True Agency Collaboration Requires More Than Teamwork

 
Combining Two Different Superpowers
 
August 2nd, 2019

Improving Design And Development Outcomes By Aligning Goals

person holding pencil near laptop computer

Alliances between designers and developers deliver innovative solutions, which ultimately increases both the agency and client success. That is typically true for most agencies.  

In our offices, true collaboration is more than teamwork. It is an organizational structure that allows knowledge and insight to be shared freely to increase performance, productivity, and pride in our deliverables.   

Combining Two Different Superpowers: Design & Development

The primary responsibilities of designers and developers differ greatly in that a designer must prioritize the user experience, while a developer must prioritize system robustness. It is often easy to think of the work that these two groups do as separate and to break up the efforts into independent phases and efforts.

If we truly examine the value each of these skills brings to a project, however, it becomes clear that fostering collaboration between them and creating an environment where each can build upon the others’ strengths can be powerful:

  • The design group includes everyone from UI and UX designers to graphic designers; these important positions drive the creation of a compelling, meaningful user experience of the project we are charged with creating.

  • Developers, whether they are on the front-end, graphic, web, mobile, or digital product, create the functionality and infrastructure that allows the design to operate across various platforms by using the appropriate programming language or framework, like Drupal, that delivers a stable, working user experience.

Nearly every project our agency creates solutions for requires collaboration between designers and developers. So, how are we ensuring the best experience for our clients or their end users? By eliminating the disconnect between the two departments to promote creativity and innovation that exceeds expectations.

The Importance of Effective Designer & Developer Collaboration

Open communication between the two groups allows us to avoid project inefficiencies that increase costs, diminish our collective resources, and strain internal and external relationships.

Fostering a collaborative work environment allows each team member to understand the overall project scope and strategically plan for its success.

By effectively collaborating, our teams:

  • Explore each other’s skillset thoroughly to provide the best client solution

  • Understand both designer and developer challenges and processes, including how design elements will translate to web development applications

  • Create opportunities for superior solutions as different perspectives and experiences are brought to the table

  • Create expectational awareness for individuals and teams, so everyone is accountable for their deliverables

  • Prevent conflict and misunderstandings regarding each team’s organization

  • Build empathy to establish realistic timeframes and deadlines

  • Structure problem-solving approaches and streamlined revision requests that shorten review cycles and eliminate backtracking

  • Schedule consistent internal and external touchpoints to ensure we are on track

Minimizing the gap between designers and developers allows our projects to progress with an organized and comprehensive connection to our aligned goals.  

Creating a Better Client Experience By Fortifying Our Collaborative Processes

When projects present new challenges for both the design and development departments, each team’s approach and prioritized problem-solving roles differ, uniquely contributing to the solution and creating the diversity necessary to achieve critical success. 

In short, we never want to pitch a design that isn’t going to work once it reaches the developer’s desk. Backtracking can be detrimental to our internal team’s cohesion and our client’s trust.

While we may begin with discovery, our goals are aligned through our dedicated processes that allow our clients to reap the benefits of our internal, collaborative structure.  

When we know, as a team, what we’re up against, whether it is a previous application that didn’t work or overall budget constraints, we can design and develop innovative solutions with those parameters at the forefront of our approach.

And encouraging our designers and developers to collaborate early and often means we are brainstorming together. We are harmonizing in strategy sessions. We are reshaping the line between creative style and superior functionality.

More importantly, we are accomplishing these achievements together, delivering a complete sense of accomplishment in all corners of our offices, and creating an appreciation for the work that each person does each day. That is true collaboration.

Our Driving Collaborative Focus: Inclusivity, Diversity & Respect

At Stauffer, we believe in more than collaboration. 

We believe in inclusivity, diversity, and respect.

We believe that our teams should learn more about the skills, priorities, and languages each uses in their day-to-day lives — both personal and professional — to achieve success.

That can mean learning the language of how Drupal works, so we are not recreating the proverbial wheel each time we strategize to meet a new project’s goals. Should designers learn to code? Not necessarily. But they should understand how coding works, so they can design effectively on the front end — again, diminishing the need for backtracking and revisions.

When we respect each person’s narrative and how s/he processes information, we can collaborate in a more meaningful way. When we learn to be better collaborators, we can provide the best possible solutions for our clients.

This means no one in our offices should be afraid to ask a question or to speak up when something seems off, for fear of how the team will respond. Great ideas should never go undiscovered because they live in another team member’s head.

Likewise, software implementations, label and file naming/sharing protocols, and updated communication platforms that increase productivity and allow collaboration to occur in real time also decrease the design and development gap with each new project. We’re open to what works within our walls, and true collaboration allows us to curate our internal procedures to benefit both our staff and our clients.

Successful collaboration does not happen overnight, but it does build trust, increase productivity, and provide a proactive approach to ensuring each team operates in a supportive environment. If you would like to see our collaborative process in action, contact us today and learn more about joining forces with our solution-focused team.

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

About the writer.

 
stauffer
Lindsey Hockman
Marketing