Making the designer–developer relationship work - Rubin/Smith

Steve Smith is a recognized authority on front-end development and interface design. He is an entrepreneur, founder of Ordered List, and co-founder of Sidebar Creative, both of which are outlets for his professional work. Dan Rubin is a highly accomplished user interface designer and usability consultant, with over ten years of experience as a leader in the fields of web standards and usability, specifically focusing on the use of XHTML and CSS to streamline development and improve accessibility.

Too often, say Smith and Rubin, there is an artificial divide between developers and designers. The goal is to understand the silly gap that exists and to learn to work together to create better outcomes. They played some role plays to show the preconceptions that both sides of the fence often have. Developers don't feel that they're included in the process enough while designers have a tendency to be control freaks. The fact is both parties have the same target—a good end result for the users.

Some things to help the process - for the developers;

  1. Brainstorm togther at the beginning of the project
  2. Get input from the developers during the design process - ask the right questions
  3. Review design internally before presenting

and for the designers:

  1. Discuss problems to be solved by design at the beginnning
  2. Evaluate solutions during internal design reviews
  3. Explain how you arrive at design decisions

They gave some tips for developers approaching the inevitable design problems:

  1. Speak up—let designers know what's causing the problems
  2. Decide together if the functionality is really needed
  3. Often the extra work results in a better product

and when developers don't deliver what the designer wanted, tips for dealing with that:

  1. Understand the constraints of the medium
  2. Explain why you want things a certain way
  3. Find compromise when things aren't perfect

So a few of solutions that Smith and Dan came up with:

  • Do collective brainstomring at the start of a project
  • Blur the lines between Design & Development
  • Encourage collaboration
  • Learn how to trust
  • Be a teacher
  • Hire better people!

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