Although UX designers and developers may bring different skill sets to the table, at the end of the day, we are all trying to create the best experience for the user— and it’s when we put our creative minds together that we can achieve the most remarkable outcomes.
While at some companies the role of designer and developer are one in the same, at many others, the two roles must work both simultaneous and congruently.
The relationship between designer and developer can thrive if you remember to focus on the following:
- Agile processes
- Learn (some) code
Communication is key and the sooner you start the better.
Do you have an amazing innovative idea that you think would enhance the user experience beyond belief? Great! Now communicate that idea with your developers and make sure that it’s feasible given project constraints. If you’re excited, they will be too, but we just want to avoid wasting both your time and theirs.
No wants to put energy into a 100-page wireframe deck only to be told on page 3 that the concept is not possible. Talk early and talk often.
The waterfall method, which is based on a series of deadlines and handoffs from team to team, is not always the best workflow for designers and developers.
Instead, an agile process, which is based on fast iterative cycles, can be preferable for immediate and constant feedback and collaboration between teams. Think about it; you will no longer have to worry about the client falling in love with a concept only to pass it off to the developers and realize the design is not feasible.
An agile process lets you test and iterate often. When this process is integrated into the workflow cycle, the developers will be expecting changes and the process provides room for this back and forth workflow.
Learn (some) code
Don’t be overwhelmed by this request! It is important that you take the time as soon as you can to learn some basics of web (or mobile) development. While I’m not asking you to build an entire website, it is important that you can communicate (told you communication was key) with developers through a universally understood language.
But remember, you are not alone in this. It is okay to encourage your developers to learn basic design principles as well.
Empathy and respect
As user experience designers, we are trained to empathize with our users, so let’s make sure to do that with our developers as well. We are all teammates working together towards a common goal. Throughout your process and workflow make sure to demonstrate respect and empathy towards one another.
Yes, I know this may seem trivial but I assure you it’s not! It’s worth mentioning here because we have all had that feeling of crashing deadlines and pulling late nights. We need developers and they need us and it does no one any good to treat each other with disrespect.
The best relationships come from sitting next to your teammates. Designers and developers should be encouraged to sit next to one another in order to facilitate faster and more open communication (there’s that word again!).
A bond forms when you sit next to someone at work. In these situations, one-off questions feel like teamwork and collaboration instead of incessant pestering.
So what are you waiting for? Pull up a chair, learn some code, and start a conversation.