Developers ain’t slow

Roland Lösslein
3 min readJan 16, 2015

Developers often find themselves at the end of the production chain that already seems to be messed up even before their work has begun. Facing unrealistic deadlines, small budgets or missing specifications can cause frustration and helplessness. Here are a few thoughts that can help to improve your production workflow and meet the expectations of developers

1. Involve Developers early in the process

  • Excluding Developers from decisions that are made during the design thinking and making, can lead to concepts that are impossible to build or more likely not thought through. Developers can serve another perspective on things and may come up with ideas and solutions that make building stuff easier and more efficient.
  • Having somebody there, that can tell you what’s technologically possible and what’s not, can sharpen others sense of nowadays possibilities in digital products. Restricted through guidelines or technological capabilities you can find thousand of perfectly good looking dribbbles out there which most like won’t ever find their way into production.
  • Clients, Designers, Developers, Product Owners and Project Managers, they all have a different interpretation of the complexity and prioritisation of tasks in an project. That’s not a mischief, it’s the nature of the beast. Face it, involve everybody of the team early and on a regular basis and you’ll get a more realistic evaluation of time and budgets.
  • Developers are making design decision all the time. Designers rarely have the time think through every part of a website. This is why developers have to make decisions that affect the design anyways. Involving a developer in the early stages will allow them to fill in the blanks.
  • Involving developers early will lead to a greater sense of project ownership. Let developers speak, hear there voice and you’ll end up with a true creative workflow you’ve ever dreamt of.

2. Clear requirements

Writing a good briefing is important. How can a developer start on a project without understanding how it should work? Handing over undercooked project project specs will cause frustration and slows down the development process. If you follow my suggestions of point 1 it should be a pretty easy task to sit down together and define the final project specification before heading into production.

3. Missing Project Leads

Developers often find themselves in the role of the master mind of a project. Probably because they tend to dive deeper into things than anybody else before. Define somebody in the team who owns the product, who will keep the overview and is willing to answer and think of any questions raising.

4. Changing requirements

Constantly changing specs during production is probably one of the biggest game breakers for developers. Even an agile workflow needs a stable scope of work for every sprint. So don’t throw tasks into the production cycle that are not thought through or feel imperfect.

5. Context switching

Context switching can cause huge problems regarding efficiency.
Asking a developer to switch from Task A to Task B is pretty tough since the time that it takes to get into a new scope is pretty high.

7. Take responsive design serious

The majority of website designs are delivered desktop only. Responsive states are discussed in passing which is totaly fine for most of the cases. But as soon as components become more complex, have a lot of interactions and different states, just talking about the responsive version won’t work anymore. Try to find a way to communicate your visions and help you to think through responsive states. Team up with developers and think about it together and you probably don’t have to deliver final designs, sometimes wireframes do the job perfectly fine.

9. Missing breakdowns and style guides

Browsing through a huge PSD or Sketch file in order to collect used fonts and font sizes, colors and icons is simply a pain in the ass. Provide breakdown sheets that provide basic information about your design work. Furthermore it can serve as the template for a frontend styleguide to onboard upcoming team members quickly.

10. Regular meetings with the whole project team

Just do it. Meet up with all project memebers on a regular basis. It will keep the process transparent for everyone involved. Talk about the projects scope of work, the current timeline and about outstanding tasks for the next day or two. Discuss incoming requirements and different opinions anytime. But try to keep this as efficient as possible. 10–15 min standup meetings every day should be enough.

I was inspired to write about this after reading that excellent article



Roland Lösslein

I’m a Frontend Software Engineer currently leading Design Systems and Design Tooling at ResearchGate. Follow me: @weaintplastic