OpenSense Labs: The Role Of Frontend Developers To Help Close The Gap Between Development And Design Teams

The Role Of Frontend Developers To Help Close The Gap Between Development And Design Teams
Tuba Ayyubi
Fri, 10/30/2020 – 10:33

If you have worked with a designer, you probably have heard them complain a lot about giving feedback to developers to correct font sizes, spacing, or layout aspects. This can lead to a weakening of trust between developers and designers. Developers are often misunderstood on being ignorant about the details given by the design team

For instance, after a designer has spent their time working on designs for a website, and put a solid effort in every little detail of the design and the designs have been approved by the client. After a few weeks of the developers working on the technical part, the designers are asked to review the website. They get excited and open the website to see a very different one. They start noticing spacing, wrong fonts and colors used, etc. The designers get frustrated looking at all the details and that’s where the gap begins.

What could have been the problem? Well, maybe the communication gap turned out to be the cause of the misunderstandings between the two. These misunderstandings give rise to many questions. How many times did the two have a conversation? Were there motion prototypes? How did the handover look? Was there a handover meeting?

In this article, I will take you through some important points that will give you a better understanding of how to bridge the gap between the developers and the designers. But before that let’s understand the problems that arise during handover between the two.

Designer-Developer Handover

The handover of the design details from the designer to the developer is likely to happen at some point. It is important to plan out some time for a meeting that will help in giving a clear understanding of both.

There is no doubt that there can be initial hiccups once the two teams start working together. And this is why handover meetings are important. The opinions of the two can be contrasting but are definitely worth the effort. Always remember to ask questions on every page, design, feature, visual, component, etc. Ask for clarification wherever necessary. 

Compromise and build

The developers need to talk to the designers about something that they find wrong in the designs or maybe if they are unable to implement it for a reason. They should make sure they use non-technical terms while explaining. Instead of saying things like, ‘this can’t be built’ ‘we cannot build this’, back your points with valid reasons. If needed, give suggestions and alternative solutions that can be used to improve the designs and make it easier for the developers to implement. To look at an example, read the complete guide on website redesign strategy here.

What hinders the path of cross-collaboration?

The main challenge that disrupts collaboration between the design and development team is the way with which each team approaches problems. As the design is user-oriented, designers mainly specialize in user experience while the dev team is solution-oriented, the developers mainly target the features that aren’t a part of the solution.

In fact, the approach of every team is correct in the context within which they operate but to bridge this gap between the two teams, they need to make more and more communication.

Communication is important

Communication between the two is very important. As discussed above, the design-dev meeting can reduce a lot of misunderstandings, so will conversations. It is important for both of them to talk to each other, collaborate, give each other ideas during the early phases of the project. Both of them have different roles and obviously very different perspectives. Learn more about the significance of communication between developers and designers here.

The Missing Link – Frontend Engineering

When the designers are done with the designing part, the development team comes in. This is where the ignoring of the details in the design components starts and the focus only shifts to the ‘functionality’ part. And that’s when the websites created start looking completely off from the visual designs. The front end developers are a big help in this situation. They reduce the gap between the visual composition and the functional page. 

The front-end developers have a good experience in CSS, JS, and XHTML that help them in creating functional prototypes that are very close to the visual compositions. With the involvement of front-end developers, the development team can easily concentrate on the functionality part and the design team does not need to worry about the ignorance of their work.

Let’s look at what steps the front-end developers can take to bridge this gap between designers and developers: 

  • Review specifications: To deliver a product that meets the branding guidelines and does not disappoint later, the developers should review the specs and notes beforehand and suggest changes as soon as possible, because deviating from the approved design in the later stages can cost you a lot. For instance, atomic design methodology can be very handy.
  • Understand user interactions: The front end developers can involve themselves in research to make sure you empathize with the users. This process will help you gain a better understanding of why you need to collaborate with designers. 
  • Give feedbacks: The frontend developers can share their insights with the designers, based on their experiences in visual designing, prototyping, and wireframing. Your feedback and reviews on a regular basis matter a lot even if you do not have experience in these fields. And in case you suggest changes in design, it will help your project manager to effectively manage your client’s expectations. 
  • Ask questions: Ask relatable and good questions to remove the miscommunication norm in the workspace. This helps you avoid design requests at the last minute. You can also ask the designers for a quick informal review if you are confused on what to ask. 
  • Check-In Frequently: It is important to check in with the designers to help the developers become even more familiar with the project than they already are. Checking in frequently brings the team together and makes it easy for both the teams to approach each other and communicate effectively.

Conclusion

If both the teams are able to create a collaborative environment and give each other’s suggestions importance and try to have a better understanding of each other’s work, it becomes easy for them to work together and respect each other. The front end developers are a great help, always. Their suggestions and interest in design and development are heard more during the meetings!

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