Practical tips to avoid collaboration pitfalls between product designers and developers.

Kerry Edward


3 min read
“The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.”
Robert Henry

Effective collaboration between designers and developers is essential for product success. Let's explore some practical tips aimed at product designers to steer clear of some common pitfalls.

1. Take initiative: Use experimentation to explore options.

In the collaborative process between designer and developer, solutions will not always be evident. To address this, proactively generate design options to address project issues. Rely and trust on team feedback to refine these options and create a collaborative decision-making environment.

2. Design system updates: Evaluate costs and benefits.

Design systems are foundational in UI design, but unnecessary updates can be resource intensive. Before proposing changes, consider the time, effort, and financial implications. Assess the benefits of the update to ensure alignment with design and development goals, minimising the impact on productivity and potential lost opportunities.

3. Help communication: Encourage prompt interaction.

Waiting for formal meetings to address issues can slow down development. Urge developers to reach out promptly with questions or concerns through various communication channels, such as video calls. Streamlining communication accelerates progress towards a developer's definition of done.

4. Share user testing outcomes and evidence with developers: Enhance understanding.

Sharing user testing outcomes is vital for creating a shared understanding of users. This practice enhances the final product's quality and fosters a deeper connection between designers and developers.

5. Decode jargon: establish clear communication.

Miscommunication often arises from different teams using industry-specific jargon. Take time to understand the language used by developers and clarify unfamiliar terms. This practice prevents confusion and enhances collaboration.

6. Show and tell: Enhance clarity through visuals and communication.

In the fast-paced design and development environment, relying solely on showing or telling can lead to misunderstandings. Utilise both methods to effectively convey ideas. This approach ensures clarity in design artefacts, especially when designers are ahead in sprints.

7. Embrace different perspectives: Openly discuss and commit wholeheartedly.

While decisions are being made, engage in open discussions about what works and does not work. When decisions are made, commit to it wholeheartedly, even if it does not align with your initial preferences.

By following these practical tips, product designers can enhance collaboration with developers, promoting a smoother journey from design to implementation. The focus is on creating an environment where team members contribute their insights and expertise. As Robert Henry said, “The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in a state which makes art inevitable.”

Image ref: Image recreated from original illustration of Activision’s Pitfall, by DavidCrane

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