Dream team design & development: Collaboration succeeds with these 8 tips
Software and Design teams work closely together in digital product development. But interdisciplinary collaboration also always involves great challenges: Starting project sprints without the design or transfer of the design is not useful in development. Do you know such situations? Our 8 tips will turn your Design and Software team into a successful dream team.
Interdisciplinary collaboration – challenge for Design and Software
For product development to run smoothly, all disciplines – especially Design and Development – must work well together. The Software and Design departments look at the product they are developing from different perspectives: Designers have design language, brand and user experience in mind. Software developers focus on technical feasibility, performance, stability and technical limitations.
Little understanding of each other's point of view and way of thinking, poor communication and lack of cooperation often makes collaboration inefficient. This results in additional work thus increasing costs in the project. In interdisciplinary teams, everyone has the same goal: to complete a successful project and develop a great product. How can you change that? Our 8 tips will show you how to improve the collaboration between Design and Software.
8 tips for optimal design software collaboration
1. Change the perspective: For successful interdisciplinary collaboration, put yourself in each other's shoes. That means: Develop an understanding of each other and learn from each other. For example, as UX designers, familiarize your Software colleagues with user requirements. Explain the user journey to them and invite them to usability testing. In turn, it makes sense for designers to know technical contexts and understand how your design affects development: What technology is used to implement the design? Does this involve restrictions? Are there design decisions that have a huge impact on the implementation effort?
2. Clarify technical specifications: You should always clarify technical conditions as early as possible: Are there existing complicated components that need to be adopted? How has the encapsulation between UI, data and calculations been so far? UI components can be different and function differently depending on the framework. Example: Just because a calendar control is already used in one application doesn't mean that your Software Development team can easily adopt that control in another application. If sizes, colors or patterns are different, adjustments are required.
3. Exchange information regularly: Based on our experience, we recommend you that you involve all project stakeholders in sprints and agreements from the beginning. It is best to invite all disciplines to a detailed kickoff workshop at the start of the project. This prevents silo thinking and ensures continuous communication in the development process.
4. Define transfer formats: Before you develop the first concepts and drafts of your product, clarify exactly which resources your developers really need. Decide together on the format for your layouts that the software can best work with. This way, you ensure in the design that the software can later also utilize your deliveries.
5. Check your assumptions: The respective wording of the Design and Software teams is not always clear, as each discipline uses the terminology from its day-to-day work, tools and platforms. Don't just assume that the other discipline is familiar with your wording and for sure knows what you mean. You should always check assumptions about each other's knowledge again to avoid misunderstandings and additional work. Clarify terms directly at the start of the project and create a common glossary if necessary.
6. Use collaboration tools: Tools like Figma specialize in the development of digital products. You have the advantage that you can look at your design drafts together with your developers. Changes are quickly adjustable in real time with one click. Existing controls can be further developed collaboratively. This facilitates the work of Software Development. It often becomes apparent during implementation that designers have not described all the states of the controls.
7. Establish a design system: A design system ensures that everyone on the project team speaks the same visual language when designing digital products and services. This improves communication and collaboration between disciplines.
As a single source of truth, the design system defines important design elements such as colors or typography, shapes, symbols or animations – everything that characterizes the interaction and design of a brand. It contains reusable components, including clear rules and principles on how to use them. The UI components are already implemented as code snippets. This reduces coordination efforts between Design and Development and unnecessary additional work: Design and Development do not have to reinvent and discuss design solutions over and over again. Rather, they can take the appropriate UI components from the design system to develop new features or digital products. This makes their work more efficient and also increases quality.
8. Become ONE team: How does a team with different disciplines come together? In product development, the focus is on the process and the desired result. But the people who develop the product are often given too little attention. In team workshops, consciously familiarize yourself with your strengths, but also your challenges as a team. Develop common values that guide you in your work as a team. Because a targeted team development lays the foundation for a trustful cooperation and improves your results in the team. We are happy to help you!
Interdisciplinary collaboration presents teams with challenges time and again. Adopting other perspectives helps to understand what is important for the other discipline in the project. Remains in communication throughout the project. Properly uses tools such as collaboration tools and design systems. This is how you bring people with different backgrounds and mindsets together successfully in digital product development in the long term.