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Closing the Gap Between Designers and Developers

Chelsey Kelley

Chelsey Kelley

25 July, 2017

Effective communication can solve so many day-to-day problems in business. Communication can become hindered by several things, but often it's a difference of personality. Designers and developers historically have different personalities as their work product is entirely different. Miscommunication occurs when one party can’t understand the goals or reasons behind decision making of the other. Ensuring that designs are correctly interpreted, and features are understood avoids compromise on both sides. With a little extra effort and the ability to step into the other party’s shoes, the gap between design and development can be closed.


What's the Problem?

Designers and developers are completely dependent on one another. Designers can create beautiful mockups, and maybe a low fidelity prototype, but that’s not a shippable product. Developers, on the other hand, can write executable code for a particular device type with really cool features that users may not understand because of a lack of design thinking.

Unfortunately, not all designers know how to code, and not all developers can design. Designers who can’t communicate are asking for their work to be lost. And developers who lack a UX/UI mindset will have difficulty getting the market to adopt their brilliant features.


How Designers Should Collaborate with Web Developers

As a company of developers and senior tech leads, we know what it takes to create beautiful, working products. We also have enough experience working with designers to know easy collaboration from pages of documentation with a whole bunch of misunderstanding. It starts with open communication.

While most developers should not work in a silo, they can make a piece of technology work. But just because it works doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable to use. Developers need designers. The number one asset a designer can bring to the development team is an understanding of the platform they are designing for. Developers don’t expect designers to know the ins and outs of the language they are writing in, but knowledge of what is simple or difficult to build is enormously helpful. Explaining the design elements from a technical standpoint helps to set the stage for great deliverables.

 

design_thinking_process_diagram.pngIn most web development processes, the design comes before the coding. It makes sense this way as initial designs can be conceived in much less time than working code can be written. Using this process also allows time for user testing and prototyping without wasting countless hours and dollars to build a full fledged product on day one. And while design does come first, so it seems obvious that the designer should simply have to communicate the look and feel of the product, web development process must flow in both directions. Web developers and designers should meet early on in the process to talk through implications of the language or technology being written in. Early consultation can lead to quicker development cycles and money saved in building the finished product.

 

Can Design and Development be the Same Person?

There is a definite need for hybrid workers when it comes to software development. The industry is moving towards this, but many find that the intersection of design and development is hard to arrive at for most people. If you are lucky enough to have a hybrid developer on your team, you’ll understand the value they bring tenfold. Hybrid developers have spent enough time coding and working with UX designers to create beautiful, working products. Their vast knowledge of platforms and technologies can guide them in creating practical yet beautiful applications.

In the world of web design vs web development the gap is apparent but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re in the industry, do what you can i.e. communicate early and often with your counterparts, to shrink and eventually close the gap. The software development space is ever-changing. Design and development, while different, are very much related. As both professions make efforts to understand their counterpart, products become more friendly, apps are downloaded more, and startups become unicorns. All ships can rise.

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