The relationship between designers and devs has historically been challenging. Since the moment we recognize they are different, we are also acknowledging friction exists. How can we bridge the gap between the unfortunate misunderstandings, while a project comes to life?

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Let’s forget about the old idea that claims designers only focus is UX design and developers only focus is code. It is unfortunate that people who work on the same project are bound by communication issues and job titles. Designers should learn something about code just as developers should also learn something about design.

This gives everyone more of a shared language and understanding. Working together in harmony, they are capable of reaching great potential to create a fully functioning outstanding user experience and delivering a successful product.

Designers and developers in an office working together there are computers and a blackboard they are in a meeting  for a new agile project.

Start with Agile

Agile can be your ally when you’re trying to align devs and designers. How’s that? The Agile manifesto philosophy, among other commandments, calls us to:

  • Respond to change better than following a fixed plan.
  • Always put people first over tools and processes.
  • Deliver with iterations of small releases, more often.
  • Transparency, empathy, and communications above all.

When reading between the lines, we can start distinguishing how Agile can help us transition steps and processes smoothly through consensus, synergy, and adaptation capability.

  • If we can better respond and adapt to change, we then are better prepared to be flexible and answer not only to external but also to internal situations that can arise.
  • If we put people first, we then are prioritizing collaborative work and respect, above design or code.
  • If we work with small releases, we are more open to a back and forth process that requires constant participation for both sides.
  • If we prioritize transparency, alignment and consensus are more likely to happen.

This image represents the UX challenge is to not l of the dynamic between designers and devsse sight of the whole project and  present a solution that will be viable for business, feasible to build and desirable for users.

3 resources for collaboration between devs and designers

With Agile in mind, consider these three resources that will help you keep friction to a minimum among this cross-functional team.

A) Work with prototypes

Prototypes are the best way to bring into life what you’re both imagining or proposing. It’s hard to translate the design into code. If you don’t work with prototypes you can consider several tools that will allow the translation to flow better:

Each of these platforms will help to reduce stress during the handoff from designers to devs.

B) Encourage collaborative MVPs

Lean brings us the idea of working with the minimum possible and with a viable expression of the product we’re developing. Implementing iterations more often, smaller adjustments, and if we make a mistake, acquiring the loss in terms of budget and stress for the team won’t be as excessive as if you were working on a much larger release.

Don’t forget to craft this MVP in a collaborative way. Foster people to connect together in their work, ensuring everyone is on the same page and understands each other’s weaknesses, strengths and, of course, everything related to what they have committed to develop. The ideal scenario is for designers and devs to have a working relationship on the same feature (whether it’s a simple text, a div, or a form) at the same time.

Design systems will also help lighten the work for both design and implementation through patterns components and elements you can reuse. It will also assure consistency as well as faster-accomplished iterations.

Encourage both designers and devs to communicate effectively by frequently checking in and touching base with each other throughout the entire project lifecycle while documenting any necessary components that help to understand how to assemble the product as a whole.

C) Avoid unnecessary UX debt

When you discover your product’s UX that you are providing to users is substandard,, then you’re face to face with UX debt. Since we don't work with static products, as everything evolves, there will always be a UX debt backlog. The objective here is to avoid dragging debt from the beginning.

If you get rid of unnecessary initial UX debt, you’ll avoid reworking on previous releases to productively focus on upgrades only. As a result, this will enable your team to clear out the UX debt backlog from time to time and you won’t find yourself always in red.

From the beginning, your ultimate goal is to find the balance between a product that is functional, reliable, and usable, while always improving and advancing techniques to produce a more gratifying product.

One necessary key is to make sure everyone is on the trend. Both designers and devs should be updated on the latest tools and practices regarding usability.

Designers and devs have overcome their differences and are working together in an office with a yellow laptop and other computers, it is a very nice and modern office.

Hand in hand for a top-notch UX

Now the team gets it: we are working for the same objective. We have managed to do away with that old competition and direct everyone's focus on working hand in hand to achieve the best result. Better fluency, faster development, and higher quality. Collaboration as the first step towards top-notch results. Nevertheless, the job is not over. We mentioned dev language and designer language are diverse. How can we reach a common ground relating to language?

The more you’re involved in the other’s work, the more likely this barrier is to fall down. Being empathetic, showing encouragement, and respectful exchange between devs and designers using Scrum rituals, like retrospectives, exhibits that scrum events are the perfect skeleton mold for the product production process to organically function. Make sure to always include everyone in the meetings. If this cannot happen, ensure that they are at least informed and have the possibility of making their own contributions later.

In spite of coming from two wholly diverse universes with unique backgrounds and perspectives, if we manage to build a trustworthy space without hierarchies, both devs and designers can gather and converge into one top-notch crew now and again to create something amazing.

As you see, although it can be a challenging dynamic, it can be also a harmonic one that drives even better results. At Tonic3 we are an agile company that has put together designers and devs teams for the last 24 years for the biggest companies in the world.

If you're interested in knowing how we can help you boost your projects with top talent, you can access here and schedule a no-commitment consultation with one of our UX specialists.

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Tonic3 Tonic3 is a multi-national digital agency providing UX, VR/AR, and Software Development services with delivery centers in Dallas, TX and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Clients include Citi, McDonald's, Disney, Accenture, BMW, Danone, Banamex, Johnson & Johnson, and Sofitel.
Team as a service, User experience, Software development.
Team as a service, IT Strategy, Software development, IT outsourcing.

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