In my previous roles as a Digital Designer I have always worked in silo. Here at UVd, I work really closely with Ryan, our Frontend Developer and it’s great. I thought I would write a blog about my two experiences and why I feel that it’s much better for designers and developers to work so closely, not only for myself and the team, but also for our clients.
From my past experiences and initial research, it seems that developers tend to be consulted fairly late in the design process which can result in design compromisation, general frustration from both parties, and ultimately the designs not matching the abilities of the platform. I am a firm believer that consulting design decisions throughout the application process is imperative to the success of delivering a great application. At UVd we believe that design and development should work in collaboration, with each discipline informing the other throughout the complete process. This differs to the linear approach (also known as Waterfall) to creating applications where activities happen consecutively and separately, that is the path to poor user experience, unhappy users and ineffective applications. Many developers have a great understanding of how a designer functions and what excites them, and thus should be valued as a respected companion in the problem solving process, rather than seen as a production resource. They are most qualified to spot potential problems in the architecture of any project, whilst the designer is responsible for the aesthetics of the application.
Ryan and I are currently working together on creating a Sales Booking Application for Thomson Local and have worked very closely to ensure the production of the application has been as efficient as possible. We’ve found that discussing wireframes and initial sketch ideas before development and design has really benefitted the process and saved time.
Working in collaboration early on in a project is key to creating a product that is both aesthetically pleasing and meets the user’s aims. Whilst both designers and developers have their own skillsets and strengths to contribute to a project, ultimately both disciplines are concerned with whether the application functions or not in respect to meeting end user needs.
How both disciplines define how it ‘works’ is where the fundamental focus differs. For the designer, the main focus is whether the product is aesthetically pleasing, intuitive and achieves the end users’ goals in the most simplistic way possible. For the developer, they are concerned with functionality and the infrastructure of the product and often with how to build a solution in the most efficient way. The key to success is to respect and understand the correct team members’ strengths and knowledge and to ensure both disciplines are fully utilised to create something brilliant.
A great example of our collaboration happened just today – Ryan and I were discussing the compromise between aesthetics and functionality. I was keen to fill the white space within the landing page in our application. I wanted to show more of the remainder of the application, whilst Ryan assured me the white space was essential to better direct the user to the functionality and thus improve the overall user experience. By discussing together we came to a solution that ensures the application is still aesthetically pleasing, whilst maintaining great usability. Our aim is always to create an enjoyable user experience that will engage users throughout. I feel aesthetics help to bridge the gap between the user’s emotions and the end product.
Close proximity between these roles is the key to creating a high quality product. Not only does it encourage better communication and effectively enhanced progression, working face to face can also build healthier relationships and better understanding of each other’s needs.
Working next to Ryan has been my first experience of working together with a Frontend Developer and I have really seen the benefits, not only development-wise, but it has enabled me to gain an invaluable understanding of a developer’s perspective and build a sympathetic relationship. It’s great to see my designs go into development almost immediately and to witness them come to life firsthand.
What Ryan has to say on working collaboratively:
Having designers and developers work closely together is paramount to the success of an agile team. Together we can react to changes quicker and iterate faster based on a collective understanding of what we’re trying to deliver. Working closely with a designer gives me the reassurance that any output won’t necessarily be framed entirely by implementation limitations and we’re always aiming for creative and innovative solutions to the problem. While a developer should always have the end user in mind – and will especially when it comes to concerns such as the application performing reliably and performantly – it’s relieving to have a designer by your side making sure the end user is ultimately going to be using a beautiful and intuitive product.