Designers and developers are notorious for not getting along, a problem that stems from a lack of communication and often little understanding of what it is the other one actually does.
The good news is that a few simple tactics can go a long way to increase productivity and pump life into the constant back-and-forth that is website development.
Here are some tips that will help those developers and designers looking to take their collaboration skills to the next level:
1. Keep everyone involved in the whole process. Don’t leave your fellow collaborators out of any part of the process—when it comes time to integrate, you may be faced with unexpected challenges that demand more brainpower! Start with wire frames that have been approved by the client, the engineer/developer and the designer. And when the mockups come together, sit down and make sure that the process, workflow and features reflect what everyone has signed off on.
2. Try not to take edits personally. At the end of the day we’re trying to create easy user interactions bundled in beautiful web sites. Agile process, constant communication, smart use of filesharing tools, demos and meetings BEFORE the project is “final” is super important.
3. Test across browsers. Internet Explorer 7,8,9; Firefox 3.5,4.0; Opera; Chrome; Safari; iPad; iPhone; Blackberry; Droid…should I go on? We thought IE6 made our lives difficult, now it seems that there are as many platforms as there are end users. Budget at least 10-20% of your total time towards finding the right platforms. Anticipate the edge cases (what if a user does X then Y then Z instead of just Z?). The testing and QA-ing process CANNOT be underestimated.
4. Know your audience and don’t tailor the site to edge cases. Implementing the latest and greatest in design technology only works if your audience has kept up. New web technologies are great but won’t work if 80% of your end users are on older technology. Same goes for design: if you are making a website targeted at older audiences, don’t use small fonts or texting acronyms!
5. Stay in touch. I cannot emphasize it enough. Do not spend three weeks designing something without sharing your iterations with others. As a rule, try to share your work two or three times a week, even if it’s incomplete, so you don’t waste time going in the wrong direction. And make sure the client see things as you see things. Too many cooks in the kitchen can be a bad thing, but not having the right cooks can spoil the dish.