To most, designers and developers belong to completely separate domains, the polar opposites of the software world. Yin and yangs, who only interact during company all hand meetings, or happy hours. However, at Soluto, we discovered that this doesn’t have to be the case. Close collaborations between designers and developers can produce beautiful things, or at the very least, save everybody some valuable time. And so we’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, we’ll tell you how we became the developer-designer super team.
Go Agile or go home
It all started when we were tasked with creating a new product — specifically, a completely new app built from the ground up. Our goal was to take it from concept to completion in the shortest possible amount of time. After weighing our options, we decided to leverage Soluto’s Agile methods and take the designer-developer relationship to the next level.
Some of you already know what Agile means. You can skip this paragraph. For the rest — Agile methodologies are a set of rules that emphasize collaboration, quick product evolution and fast delivery. All development teams in Soluto are Agile, composed of a mix of developers, product managers, and UI/UX writers.
So how do we make the most of Agile methods in a mixed team?
Traditionally, a designer begins sketching, wireframing, and mockupping independently. Once the designer’s work is concluded, it would flow down the workstream, submitted for production. We discarded that tradition in favor of a more joint effort. We decided to work closely together throughout the project, constantly sharing knowledge and feedback. As a result, we have improved our efficiency dramatically.
We began our collaboration as early as possible, at the conceptual stages. These early stages are often when the Agile model truly shines, and when the most time is saved. This mode of work allows for immediate feedback and correct prioritization. We were able to understand what’s possible and what types of designs are technologically feasible. Most of all, we were able to work around design choices that would restrict us in the future, or require revisions, saving more valuable time that would be lost on feedback loops.
Going into the wireframe phase, our design was already split into development components. With these components separated, we were able to rapidly produce a working prototype, diagnose practical problems, respond, and make major changes to the design, preventing high development costs down the line.
This was also the time to divide components into variants. For example, we realized several buttons didn’t have to be separate elements. Instead, they can all live within one component with different states. Had we not been Agile, these buttons might have been developed separately and a lot of recurring design decisions would have been repeated through the code. This can become an issue at later stages. For example — if we had to make sweeping design changes throughout the app, like a color change, we would have to repeat them multiple times, on all of the buttons separately.
After the wireframes are finalized, the developers can go straight to work. No sending designs back, no days lost on complete redesigns of features, no time lost on going back to the drawing board. The drawing board was already back in storage.
A game of compromise
This type of working relationship often facilitates discussion of developmental limitations and compromise. This means features do not have to be cut, but change to fit the time frame and technological limitations. Our creative solutions allowed us to add more features quickly and increase productivity.
But increased productivity wasn’t the only upside of this relationship. Throughout the process, we were constantly sharing insight and knowledge specific to our professional fields. By sharing knowledge and pointing out edge cases, design prototypes can be taken to the next level, push the boundaries of what’s possible, and deliver a much more refined and innovative product.
That sounds easy!
Well, it’s not. Not always. This type of process requires putting ego aside in favor of a more open and collaborative working relationship. It also requires a lot of honest feedback, and the ability to process that feedback. That’s more difficult to pull off than it sounds, but the rewards are worth it.
Ultimately, we were able to turn an idea into a live product quickly and efficiently, adopting agile methods. Today, we’re taking our lessons to other teams in Soluto, helping them save time and effort while delivering better and better products.
Who are we?
Senior full-stack developer with vast experience in building new products from scratch.
Previously Co-Founder and CTO at Kavanu, an all-in-one management platform for small businesses. Currently working on Soluto’s next big data personalization platform.
Product Designer with over six years of experience in designing for both small startups and global corporations. Studies front-end development in his free time while working at Soluto, and incorporates it into his daily role as a UI/UX Designer.