10 Strategies For Working With Developers

While designers and developers are cut from a different cloth, a well managed combination of your skills can meet every client's needs. Just follow our 10 tips to working web wonders.

01 Start right
Make sure, at the beginning of each project, that the build goals are clearly defined and understood. If you, the designer, have a clear understanding of what the site is meant to do and the developers have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, the project should run pretty smoothly.

02 State your intentions
Understand the purpose of the site: the design must be suitable for the site purpose and functionality. A brochure-style site whose sole function is to market a business will look different to one that performs a specific function, such as enabling clients to access online services or purchase products.

03 Be practical
Some designs look fabulous, but are totally impractical for an interactive, data-heavy site. "A recent example was a site targeted at architects," says Owen Bennett, product director for Sprint Web Solutions. "The designer's initial design was stunning but did not present an environment in which users would feel comfortable working for a significant period of time."

04 Add to your toolbox
Have a basic grasp of developers' tools. In the AJAX-enabled Web 2.0 world, graphical user interfaces are becoming increasingly interactive. As this technology is predominantly 'front end', there's been a useful blurring between what can be delivered by designers and developers.

05 How to interact
Be clear about how you plan to use Web 2.0 interactivity to meet clients' needs. There are increased opportunities to offer interactive features, especially the opportunity to tailor visitor experience based on visitor profile - once a development-heavy undertaking. Web 2.0 opens up rich interactive features to most web-build projects and budgets.

06 Clarify responsibilities
Because design and development boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred, the build team should specify at the beginning of the process where the of each site feature. "The worst thing is for a design team to talk to the development team for the first time after the site designs are signed off," says Owen Bennett of Sprint Web Solutions.

07 Be information sensitive
Pay attention to information capture. Avoid showing content differences without capturing any means for determining between different visitors. Also, never capture visitor information without the knowledge or consent of the visitor.

08 Don't be too Flashy
Avoid insisting on Flash-heavy introduction pages. Even after years of people complaining about slow-loading Flash intros, many designers still think this is a desirable thing. Forcing visitors to watch progress bars is not in clients' interests.

09 Be resourceful
Use online developer resources with a view to gaining a better understanding of the kind of designs that work well. Some of the new AJAX resources provide good examples of what a modern Web 2.0 interface can do. Obout is a good example.

10 All style and much substance
When developers focus wholly on the functional aspects of a site, they can forget the psychological benefits that good design can bring. The web is a very competitive environment, so having a site that functions beautifully but doesn't appeal to its target audience is a recipe for failure.