6 ways designers and developers can work together better

The relationship between web designers and web developers is key to any successful web project. At next week's Generate conference, SoDA, The Global Society for Digital Marketing Innovators, will hold a social experiment to determine what traits and preferences web designers and developers have in common. The results will be presented via live infographics, providing a fun way to bridge the design-development divide.

Meanwhile, Kyle Fielder - product designer and managing director at thoughtbot - offers his top tips to fostering good relations and making everyone feel they're on the same side...

01. Communication

At the root of any designer-developer problem, there's always some form of miscommunication. At the root of every healthy designer-developer relationship, there's positive, open communication. Enable open communication and you should have a healthy relationship.

02. Empathy and respect

Designers should understand basic development concepts like variables and functions. Know what a MVC framework is; know the limitations of JavaScript; know what's possible and feasible. Developers should understand web user experience and have an understanding of basic visual design principles.

Don't put down or simplify the work of another person. Remain respectful and assume that their job is just as difficult – if not more so – than your own.

03. Trust

Believing that your counterpart will accomplish his or her tasks correctly is invaluable. It's your responsibility to prove to others that you can be trusted. If you trust the people you work with, you can focus on finishing your own tasks.

04. Ensure proximity

The one thing that I've seen foster the best relationships between designers and developers is having them sit right next to each other. This encourages faster and more open communication. There's something about working face-to-face that builds more understanding and respect, too.

05. Remote working

That isn't to say that you need to be sitting next to each other to have good communication and develop a strong relationship. You may need to work a little harder, but having open chat rooms and regular video chats can ease that.

06. Designer-developer pairing

Pairing forces designers and developers to sit together and solve problems, providing each with an understanding of the roles of the other and what they do. This also forces those involved to be better communicators. For instance, pairing to discuss hard user experience problems for 15 to 20 minutes can help find a smarter solution more quickly.

Words: Kyle Fielder

This article originally appeared in net magazine issue 244.

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