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Website Redesign: 5 Ways to Bridge the Gap Between Designers & Developers

Website Redesign: 5 Ways to Bridge the Gap Between Designers & Developers Blog Feature

Melissa Smith

Web Team Manager / Sr. Front-end Developer, 8+ Years of Web Development Expertise, 2x Recipient of IMPACT's Helpfulness Core Value Award

July 21st, 2016 min read

People always talk about the communication gap between marketers and designers, but have you ever worked for a company where there was very little communication between the design team and the development team?

It’s not that uncommon to see a divide between designers and developers who are either separated by a wall or by floors.

This can create tension where both sides are constantly angry with the other. Designers may feel that developers don’t follow what they designed while the developers think designers don’t understand that some things just can’t be implemented.

Not only can this disconnect create tension, but it can cause unnecessary feedback loops between designers, developers, and even decision makers during a website redesign.

It can also lead to a longer QA time (or even delayed QA time) because the developer didn’t know what the designer was imagining for a certain section, and there were no notes for the developer to follow.

At IMPACT, we make sure that our creative team (designers and developers) work together through all the steps of building a website, from brainstorming meetings to final QA right before a site launch.

This ensures that things don’t fall through the cracks during a website redesign and that everyone is on the same page with how the final product should look and function.

Here are 5 ways to bridge the gap between designers and developers and ensure a smoother website redesign.

1. Get Everyone Involved Early-on

When developers are not involved in the very early design stages, it can cause major problems.

It can lead to designs that are impossible to build and cause endless back and forth between the designer and developer as they struggle to fix problems and days can be wasted on revisions and iterations.

Solve the problem by getting the developer involved right from the start. Don’t pull them in at the end when you need them to start doing what they do best, coding.

This early alignment will help the designer and even your project manager understand what is feasible to build within the scope of your project and what is and isn’t possible, as far as features.  

Having the developer’s insight into how things will translate, might lead to the evolution of a different design that will bring even more value to the table.

2. Make the Hand-Off Easy


The hand-off from design to development is crucial.

While designing, think about how the section will work/look on devices of all sizes and shapes.  it is unclear of what your vision may be for the different device, your designer should be able to provide your developer with a multiple designs

It is important that the design files stay organized. Your designers should be able to provide your  developers with a clean, well-organized design file that has every single layer labeled, grouped layers based on sections.  They should cut the assets themselves and name them appropriately to ensure that what goes into the finished product is exactly what was planned.

Yeah, I know this isn’t fun but this work in the beginning will free up your developer and allow them to focus more on building better features in the long-run.

Designers and PMs should also make sure their designs are consistent, in font sizes, font, colors, and spacing.

Style guides can help maintain brand consistency and then will help your developer while they set up their framework.

Once your team has completed the design needed, it is important to walk through them with your developer and leave notes.

It might seem redundant if the developer has been involved since the beginning, but this will insure crucial details aren’t missed during development.

3. Communicate Constantly

Don’t only talk to your developer when it’s time to hand off the designs. When you work together from the beginning, you will become a more powerful team, and ultimately create a better product.

If you’re unsure about how something will function, how a transition will work, or the flow of a user’s interaction consult with your development team. There are no stupid questions.

If you are on the other side as the developer, don’t be afraid to ask your designer a question on how they envisioned a feature working or a section looking on portable devices.

4. Increase Overlap of Knowledge

Designers need to be able to think like developers and developers needs to think like designers.

Don’t get me wrong; you shouldn’t be expecting designers to be able to code like developers, and developers to be able to design like designers, but having a base knowledge of each field will help dramatically when working together.

Designers should learn the basics of coding and what a developer actual goes through during a website redesign. Try one of these online courses for starters:

They should also learn the type of framework your company uses, and how their internal process works on getting a site built.

Developer should learn how graphics are used, go to design events to gain perspective, and pay close attention to the details of their work. They should also take the time to refresh themselves on common terminology that may arise, like these 28 design terms.

5. Share Industry Trends

It is important that both designers and developers stay up-to-date with current design trends.

Designers can share interesting articles on design, or designs they find fascinating while developers can also stay up-to-date on methods of implementation; being current makes you very valuable.

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