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  • Writer's pictureNeuron

The Overlooked Secret to Great Product Design: Collaboration

Illustration of a man and woman linking arms and skipping

Designers and developers should communicate early and often to ensure maximum success for each project. Projects will be more successful (efficiency, cost-wise, usability) if there is frequent interaction between the two parties involved in creating a digital product.

In our work, we find collaboration is paramount for meeting timelines and budgets. We feel this sentiment is applicable even in non-consultancy situations. The engineering team can help to gauge the level of effort and hours required to implement a design decision.

In this article, we will share practical ways you and your team can start collaborating.

2 women working collaboratively on a laptop

First, let’s make a case for collaboration.

Working separately has its drawbacks

When you have a team with different skill sets, the goal of every project is to bring those skill sets together so that you can create one product. This means that most everybody on the team has specialized skills or knowledge in a particular subject matter. If you’re just a solo person working on a project in isolation, this leaves a lot of room for error. There may be no interaction between you, a developer, or engineering team.

There’s a lot of chance for going over budget, over time, and it may result in a product that is sub-par. There may be a lot of back and forth that could be avoided. The specialized skill set shouldn’t work in a silo. In fact, you collaborate so that you can exchange ideas, align and inspire each other. One designer can inspire an engineer with a new idea, or an engineer could say something that could potentially transform the project in a good way. There’s that chance of cross-pollination of ideas and processes. Each piece can inform the next piece.

Working together increases knowledge & motivation

When you work with other people on your team, you start developing empathy for what they do. If you’re a designer, you start thinking about ‘How long would this take in development,’ and you take that into consideration. Oftentimes, you may not know that information because you’re not a part of that team. You start growing your capacity in knowledge with an understanding of what people on your team contribute. Plus, working together increases motivation. People feel tied to each other’s success and will purposely work to align values. In short, you feel more tied to the mission of the project when you have empathy for your teammates.

And here’s why designers and developers should communicate early and often.

Efficiency will increase

Efficiency is how work or tasks get completed in a single day by an employee, department or team. The question becomes ‘When all of us are working together, just how efficient are we?’ Efficiency determines how quickly we’re able to get things done, how we can avoid errors and if we drop the ball, how quickly we can pick back up. This includes deadlines — making sure we complete tasks, meetings and the entire project on time.

Costs will plateau, go down or up

Collaborating early and often also affects costs. During a project, costs will either remain the same, go down, or go up. Efficiency ties into this — if you take too long to hand off your piece of the project, it can derail the project. Or, if you underestimate the amount of time a task takes, you’re spending four hours on a task that was only budgeted for two hours. Costs shoot up, and we go over budget. When you have a deep understanding of how long things take, you can develop processes to monitor it.

Better Result

If you’re collaborating early and often, you develop empathy for the user from multiple different perspectives. If the designer who decides the aesthetic, and the developer designs the functions, we’re creating together in a way that allows for the user experience to reach excellence. Each of us bring perspectives that turn blindspots into clear-sighted opportunities for growth. Now, when we exchange ideas we’re implementing ways this product can be used.

Learn more about how our team works at Neuron here.

Work alongside a product design agency that values collaboration to provide your users with the best possible experience - contact Neuron today to get started.


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