Seven Peaks Insights

Why Your Designers and Developers Should Collaborate With Clients

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When you’re in the business of developing and designing digital products, you often have to work with companies from many different industries, with varying ideas, business goals, and unique ways of working. At Morphosis, the design consultant part of Seven Peaks, our work has ranged from improving user experiences for online banking apps, to product design for educational apps.

Our cross-functional teams have to adapt to each client’s scope and needs. Sometimes we help a company solidify and verify an idea for a product, while other times, we help improve the UI design (or user interface) of an existing product with a well-established user base. Collaborative product development processes and tools help answer these challenging and changing demands. 

Product development processes that fit every way of work

Every team has their internal standards and work processes. However, it’s important to adjust to the parameters of your client’s needs, the scope of work, and the end goal.

As a team lead, ensure that each team member fully understands:

  • Your client’s  business objectives, for example, how the product will fit into a company’s operations, or how this product will ultimately increase revenue. 
  • The product. That includes product goals, plans, and target users.
  • Best practices and market trends. Know your product’s competitors and know your target customers and users.
  • Any future plans for scaling or further development after the designs or product has been handed over.
  • The effort required to complete the work.
  • Any technological limitations that will impact the UX / UI design.

The way the client and your team work. This includes everyone's roles and responsibilities, as well as the most effective tools and methodologies.

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Better communication means better outcomes

Without the right platform for collaboration and communication, it can be challenging to align all stakeholders and team members on high-level goals. And without proper alignment, you compromise the quality of the final digital product. 

If teams fail to communicate, the risk is that your design team creates a UI that is too complex to be developed, or a developer builds something that is inconsistent with the rest of the digital product’s branding.

Establish iterative dialogue between your UX designers and developers

Establishing and maintaining an open feedback loop in your working files limits any confusion or misalignment at handover – and allows developers to develop smoothly and efficiently. Developers should be encouraged to comment and provide feedback on early versions of designs. 

Likewise, when setting the design system and templates, UX designers need to take initiative to talk to developers. Before starting on any design, work together to establish all use cases and determine the practical limits of what can be built. Designers should also leave annotations where things might not be clear to developers, so that the UI design can be easily understood. 

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Every step matters in product development and design

Each member of your team needs to consider each of these requirements at every step of the process – even when naming and structuring design files.

A large product may require complex file structuring, while a smaller application will be simpler to organize. Whether you are helping to guide product ideation or making changes to a digital product’s old UI design will change the file setup. And, if you’re creating a design system, this will also impact how you name and arrange any other design files.

As with every stage of product development or design, the file structuring in a UX design process helps clear communication with developers and the client, which ensures seamless handover. 

Cross-functional collaboration with Figma

An understated feature of Figma is its role as a powerful communication tool. Product Owners, designers, developers, and your client’s stakeholders can provide feedback and collaborate from the very start all the way through to handover. 

As a versatile platform, Figma can be used to run spring retrospectives, document different versions, and to review and add use cases. Comments and issues raised by each person to be recorded and responded to effectively. And, by building design systems, you can ensure that product development stays consistent and aligned with the branding and overall direction.

Getting many different people in various roles to use a ‘design tool’ may seem complicated, especially when you’re working on larger projects with non-designers. However, you only need to focus on helping each team member learn the tools they need for their specific tasks or roles. Help developers get familiar with using Dev Mode, and guide your clients through the commenting process. 

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Build better digital products together

A multi-functional platform like Figma can help designers, developers, and key stakeholders align and collaborate more effectively. Experienced design teams combine these tools with processes that match the requirements of each company, their high-level business goals, and their ideas for what they want to achieve with their digital products – driving high-quality user experiences.