There are many approaches designers and developers can use when working together to complete projects. Some choose to keep the processes separate with a handoff approach, while others keep both involved throughout the entire process, working in tandem to complete the work. Through our experience with many different processes here at Focus Lab and Sidecar, we’ve devised a collaborative approach that complements the way we, as individual designers and developers, will work together best on a project.
Approaching Each Other From a Common Understanding
Collaboration is the key to achieving a cohesive experience delivered across all devices. We have found it helpful to have developers with design experience, and designers who not only understand the development process, but also the limitations to what can be done with their designs. With all team members understanding the need to have solid design but also solid code, we are able to work together with a common goal of creating the best experience.
When we start a project, the designer works closely with the client to determine the overall experience. We will wireframe, design the full desktop version of the site, and produce a UI style guide, which will be coded. From that point, the designs are handed off to the developer and we walk through the interactions. I will plan out the development with a mobile-first approach, visualizing desktop design as the end goal. I work closely with our designers to discuss brand elements and interactions throughout the development process in order to produce responsive layouts that are consistent with the designer’s vision.
“With all team members understanding the need to have solid design but also solid code, we are able to work together with a common goal of creating the best experience.”
Viewing Pieces in the Context of the Whole Project
This process allows for us to retain control over the code, while allowing me the freedom to write and lay out the elements in a way that flows more naturally: from mobile all the way up to the desktop experience.
From a client perspective, we understand we are asking for a lot of trust as we move into development without any client sign-off. But experience tells us that the end result will be more dynamic, better written, and more in line with the full experience than going through rounds of design changes to create the mobile and tablet experience. This process, for us, allows more time for the development to be refined and polished. It also helps us achieve more complex solutions, because the developer and designer are working together to solve problems as the development is happening.