projects get delayed or don’t get approved. The Study by Kony asked 340 enterprise app developers and designers across the globe, what their biggest hurdles were, and here’s what Dave Shirk, Executive Vice President and CMO, Kony had to say –

Business users, designers and developers don’t see eye to eye when it comes to user experience and interface design, which can cause costly delays and mobile app failures, leaving the business looking for a better answer.”

If you are a designer, you are all too familiar with the anxiety that comes, when you are handing over your design to the developer. Designers often dread that their masterpiece of a design will be altered to fit the needs of development. Will the developer interpret the design rightly and see the functionality you had in mind? Or will the essence be lost in translation?

Developers have their fair share of problems too. Different teams of designers use different sets of tools to create design assets that sometimes, aren’t entirely conducive to development. The hand-offs at various silos more often than not end up causing misinterpretations and inefficiencies in the resultant UX.

All of these issues happen mainly due to the gaps in designer-developer collaboration. So here are a few ways to improve collaboration between designers and developers for a more holistic approach to app development.

1. Put the User Front and Center

Both designers and developers must first remember that they are doing this for the users. Between their own ambitions and a passion for the latest technologies and trends, it is easy to get carried away and try to incorporate as many exciting elements as possible. But as a cardinal rule, it is always the user whose interests must come first. Every micro interaction you design or every line your code must be done to make the user’s life easier. Keeping that singular common goal will help designers and developers to try and work together and complement each other’s contribution to the app.

2. Bring In the Developer Early On

Sure you are only brainstorming the design right now, but it’s always a good idea to get your developer on board early on. As far as collaborations go, the rule of thumb is – earlier the better.

In today’s silo’ed business environment, it so often happens that the development team knows nothing of a project until the hand-off. If the developer now finds that some part of the design is non-implementable, a whole new round of back-and-forth ensues, with the project set back by a few weeks at best.

The only way to prevent this from happening is to make sure that the developer is a part of your early design huddles. Being there helps the developer understand the designer’s perspective and interpretation of the design. It also gives the developer a clearer estimate of the timeline as well as the amount of work that will be required. A combined brainstorming session also helps all those involved have a clear vision of the goal.

3. Use the Right Tools

This could have very easily been the number one item on this list, now that I think about it. Right tools for the job make all the difference.

InVision, for instance, is one of the world’s leading prototyping tools, that helps designers convey their perspective in the most streamlined manner. It has a great feedback process, boards for sharing ideas, project management features and user testing tools. Zeplin is another collaboration tool highly favored among developers and designers, allowing effective communication, real-time feedback, online repositories and automatic annotations. Trello is a great tool to keep track of tasks, while Mural helps remote, telecommuting teams stay on the same page. If you need visual feedback for design reviews or during sitebuild, definitely try out DebugMe.

4. Make an Effort to Understand Each Other’s Process

Yes, you have too much on your plate as it is and learning what the other team does is the last thing you can handle right now. However, familiarizing yourself, even just a little, with the other team’s process can go a long way in fast-tracking collaboration. Designers can make an effort to get acquainted with developer parlance and vice-versa. Just a little familiarity with the daily jargon can go a long way. Like designers use Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch to apply effects while developers use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to implement those effects. Developers can try to understand what goes into creating wireframes or mock-ups, and designers can try to appreciate the process of bringing those mock-ups to life. Understanding each other’s language breeds the camaraderie that leads to a holistic approach to building great apps.

5. Nail the Hand-Off

The key to a successful hand-off is impeccably organized documentation that clearly communicates the designer’s vision, goals and ideas. It is therefore crucial that all the different layers of information are conveyed clearly. It’s not just about handing over the mock-ups, specs, and assets. Designers would do well to also share the Copy, Interactions, and a Checklist. The Checklist is often the most humble, most underrated little element that can actually be a very useful tool. It could be as simple or sophisticated as you like, but a basic document that makes sure all bases are covered can go a long way in keeping systems streamlined.

Wrapping Up

After all, we are in this together. Be it designers or developers, the idea is to create a fantastic app that will delight users and rake in the money. That is why creating a collaborative environment where teams can appreciate each other’s vision, communicate ideas effectively and give/take feedback constructively is great for business. If you can follow each or at least some of the above tips, you are on your way to a much more comfortable and frictionless journey and a great app of course.

Author Bio:

Almeda Brook is a freelance writer for MoveoApps, her skillfulness is writing about technology, business, and digital marketing. Previously, she worked as a Content Marketing Strategist at a software startup. She graduated with honors from with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing.

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