How to collaborate better in product development

How to collaborate better in product development

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How to collaborate better in product development

Great products are built by great teams! That means, it is essential to have a strong design-development relationship to create the foundation for success.

In product development, both areas - development and design - are equally important for the success of a product. While developers focus on technical feasibility and implementation, designers focus on the overall user experience, as well as the look and feel. When there is a lack of communication and collaboration between these two areas, it can lead to frustration and conflict. This can result in bad situations: Developers may feel that designers are not considering technical constraints, while designers may feel that their work is being compromised by developers.

How to enable the design-development relationship

Over the years we have learned how to navigate this relationship. There are several things that can affect this, but the biggest focus should be on the following 3 areas:

Communication and Collaboration

When designers and developers communicate clearly about the goals of each project, it can make a big difference. By having an initial discussion (e.g. kickoff meeting) at the beginning of a project on how to work, what worked well in earlier projects, and what didn't, a solid foundation can be created.

You should also collaborate early to detect technical constraints and decide how to work around them. By being in a loop early on, issues will be discovered and resolved before they become a problem later on in the project.

It is also important to have regular communication throughout the project to be able to quickly respond when changes occur. If the team only meets once a week or even less, it will be very difficult for them to keep in touch with each other.

Understand the expertise of each other

An understanding of each other's expertise is crucial for successful product development. This means designers should have at least a basic knowledge of programming to understand what the developers are working on, and vice versa.

Often, designers and developers think in different ways. This can make it hard for them to communicate effectively with each other. It is helpful for both parties to understand how their counterpart thinks about problems so that they can better collaborate together.

Proper Handoff

A well-structured and described documentation for the design-to-development handoff is the most crucial part. Without that, the best communication is worthless.

Assets like:

  • information architecture to show how the basic structure of the product should be build up
  • user flows to create an understanding of how the user moves through an app
  • wireframes to show depending structures
  • keyscreens to how the design system should take place in the product
  • prototypes to showcase the interactions desired
  • animations to show how movements should look in the real implementation
  • design system and design specs to show how the product should look like

have to be in place before the handoff. The developer needs to be able to understand what they need to do and how they can implement it. This will make sure that both parties are on the same page when designing or developing new features.


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