Your design team may be missing something that’s crucial for a good user experience, a solid end product, and happy clients.

Collaboration

Having worked in the industry for over 8 years, one thing I’ve learned to be true is that if your design and development teams don’t communicate, and communicate often on projects, in the end, it’s your project that could suffer.

Here’s how it typically goes: you get briefed on a project—sometimes the development team is present, sometimes not—and the design team works its magic to create a custom solution with all the bells and whistles they can think of, and after hours upon hours are spent on the visuals, the design team hands it off to development.

What’s wrong with this picture?

There’s a lack of communication between teams.

What should this process look like?

There should be communication among all teams touching the project from beginning to end, and in between every possible point.

If you’re not talking with each other, what may seem like a small change in the designer’s eye may have a huge impact on the project and its performance. In addition, a lack of communication can lead to designs that may not be possible to build, projects that come with avoidable complications, and wasted time on revisions. And to think this could have all been avoided if the designer had just included the developer from the beginning.

Another thing to consider is that lack of communication not only affects the developer, but it affects the client is as well. If the client signed off on designs before you showed them to the developer, it reflects poorly on the whole team when the developer isn’t able to execute the designs. When designers make decisions without including the developer, in the end, there may be greater consequences.

One last thing to keep in mind is that developers might suggest an idea that the designer may have never thought of or dismissed as impossible. Because many designers are not well versed in development, they may not know all the possible capabilities. By collaborating with the development team, they could possibly take your ideas and build upon them, taking them further than you could have ever imagined.

So, what are some effective tools and how can you communicate successfully with your team?

  • Always make sure someone from the development team is present during the kickoff.
  • It’s really important that everyone is speaking the same language. Be sure to go over any new terminology in the beginning if it’s specific to the project.
  • I’m a big fan of open concept offices; it lends itself to a more collaborative environment, but if that’s not an option, make sure your teams are sitting within an arms length of each other.
  • And finally, have team building outings and have them often. By this, I don’t mean going for happy hour! While that’s fun, the benefits of going to productive, educational, and collaborative workshops together reinforce excellence among teams and lead to a wealth of creativity and innovation on projects. BlueMetal NYC recently participated in a workshop facilitated by The Design Gym and the response was outstanding. Not only did everyone learn something, they had fun doing it.

Brian Krall sums it up nicely, “It is crucial for all roles to be looped in and to have meaningful access to each other, not only for decision-making, but for brainstorming and healthy debate.”1