You’ve got a dev team and you’ve got your design team. You need them to work together, but sometimes it seems like trying to mix oil and water – it just won’t work. The designers complain that the developers just make a mess of their designs, while the devs complain that the designers haven’t got a single clue about how to actually put together a design that will work in whatever framework they’re using. Each group thinks the other just isn’t listening.
In reality, they’re talking past each other. You have just one problem, with all these symptoms: the two groups don’t know how to communicate to each other.
The solution sounds simple: help them communicate.
You know it’s not that easy. Luckily for you, this is the kind of industry where there’s, well, “an app for that”. Here’s seven that might just help you sort out those communication problems, starting with these tools your teams can use for mocking up a design – collaboratively.
Billed as a tool that lets anyone design a great mobile app, this will let your designers and develops work together on a design that has input from both sides. It doesn’t require any special skills from one side or the other, and both of them can bring their expertise to bear.
It’s a great idea to get your designers and devs using something like this together – get them in a face-to-face meeting and get them working together. Mocking something up on Balsamiq is a quick process, so it might be best just for generating ideas which they can later refine on their own, but it will avoid your designers sitting down and designing something that the devs just can’t implement.
Balsamiq itself also has a great library of components, and it’s available for Mac and Windows, as well as having a cloud-based service – so they can’t even argue about what software to use!
The same sort of thing applies here, with the bonus that it’s completely cloud enabled and has a free trial which you can get started with right away. That gives your team a bit of leeway to explore and find something that works for all the individuals within the team, as well.
And if you’re wondering, they boast customers like Paypal, Microsoft and Sony. The big players rely on UXPin as much as the small players.
If the other two options don’t appeal, this one just might. Moqups is a bit more polished than the other two on the surface, which might make the designers a bit happier. It allows you to dive deep into the design process, in a way which is still intuitive and easy for the devs to follow.
This might not be the best app for communicating in detail amongst the team, but it’s an excellent way to brainstorm and organize ideas. You can get an account for free, too. Check out this example board for just one way you could use Trello to organize your team’s work.
Trello not for you? How about Asana? Like Trello, you can try it out for free, and it has a ton of features to allow your teams to get each other’s thoughts, assign responsibilities and keep track of inspiration. It’s hugely customizable, and you can even use it to swap files, get updates and make a daily to-do list.
Basecamp combines everything you need for a project into one space – to-do lists, schedules, team chats, documents… They have a lot of happy customers who have found that their software really gets things going – it doesn’t just make the process easier, it streamlines it every step of the way.
This is a relative newcomer to the scene, but you might have been hearing good things already. It’s great for project management, with the ability to tag people to remind them to take on certain tasks and all sorts of features to make managing a big project effortless.
You’ve probably thought about it already, but I wanted to put in a word for Slack right now. It might not have all the bells and whistles of Asana or Basecamp, but it does provide a great chat interface which now includes the ability to thread conversations. You can use it to set reminders, private message between two different users, or just coordinate a conversation into a single channel. It’s great for keeping a searchable archive of all your messages – perfect for those moments when someone claims something wasn’t put in writing…
That’s the software, but there’s got to be a trick to it, right? You can throw software at your team as much as you like, but if they’re not on board, they won’t use it the way you intended. Here’s the big secret: make them work together from day one.
Don’t get a group of designers together and just let them loose on Balsamiq or UXPin, and wait to bring the devs in later. Get them working together right out of the door when you start a new project. Even better, assemble a whole new team who haven’t worked together before, and don’t have any old hangups or resentments to get in the way. Don’t let them think of themselves as the devs on one side versus the designers on the other – they need to work as a team, so make sure they act like one. And despite all the stuff about apps and software, the best way to start is to get them sat down facing each other, with some paper and pens, maybe a whiteboard, and encourage them to talk.
All the rest follows naturally when you have the right tools!
Do you have any other tricks up your sleeve to make designers and developers work well together? Let us know in the comments!