When your designs are not just your own

Part 2 — Tips for a good collaboration

Talking to people and setting the correct expectations can be crucial for any collaboration — whether it is with colleagues or clients. And even though talking to people is not an exact science, I’ve got the chance to learn a couple of best practices that make for a more comfortable and good collaboration, no matter the team set-up, 3 of which I am sharing in the hope that it will help other Designers (but not only) as well.

Maintain transparency

As Designers, work is always collaborative, either as part of a team and/or for a client. Be it other designers, developers, or stakeholders, it’s important to offer and ask for transparency on what everyone is doing. And when I say this, I don’t refer to micro-management techniques. I don’t want to know what my teammates are doing at all times, but it’s important to know they are working on a certain step or topic: be it research, competitive analysis, interviewing people, or even a simple screen. When everyone is aligned on what others are doing in an estimated timeframe, it offers everyone comfort to focus on their own roles and tasks.

This will offer everyone trust, minimize the risk of double work or permanently questioning what your next step should be or how you can help.

Document everything

New projects or collaborations can be overwhelming, with too much information and materials to go through in a small timeframe. There are new people you meet, each with their own individual roles and expertise, documents you need to go through, meetings to attend. Things can pile up quite quickly and when you add the time constraints, it can get even more confusing.

Having a single, consolidated source of information can help everyone involved, including new team members who might join the team at a later stage.

Apart from just creating a shared space with all the materials (which can be done quite fast and easy), I’ve learned it’s best practice to stick to it during the entire project. Where possible and if everyone is fine with it, make sure meetings where the teams are discussing different topics related to the design project are recorded and added on the space, as it’s going to allow you to focus more and contribute to the discussion instead of trying to keep up with writing down notes. It’s also going to help you reference it later, when you will forget some details. Instead of reaching out with unnecessary, already covered questions, it’s going to be easier to go through the dialogue again. It will also help people who join the project later, as they will be able to quickly get onboarded without losing valuable insights.

Keep responsibility intact

By the book, the diffusion of responsibility is a sociopsychological phenomenon where a person is less likely to take responsibility for action or when other bystanders or witnesses are present. In simpler terms and closer to the design world: people might only take responsibilities for design tasks or questions that are specifically assigned to them.

For Designers, the number of tools allowing us to work collaboratively is immense: from Slack to Figma, multiple people bring their ideas and questions in a shared space. Whether you have questions regarding the topic or problem you are solving, about the client or about the process in general, it’s best practice to address them to someone specifically, as much as possible. If you address a question in a group, people might not feel responsible to answer, given they will assume someone else is going to do it (especially if the question requires a more complex answer or when people are not 100% sure whether their response would be accurate). So in order to get the information you need, make sure you address your questions right and clear.

After all, sometimes the best answers are obtained when we know how to frame the question and who can help us with it.

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Raluca Maria Angelescu

Raluca Maria Angelescu

UX/UI Designer .Everyone deserves a better designed world! Starting with the morning coffee cup and all the way through digital interfaces.