Successfully Merging Design and Development? Communication is Key

An image of a blackboard with plans and calendars sketched on it.

Communications is the key to unlocking success. But what does that mean? And what role can we play to make sure that we’re all speaking the same language and delivering amazing experiences for our clients?

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the Dev and Industry Design Night. It was an event put together by three groups: Ladies that UX (of which I’m a part), the Front End Developer Meetup Group, and the Full Stack Meetup Group.

The event, held in the London Life auditorium, was attended by over 70 industry people representing front-end and back-end developers, designers, and user experience professionals from in and around London.

The overarching theme of the event? Communication, communication, communication.

We all know that making sure everyone understands the project, goals, and deliverables is the foundation of project success. But how do we get there? Last night, we discussed a number of options and methods. Here are my high-level thoughts and takeaways:

Communicate Early and Often

This is a great way to not only flesh out ideas, but also make sure that nobody’s going overboard when it comes to scope and deliverables. You don’t want to run into a situation where a designer proposes something to a client that ends up being incredibly challenging (and time/resource-consuming) for a developer to execute.

If we communicate early on, this allows designers and developers the opportunity to vet those ideas, discuss them more thoroughly, and ensure that the idea’s actually feasible within the scope and budget of the project.

It’s also a great opportunity to work with project or account managers. Maybe that idea doesn’t work for this project, but it could be part of a phase two or secondary project.

Make Knowledge Handover Matter

It’s one thing to have ideas. It’s another thing entirely to ensure that the next person in the process understands. Meetings, like I mentioned above, are great, but when you can complement those with other assets, then you have a better chance of ideas being understood fully.

This is really important when you’re moving from a designer to a developer. We often share mockups, but perhaps we need to be more explicit in what we do. If a designer intends for there to be a change in presentation during a hover state, then they have to ensure the developer’s aware that’s there. This may mean mocking up more elements or pages, but that clarification up front can save a lot of time in redevelopment at the end.

Have a Strong System in Place

There are two parts to this. Obviously, you need a strong design system in your organization that everyone understands. This sets the foundation for the work we’re doing, but also allows for other people to jump into a project and get up to speed quickly. If you know the system, things become intuitive and processes are more easily repeated. The end results are all going to be unique, but it’s important to have as much structure as you can.

But, equally as important, you have to act like a team. If you watch hockey, the forwards don’t just stop at the red line and wait for the defence to get them the puck. And the guys on the blueline don’t just stay back and wait for the action to come to them. All five players work together, supporting each other and filling in gaps. If a defenceman rushes the puck, a winger will drop back to make sure they’re covered.

That idea of one cohesive unit is really important to our clients. It’s not us against them; development versus design.It’s both groups -- along with every other part of the organization, from client-focused sales and marketing, to UX, all the way to support -- working together to provide the best possible experience to our end users.

It was great to see so many people at the event last night and we’re really lucky here in London that we have so many opportunities for on-going learning. With that in mind, I wanted to remind you that UX Centre Stage, hosted by Ladies that UX, is less than a month away! You can still get early bird tickets for this Oct. 20th event, which will be head at Fanshawe College’s Oxford St. campus. I hope to see you there!

Photo of the Dev and Industry Design Night, put together by three groups: Ladies that UX (of which I’m a part), the Front End Developer Meetup Group, and the Full Stack Meetup Group.

Photo of the Dev and Industry Design Night, put together by three groups: Ladies that UX (of which I’m a part), the Front End Developer Meetup Group, and the Full Stack Meetup Group.

Questions Answered

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