How to Get Your Designers and Developers Working Together

Designers and developers often work in tandem to complete a large scope of projects, such as website designs, mobile app revamps, product interfaces and digital marketing campaigns. However, despite working together on all these projects, the process is rarely a smooth sailing - there’s usually a disconnect between the two departments.

When designers and developers work efficiently together, the potential for creativity, tech innovation and exceeding project expectations is tremendous. The norm, however, is to only focus on the necessities for getting the project completed.

In this post, we’ll focus on the path to collaboration between these groups and how you can get your design and development teams to achieve it.

Design and Development – What do they do?

First things first – let’s clarify what is each team responsible for.

Design is primarily responsible for visual impact: designing digital banners, websites, mobile applications, product interfaces, email marketing templates and much more. Various titles would perform the above work, such as graphic designers, visual designers, illustrators, product designers, UI designers, UX designers, and web designers. This group uses design software, like Adobe Suite and Sketch, to create beautiful layouts and visual elements. Overall, they create the look and feel of any given project.

Development, on the other hand, is a more analytical group. Titles include front-end developers (program visual interfaces), web developers, mobile developers, and graphic developers. They take the design provided by creatives and figure out how to make it function across various platforms, such as websites, software, and mobile applications. Using HTML, CSS, Java, and other programming languages, they can make design files come to life and create a working user experience.

While both these groups need each other to complete projects, the groups often remain siloed, with limited communication between them. This is where projects can run into issues.

The problem with lacking communication

There are several issues that arise when designers and developers do not work together. If communication is lacking or a full project scope is not clear, both groups often experience:

  • Increased costs due to extra time spent on edits and extra development cycles which can lead to project inefficiencies,
  • Increased errors or bug glitches when reviews are done in silos and are not a part of the common workflow, and
  • Strain between departments and lack of alignment, with the focus often shifting to individual tasks and away from the common goal.

While it can take time to overcome these issues and build a foundation which supports collaboration, the benefits that come with working together can be seen immediately.

The outcome of collaborating

By developing and enabling your teams’ collaboration right from the start, conversations become easier and faster, and over time review cycles shorten. There’s a clear understanding of the project scope and what’s required for completion. Not only that, but there’s also less backtracking, as both teams are aware of the expectations and requirements for each individual team member.

Collaboration also not only creates a better experience for your teams – it also impacts the end user. By having a better understanding of each team’s challenges, processes and combined skill sets, designers and developers have the ability to create the best version of the product. This understanding also helps build empathy between the two teams, which is important for reducing the number of last-minute requests, helping determine realistic time frames and improving work capacity.

Tips on how to get your teams working together

While it may seem challenging to create a partnership between these groups, it’s worthwhile for your design and development teams to understand how to work together. Here are a few tips you can start with:

  • Build the relationship: strategically plan and encourage participation in team events, such as fun activities or outings to help the groups connect and get to know each other outside of a work environment. This positive relationship will often cross over to the workplace.
  • Set expectations: Establish a clear timeline for each group during the early stages of a project. Outline what the expectations are of each group and critical deadlines that need to be met, as well as dependencies and potential bottlenecks for each team.
  • Check-in: Schedule consistent check-ins throughout the project. Whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, coming together to discuss the project allows each group to be proactive, improve communication and make any changes, if necessary. Have an agenda or structure for each meeting and send out the summary of progress and commitments to all participants once the meeting is over.
  • Streamline the revision process: When developers or designers ask each other to make changes, request that they explain the reasoning for it. Using a simple change request template can help establish that structure. Clear versioning and naming conventions or in some cases, workflow tools and version control can also help ensure that everyone is on track with the latest asset.
  • Quick Tips for Designers:
    • Take the time to explain the vision of the project early to the development team. This way, they connect with the goal of the project, not just the static designs.
    • Design all work completely and provide in the correct file formats. This provides the best clarity for developers and starts the hand-off on a good foot.
  • Quick Tips for Developers:
    • If there is something that doesn’t work due to technical reasons, let the design team know right away and propose a solution. This will prevent any hiccups and backtracking down the line.
    • Keep the integrity of the design, as much as possible. Designers have selected each element for a reason - if something isn’t working, discuss it before making any changes.

We hope these tips can help you bring these departments together and create a strong foundation for future works. If you want to see how you can also create alignment between your sales and marketing department, check out our blog post “Improving Sales and Marketing Alignment with a Sales Enabelement Strategy".