The peace bridge: Tools and practices to help designers and developers work together

Part II. Communication

Peace BridgeThe mutual goal that website designers and website developers share is to create compelling, informative, and well–structured websites. It requires a close working relationship. As with much in life, this relationship relies on effective communication. If a website suffers from design or programming problems, your end user will not be a user at all, they’ll be gone. So, what are the best strategies for achieving effective communication between designers and developers?

Designers provide site visitors with a visual experience that may include interaction such as animation, drop downs, popups, sliding galleries, etc. Designers bring balance to the page. They combine a knowledge of how colors convey ideas, the use of white space for balance, and more, to form the user experience.

Developers, though always willing, might not be able to implement exactly what a designer intended. The developer’s function—the technical perspective of the site user’s experience—may conflict with the designer’s form. Being able to advise on alternatives and knowing what enhances or hinders loading time, what visual effects may be unnecessary, or what is just downright impossible—is a large part of how the developer adds value to the user’s ultimate online experience.

Developers See It First

Before a comprehensive design is shown to a client, it is a good idea to review it beforehand with the developer. If a specific function is unclear or unnecessarily complex, if a better alternative exists, or is impossible to code (rare), the developer can spot these issues before a client reviews it. This prevents retracting features you may have already promised, and, perhaps even worse, revealing a lack of communication between the designer and developer. That said, a good designer will already have a strong background on what will work from a developer/programmer perspective.

Crystal Clear and Unassuming

Designers should discuss all the functions of a proposed design with the developer, so they are both crystal clear on what is possible based on the design, and also what other options might be available. A lot of time can be wasted designing with the intent of creating one function, while the developer is coding with the intent of creating something else. If a navigational menu design is supposed to perform multiple functions, the designer needs to be clear in conveying the details to the developer, who can then confirm they understand by stating the plan back to the designer. Developers should not assume how something is expected to function—ask. If there is any doubt, explore further. A world–class developer will not rule out any function of good design until they have exhausted all possible solutions. Be open to a challenge.

Learn From Each Other

If a developer renders images in a format the designer didn’t intend, or somehow impacts the harmony of the designer’s intended form, the designer should let them know why it doesn’t work and what format works best. If a designer explains the logic behind an aspect of their design and the developer determines it won’t work, they should let the designer know why it won’t work and provide solutions that do. Whether designer or developer, explaining your intentions logically lets each learn from the other, and prevents repeat mishaps.

In Part III, the final in our series, we will discuss best practices for designers and developers that result in an efficient and harmonious work flow.

Read Part 1 here.

Posted by Kevin Williams | Design, Programming and Coding, Best Practices, Communications | Comments 0 |
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