Good Communication Between Designers & Developers

One of the most common antagonistic relationships in the modern tech workspace (and arguably the dumbest), is the one between designers and developers. Many stereotypes feed this working relationship: “Designers are too artistic”, or “Developers are not flexible”. Because of our diverse background and knowledge, we experience projects from different perspectives.

Honest disclaimer, I am a designer and therefore, my views may be skewed. However, in my experience, I have learned one or two things about navigating the different personalities and egos from both sides of the developer/designer coin.

Choose your weapon wisely: information flow between designers and developers can determine the outcome of a project. Making a style guide is not enough anymore, you need a channel to send the design features and updates in a fast and reliable way. On top of this, designers need to consider how to show mockups or prototypes to clients, who may or may not have technical knowledge (or even the will to use a new tool). Currently, there are many choices, Zeplin, Invision, Axure, etc. Whatever tool you choose, keep in mind to take some time to learn how to use it, and to teach it to others, we can’t assume they will automatically understand how it works. Which leads me to…

Don’t assume anything: as I mentioned, not everyone knows what you know, and people shouldn’t expect that you know what they know. If you don’t understand something, just ask! After all, you are all part of the same team moving towards the same goal, take the opportunity to learn from one another. Also, don’t belittle those who ask you about something and answer earnestly – treat them just as you would like to be treated. Take a brotherly approach and share the knowledge you have, and I guarantee, they will share theirs with you. If nothing else…

Just talk: it’s surprising how many problems could be solved if we just talk. As in any human relationship, communication is our best mechanism to understand each other. It’s hard to convey a professional opinion without attaching personal feelings, it just takes a little time and honesty to accomplish. Professional conversation involves much more than just everyone pointing out mistakes or complaining. Don’t feel insulted explaining your decisions and don’t be embarrassed to ask someone to do the same, remember that you and your team are building something relying on each other’s skills.

Whether you are a designer or a developer, remember that improving working relations is hard. Even if we can´t be friends with everyone in the office, we can always aim for a healthy, respectful and fun working environment. If anything, just remember that everyone in the company is working towards the same goal.


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