Designers and developers have always had differences of opinion. Even though both team members have important roles to play in creating effective applications, the differences between their two roles means they are not always able to get on. Designers may feel that their designs are being changed from how they were originally meant to be and developers may feel that designers are being overly picky.
As with many other types of conflict, the differences between designers and developers probably comes down to the fact that they do not fully understand the each other’s role.
The question of why designers and developers cannot get along has been asked many times over the years and in most cases leads to both sides still feeling angry and misunderstood rather than the issues being resolved.
In order for collaboration to be successful between the two parties, the obstacle of believing that designers and developers have competing interests needs to be removed. Tension usually occurs because each party believes that their role is more important than the other’s. If this belief is not overcome it can lead to the success of the project being limited if team morale is low.
The principles of good design are often the same as those needed for good development. Developers will need to be creative in certain areas of their work, and designers will need to consider functionality. If each party can be made to see these similarities then it may be a start to overcoming any problem between them.
A main cause of the difficulties between designers and developers is that each party has not been taught to respect the other discipline and the work and processes that are involved with it.
Designers may have the misconception that developers are able to code anything and can implement any design that is created by the designer. While it may be possible for the developer to implement these designs, the designer needs to give consideration to the developer’s budget, timeline and current workload.
It has traditionally been believed by developers that designers only affect how the product looks. However, it is now more common that designers are involved in the entire development process and this is considered best practice. The thinking that designers just improve the look of a product and developers just make things exist needs to change.
If a product is made using the practice of developers and designers working separately then although it may function in the way it is supposed to, it is more likely to fail.
If designers make an effort to involve developers in the design process then this will show them that their opinions are valued. The company will suffer from any dispute between designers and developers so this should be avoided. This situation can be helped by applying the principles of Photoshop Etiquette.
Designers can save their teammates time by looking at the interactivity of their product and they should be proactive so that others are not waiting around for them. This will involve not being afraid to ask for help from developers if needed. Regular feedback is also important.
If designers gain a basic knowledge of code then this can help in the design process and will give them a better understanding of the role of the developer which may build a better relationship.
Everything will go smoothly if developers are involved in the whole process from concept to realization. They should get involved by showing an interest in what colleagues are working on and offering their expertise where needed.
Developers can become even more valuable to a project if they can share their experience with all members of the team and help them to understand some of the high-level concepts that are involved in the project.
Any constraints in terms of development such as time or budget should be made known to the team as soon as possible at the beginning of the project. This will allow them to make appropriate decisions throughout the project.
If developers acquire a basic understanding of concepts such as standards, rules and design theories, it will help them to choose a design that works for the project and is usable.
As previously mentioned, one of the main reasons for the problems that occur between designers and developers is that each party does not fully understand the role of the other. If time is spent learning more about the importance of each role then this may help to resolve any problems.
If designers can learn about the work of developers and viceversa then the team can be more effective. The ability to ask questions if something is not understood is a valuable learning tool and creating an environment where this is welcomed can lead to increased productivity.
The issue may be one of team management rather than being a specific problem between designers and developers and it is this issue that a business owner would need to overcome.
A single person could be hired with both design and development experience. This person would be able to design the product while knowing the possibilities and limits while ensuring that the experience is not compromised by bad development decisions. Both design and development should be viewed as part of the same skill set rather than separate disciplines.
If this is not possible then designers and developers should collaborate on the same project. This will empower both parties, put an end to any disputes and both groups may learn something new.
Group separation should be reduced wherever possible. Social psychology has some good examples of ways to achieve this. Having a team building event with teams made of people who don’t usually work together can encourage collaboration. Sharing office space can also be effective.
If there are people on the team that still cannot collaborate then it means that they are not bringing anything positive to the team and they should be removed.
Companies will be more successful and employees will find their jobs more enjoyable if job titles are put to one side and collaboration is encouraged.