5 ways Developers and UX Designers can work Better Together

One of the core competencies of being a UX Designer is empathy. You're designing for a certain demographic that has a potential want/need for your product. Keeping it simple and easy to use means that they will develop a habit of using it and it becomes their go-to product. 

As a UX/UI Designer I often have to remind myself that I'm designing for a user that isn't myself and that I should always think of them. 

However, I never always had that mindset.

I was in sixth form when I came to the realisation that I wanted to be a 'Graphic Designer'. I assessed my skillset at the time and decided that being a developer was a little 'too difficult' for me. I was an extrovert and I wanted people to see that in my work. I'd get a job in the industry, design awesome things using Photoshop and someone else will handle all the technicalities. Easy right?

Even during University, the Designers did their thing and the developers did theirs. It never occurred to me that the collaborative team modules we had with each other were a snapshot of our careers. I just thought it was our lecturers trying to be 'creative'.

But alas, that wasn't the case.

When I got my first job in the industry, I had the stark realisation that even though the design/experience was extremely important, it was only part of the product. 

Ensuring that the product was functional and scalable was an entirely different beast and could be considered more important. Depending on who you ask of course.

I quickly realised that I'd need to be a little less ignorant and adapt my mindset to better myself as a designer and that meant working with developers to create the best product possible. I would have to learn to acknowledge and respect their concerns, have a better understanding of their limitations and listen to their ideas.

It didn't happen overnight, it took time, but the more I tried, the less daunting it became. The more I started to understand the easier it became to better articulate my ideas to developers and I found myself becoming a better designer.

A developer reading this right now would be thinking 'good for you' sarcastically. I get it,  I've gone on about myself a bit but I wanted to be candid and show that I never had this 'UX and Developers work together' mindset that I do now.

Developers and designers can learn from each other but only if they're both willing. Having a 'I don't need to know that stuff' attitude is only going to hinder your progress. I think that developers that acknowledge that they aren't designers but are ready to question design decisions are awesome and vice versa.

With that said it's becoming increasingly common for designers to also be developers. We call those people Unicorns because their existence is always being questioned. 

From my personal experience, I found that the following things make it easier for developers and designers to work together successfully.

  1. Communicating with each other

Simple right? No! Tone down the technical jargon on both ends and stop flexing your smart-muscles. When communicating a problem that is technical, just humanise it so that everyone understands. Remember that is what you're trying to do with your product.

  1. Healthy feedback loop

It's ok to have an opinion, it's good to give feedback. I hate nothing more than someone constantly telling me something is fine when it isn't. Be sure to flag any issues you see with a design before you develop it and explain why. Make sure they understand the problem so they can find a solution, or suggest one.

  1. Embrace Change

Don't be complacent. Design and development standards and constantly changing. It's ok for applications and processes to change if they will have proven benefits. I don't recommend jumping to every new application because you'll end up creating more problems and no one likes legacy.

  1. Understand each other's processes

Who, what, when, where, why, how the heck out of every decision. Not obsessively but enough for you all to have an adequate understanding of how something is done.

  1. Just do it

I've learnt that developers aren't scary and designers aren't just creative extroverts. Working together means that we can better the overall experience of the product. Create awesome habits and most importantly, learn from each other.

ARTICLE BY ADE-LEE ADEBIYI - Lead UX/UI Designer at Papertrail.io

Adye-Lee is a Highly creative, multitalented, bilingual Designer with over 10 years of proven success increasing brand recognition and revenues in competitive markets for industry leaders through web, print and multimedia campaign management. Connect with him on Linkedin here.

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