How well do you work with developers?
Newer designers often discover they have a gap in their tech skills. For whatever reason, they just don’t have a very good understanding of how computers and the internet really work.
They may have taken an HTML or CSS class at a bootcamp or in college. But it’s not enough to work effectively with developers. This is a growing problem in the industry.
Devs Are Creative
In my experience, developers are some of the most creative people I’ve ever worked with. They should be brought in early and often to a project, especially at the beginning.
A good developer will not only poke holes in a proposed solution (and they should), they can often imagine and craft workarounds that you may never even think of. So it’s important to lay the groundwork for solid communication from the start. How do you do that?
Talk To Them Regularly
First, you can work better with developers by scheduling regular 1:1 meetings with them. This will allow you to collaborate more effectively from the start.
Assuming you already have a solid grasp of technology, you can ask your developer better questions in a “safe” space. This will naturally lead to more robust conversations and more effective design solutions.
There is great wisdom in partnering with developers. Like you, they are often pulled in multiple directions on many different projects and have to work hard to keep up with ever-changing technology.
This might be challenging if you are working with an off-shore development team, but it’s definitely worth a try if management allows it.
Fight For Necessary Dev R&D Time
Talented developers often need sufficient time to thoroughly explore and solve thorny coding problems. This is especially true when the ideal solution pushes the established technology. This crucial R&D time often gets erased in the rush to do more with less.
As a UX design lead, you can help protect this time by demonstrating and defending its value to PMs and stakeholders.
Agree On A Standardized Handoff Process
Last but not least, if you haven’t already, start working with your dev team ASAP to agree upon and create a standardized handoff process. This way everyone will understand expectations up front, with less “gotchas” cropping up down the road.
For example, just because you put a red line with an arrow next to a text entry form doesn’t mean your developer understands what it means. Any handoff documentation should clearly explain how the user needs to interact with the system and how that system should behave. You’ll likely save yourself and your team many last-minute headaches by establishing a shared vocabulary from the beginning.
Working closely with developers is one of the smartest things you can do as a designer and a key to creating great user experiences. What are your best tips to work well with developers? Let me know in the comments.