Three’s Company

When should a developer be introduced in a project? Common sense would dictate that we should integrate business, design, and technology perspectives into projects from day one. Yet, most product development cycles begin with design and end with development.

Software Development Lifecycle

There is an interesting video by Google Chrome Developers on the same topic. The basic idea in the video is that we should not treat software product development like a conveyor belt. Rather, it should be a more collaborative process where the developer is included during the ideation process. The developer would be able to contribute from the technology standpoint and thereby feel more invested in the project.

The collaboration becomes much easier when designers and developers are in the same office. However, as companies look to hire specialists of each domain to work on their projects, you will generally find designers and developers working remotely in different offices in different cities or even different time-zones. In such case, here are the different ways for remote designers and developers to close in on better collaboration.

Team communication is the key to working remotely. Hence, it’s important to communicate early and often. This can be done by conducting a weekly stand-up. Ensure that such meetings have fixed agendas and purpose so that no time gets wasted. Teams should only invite active stakeholders to meetings. Be open to feedback and changes. Design a feedback structure at regular intervals. This will allow teams to work better and improve.

Use the technology at hand and create a good communication process:

  • Daily conversation: Slack
  • Project management: Trello, Jira and Microsoft Project
  • Weekly meetings: Skype, Zoom, Webex and Google Hangouts
  • Design Collaboration: InVision and Sketch
  • Documentation: Dropbox and Google Docs
  • Calendar: Google calendar

Use these tools if and when required and not just because they are available. Use the ones that work for you and solve your purpose. A live project is not a good place to experiment with new collaboration tools.

Design handoff is an important aspect in any designer-developer collaboration. The preparation for the design handoff should begin way before the actual handoff; it should happen at the very beginning of the entire design process. It’s another way to get developers involved in the design process early. A handoff checklist comes in handy at this point.

Another thing that helps, in the short term as well as long term, is having a design system in place. Teams have one single place where they can go to for all their design elements and style guides, simplifying handoffs. In the long term, this help with maintainability, organization, and scalability. They help shape the vision of your product and create a distinct visual identity.



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