6 Ways Designers and Developers Can Collaborate Better and Build Stellar Apps

Of the over two million apps available, 60% of the Apple App Store apps are never downloaded at all. Clearly, there are good apps and there are bad ones. Every business wants to build a good and successful app, and yet, not enough apps make any real revenues. Why is that? If you believe a study by Kony, the leading cause of lowered performance in apps is designer-developer friction.

designer and developers collaboration

Building a good app cannot be a one-man job. It requires a harmonious collaboration of the designers and developers to create an app that truly delights the user. However, in far too many instances, designers and developers harbor differences in opinion and mutual apprehensions about the other team. Designers fear that their designs will be altered due to technical limitations and developers sometimes feel that the designs are too farfetched and non-executable. Dave Shirk, Executive Vice President and CMO, Kony commented that:

“Business users, designers and developers don’t see eye to eye when it comes to user experience and interface design, which can cause costly delays and mobile app failures, leaving the business looking for a better answer.”

Businesses cannot afford these delays and app failures, and that is why it is vital that designers and developers get along and collaborate better so that the app is a collective result of the best of both teams.

Here are 6 ways designers and developers can collaborate better and work together to produce stellar apps every single time:

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1. Keep the Larger Goal in Vision

As a designer, your job is not just to create a design; it is to help create a great app. Similarly, as a developer, you aren’t just writing a piece of code, you too are helping the business be creating a great app. Both the teams are in this together, with the same end goal. Sure the systems, technologies and roles may be different but you want the same thing. You are partners and not competitors. So remember the goal and keep your eyes on the prize.

2. Remember to Put the User First

As someone who draws designs or writes code every single day at work, it is sometimes possible to get carried away by emotions, ambitions and technology. You want to try the latest trends and add all the possible bells and whistles to the app, you want to flaunt your skills and create a product that will appeal to your sensibilities. However, you must remember that you are doing this for the end user and not yourself or your peers. You need to put the user up, front and center when building an app. Having performed a thorough user research, design the app so that it can be easily used by each of your users.

3. Get the Developers Involved Early On

One of the most important things to do in order to boost collaboration is to initiate it as early as possible. That means, you need to bring in the developers early on, right from the very first design huddle. This way, both the designers and developers can envision the same results and set clear goals. They can see what direction their efforts need to take and just what they need to do to support each other through the process.

It so often happens that the developers have no idea of what the design department has been doing until the hand-off happens, which means that the designers have completed the design and only then do the developers take over. At this stage, if they wish to propose any change in the design, no matter how minor, it can take weeks to implement it on all levels. In case any significant changes are required, you are easily looking at a delay of months.

Instead, if the designers and developers are in tandem from the very beginning and update each other on the proceedings more often, changes can be made more quickly and smoothly.

4. Try to Familiarize with Each Other’s Process

The process of designing and developing can be fairly different from each other, even though they are working towards the same goal. Making an effort to try and familiarize yourself with the other department’s process can be extremely helpful in collaborating. Of course you have enough to do already and taking out time to learn anything new might seem impossible, but just a cursory understanding would be enough to let you anticipate the collective workflow and keep things working harmoniously.

Developers would do well learning a little bit about Photoshop, Sketch and Illustrator while designers could acquire a basic understanding of HTML, JavaScript and CSS among others. Getting acquainted with each other’s jargon, basic workflows and common challenges lends a camaraderie to the process that goes a long way in fostering mutual respect and appreciation. It also makes it so much easier to communicate in the later stages, when changes or revisions need to be made.

5. Use the Right Technology

A workman is only as good as his tools. So be sure to use the very best tools whether you are designing and developing. Using the best tools and technology facilitates easy adaptation across teams and departments. Some tools such as InVision for prototyping are purposefully designed to promote collaboration. It has great feedback tools, idea boards and project management support to make sure every member is on the same page. Similarly, tools like Zeplin for prototyping, Trello for tracking assignments and tasks, Mural for managing remote teams and plenty others are the kinds of tools that are popular industry wide for their collaborative qualities.

6. Nail the Documentation

At the time of the hand-off, the one thing that is central to how the developers perceive the design is the documentation. So make sure you have all the requisite documents from the Copy, to Interactions and a Checklist, in addition to the specs, assets and mock-ups. This will help the developers clearly perceive your ideas, vision and goals and execute the design just the way it was meant to be.

Wrapping Up

Creating an app that looks great, works flawlessly and delights users with every tap, touch and pinch requires that everyone working on the app gets along, collaborates and moves with the flow. A streamlined process facilitates frequent communication, easy revisions, holistic development and fantastic results. The above steps will help you get your teams to work with that very synergy and lead to the perfect product you’ll be happy to show off.

6 Ways Designers and Developers Can Collaborate Better and Build Stellar Apps
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