Better collaboration with a developer involves understanding and communicating their different skill sets. You can’t expect them to know everything about your product and code — that’s why you are the designer. Similarly, a developer shouldn’t be expected to have an in-depth knowledge of every design pattern or explain every code snippet that their team uses for building the website. This may seem like obvious advice, but it is surprising how many companies fail at this simple task.
To improve your collaboration with a developer, follow these 5 tips:
1. Form a clear understanding of the goal
Before you start working on a project, you need to have a clear understanding of the goal of the project and what you are trying to build. If you don’t have a clear understanding of the goal of a project, you are unlikely to be able to communicate with your developers. So make sure you have a clear understanding of the goal of the project — not just the features you want to add to the product but also why the features are important. As a designer, you should also form a clear understanding of the goal of the project as a whole. What is the business goal of the project? What is the ultimate goal of the product? If you are building a new website, what is the purpose of the website?
2. Do some research ahead of time
Before you start working with a developer, you should do some research on the person. You can start by reading their code and/or reviewing their portfolio website to get an idea of their design skills. You can also ask your team members about the person’s previous projects, or look at their reviews on sites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor. All these things will help you understand the person from the other side better and form a more accurate impression of them. Similarly, a developer should also do some research before working with a designer. They can look at your company’s product, go through the documentation and code, and even watch some of your demo videos to have a better understanding of the product.
3. Communicate frequently
As a designer, you and the developer should communicate frequently. The best times to communicate are either when the designer is stuck on a problem or when they have a question about the product or the development process. Similarly, the developer should also communicate frequently with the designer. You can do it via email, video calls, or an online collaboration tool like Slack. Make sure you are keeping the communication clear and concise. It is also important to remember that communication is a two-way process and there will be times when the person you are communicating with simply doesn’t know how to help you. So be patient and try to communicate what you want to communicate in a simpler way. You can also use annotations or sticky notes to help you communicate with the developer more clearly.
4. Set expectations upfront
As a designer, you should set the expectations of the developer upfront. This will help you create a clear understanding of the goals between the two of you, and it will also help the developer understand what to expect from you. A good way to do this is by creating a design specification document. You can create a specification document by breaking down the product into various sections, and then create a design specification document for each section.
5. Ask for feedback and iterations
As a designer, you should also initiate feedback and iteration with the code as well as the design. You can do this by creating design tickets in Basecamp or using any other ticketing tool. Design tickets are basically just commented on design files, code files, or even snippets of code. As a developer, you should also ask for feedback and iterative features when working on a project. Feedback can be anything from feedback about the design ideas to the development process itself. So if you are designing a layout, you can ask for feedback about the flow of the page, the content on the page, or even the colors on the page. Similarly, a developer can ask for feedback about the product, the design ideas, or the user experience.
Collaboration with a developer is a two-way process. You need to understand the work that they do and vice-versa. Communication is key, and you need to be proactive in asking questions and seeking feedback. Setting expectations upfront and asking for feedback and iterations will help you collaborate better with a developer. If you follow these five tips, you will be better equipped to collaborate with a developer. This will also help you resolve any issues or challenges that you might face while working with a developer.