Designer-developer synergy: How to prepare your team for the ideal collaboration

Set your product team up for successful collaboration. Identify potential roadblocks early and facilitate solutions for harmony and dream work.

blog teaser
Victoria Granget
Co-Founder & UX Consultant
Linkedin Linkemail link

Team synergy is not a given

While product teams focus on delivering value to the end user and driving business growth, behind the scenes it can be a challenging process. Frustration and dissonance can creep in between UX designers and developers, even at the highest levels of professionalism.

This doesn't just affect the working environment, it has a direct impact on your roadmap and product quality, which in turn affects the user experience and overall business performance.

By identifying and addressing potential roadblocks early, you will be prepared to guide your team through some of the following situations using the "we've talked about this" card.

Pixel perfect vs. pragmatic implementation

Although modern design tools have made it easier to implement pixel-perfect designs with UI-to-code and documented systems, there will be times when developers must prioritise functionality and efficiency over minor visual details. In turn, designers may be inflexible when it comes to making design adjustments to accommodate technical constraints or optimise performance.

In these moments, it's important to communicate openly, weigh priorities, and find compromises without letting a climate of dissatisfaction setting in.

Changes mid-development

There can be various reasons for designers to introduce design changes mid-development, may it be for optimisations based on new information or a change request, this change disrupts the developers workflow that already coding previous designs.

Vice versa, developers can request changes to design element or layouts based on technical considerations, which can be frustrating for designers who need to rework their designs after initial approval.

Discussing technical constraints or feasibility issues early on is key to avoiding duplication of effort. But this situation tends to creep into the workflow no matter how prepared you are, so you need to be patient and empathetic with your counterpart, and remember that you are working toward the same goal.

Expectation management through experience and empathy through emotional intelligence are central to harmonious collaboration

Lack of documentation

Documentation is a critical asset for successful collaboration between designers and developers. It helps the latter understand design specifications and extract assets faster, and it helps the former ensure logic and consistency throughout the product. The lack of it can lead to guesswork and misuse of design elements, doubling the work of both parties to correct mistakes.

The ideation and iteration phases of design work can be messy, so be sure to allow enough time for designers to thoroughly clean up and document their work before developers get involved.

Human beings have emotions

Preparing your team for optimal collaboration also means dealing with human emotions and perceptions. Developers may find designers' feedback on their work vague or subjective, leading to defensiveness. And designers may feel undervalued when developers criticise design decisions without offering constructive suggestions or alternatives.

Make sure your team is able to communicate their feelings openly and implement a constructive feedback culture within the team.

Inclusive vs. exclusive dynamics

It is true that designers can feel possessive of their designs and reluctant to hear feedback from developers to iterate them. This attitude can lead to missed opportunities to improve the product. It is also true that developers can feel excluded from the design process and undervalued for their input on UX & UI issues.

Designers and developers need to overcome these biases and actively seek each other's input, which can contribute to better product quality.

Align the team on a clear vision

When timelines are tight, workflows are rushed, and stress is high, remind your designers and developers of the vision they share to rally them and get them past their problems to find common ground and build the best product possible to serve that vision.