Collaborating on design projects is no mean feat. Stakeholders can bring opposing viewpoints, varying deadlines and multiple revisions. Moreover, if the design team itself, consisting of designers, developers, UX researchers and coders, isn’t on the same page, creating an efficient workflow becomes impossible. The result is that the design process can become overly complex, costs can escalate, and the end-result isn’t as good as it should be.
What is Design Collaboration
To create digital products, many team members are required, and each of them brings their own skills and expertise. Design teams consist of product managers, UX designers, visual designers, developers and more. And, the more people and roles involved, the more expertise and, you guessed it, complexity. This is where design collaboration comes into play. It is the process of empowering each expert with the mindset, techniques and tools to build a better product more quickly.
Instead of two people working together on the same task with the same goal in mind, design collaboration involves more people with different skills and much bigger goals. Design collaboration is a multi-step process that aims to bring a design idea to life.
Why Design Collaboration is Important
While you can create an app without collaboration, chances are it won’t be anywhere as good as it could be. Design collaboration is what takes a product from being good to great. Apps often aren’t just simple tools; after all, they are multi-platform experiences that have complex internal systems. To deliver these kinds of apps, companies need to leverage expertise across the business including strategy, design and development. And, within each of these areas, there are people with their own skills, strengths and, also, weaknesses.
By putting many different minds together, design teams are able to combine their specialised areas of expertise to solve customer-focused problems. This means that, instead of looking at the problem from one angle, the team as a whole can consider new viewpoints and possibilities. And as well as opening up new opportunities, collaborating can help stop projects from heading in the wrong direction. After all, technical limitations are just as important to be aware of as technical capabilities.
Ways to Improve the Collaboration Process
As we’ve touched on, the design process is all about the balance between creativity and collaboration. It’s vital to give each area expert the platform to put forward their ideas, but it needs to be done in an efficient way. To be able to ensure the team are all on the same page, there are several steps that can improve collaboration:
1. Make a Clear Plan
An action plan helps everyone in the design team know the end goal and how they plan to achieve it. The plan should lay out the intended roadmap for success, and it should be well-detailed. Details such as the scope of the project, the number of stages and related budget, and all due dates should be clearly laid out.
2. Choose the Right Tools
Every tool that is used should help to improve efficiency, not create more problems. This may include ensuring web designers have software that includes SEO tools, using video conferencing apps to ensure regular communication, or using project management tools to streamline the process. By using the right tools, design teams can become more efficient, and they’ll be happier as a result.
3. Give Regular Updates
There are often many interdependencies when it comes to design projects, and that makes it critical for your team to be able to communicate effectively and regularly share updates. This may be in the form of daily stand-up meetings which enable teams to quickly share their priorities at the beginning of each day’s work. What’s more, by tracking progress, you are much more likely to be able to make better-informed decisions and stay on schedule without compromising on quality.
4. Develop Version Control
During the process of creating an app, the design team will create a huge number of folders files. Losing track of them can lead to costly errors. To ensure that everyone has access to the most recent version of any individual file or piece of work, version control is vital. Version control guidelines can help team members know where to save files, what naming conventions to follow and what to do when final versions are unloaded.
5. Use the Same Language
Terminology is vital when it comes to effective communication. When many area experts come together, they will naturally bring their own vocabulary. Technical language may not be understood by the whole team. To avoid this being an issue, key project-related terms should be clearly explained. By using a universally-understood language, you can avoid things being lost in translation.
6. Encourage Feedback
Feedback is vital when it comes to a successful design project. You need to find a way to facilitate regular reviews and feedback rounds. This refers to user feedback, stakeholder feedback, and, indeed, design team feedback. Try to find a balance that enables team members to move forward with their work, but also check in with others. Outline the review and feedback approach and which tools will be used early on to avoid any confusion.
Could Your Design Team Collaborate More Effectively?
App design is an art form that requires creativity and collaboration from a number of experts. The better you enable those area experts to collaborate with each other, the more power you give them to succeed in their roles. This starts by promoting a healthy team culture, building trust within the team and enabling constant communication.
Design collaboration shouldn’t be difficult as long as you do it right and set out the groundwork. This means improving the collaboration workflow, facilitating communication and providing the right tools. Get the basics right, and you’ll see a huge improvement in both your collaboration efforts and your solutions.
In summary, here are some simple ways that you can improve the design collaboration process:
- Create an action plan – set out the scope of the project clearly for the team.
- Provide the right tools – use tools that are intuitive to use and improve efficiency
- Communicate frequently – regular meetings and updates keep everyone on track
- Exercise version control – ensure everyone has access to the most up-to-date files
- Use common language – explain project terms so everyone is on the same page
- Encourage feedback – ensure everyone feels able to give their honest opinion