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Designer-Developer Synergy: The Importance of Early Engagement

Designer-Developer Synergy: The Importance of Early Engagement

Software development is a complex process requiring the collaboration of various experts. Achieving success hinges on defining precise requirements, teamwork, and, most importantly, early engagement of specialists. 

Early engagement is more than a procedural step; it's a strategic decision that can break the outcome. It allows designer and development teams to align their visions for the project, predict potential challenges, and contribute to a more efficient use of resources.

But how does early designer-developer involvement advance development, enhance problem-solving, and lead to more efficient solutions? Let's delve further to explore.


  • The importance of early engagement
  • Benefits of designer-developer cooperation
  • Common hurdles and methods for prevention
  • The key to an ideal cooperation
  • Outstanding solutions with Rolique

The importance of early engagement

Clients tend to approach software development companies with a business concept: a vision and comprehension of the market challenges they aim to solve. Their main request is to transform ideas into technical solutions. And this is where service companies provide value, the strength of which are experienced specialists who have successfully handled numerous comparable projects. They can offer a best-fit solution based on the client's needs.  

The initiation stage of software development is the discovery phase, where specialists define the requirements to serve as the foundation for future design. However, believing there is no need to involve developers at this stage is a big mistake. The separate work of design and development teams increases the risk of potential failures. Furthermore, for the client, choosing not to engage specialists early to cut costs or due to deadlines can threaten to double or even triple overpay. 

Early involvement of software developers is crucial. Front-end engineers can review designers' solutions and suggest what can be improved. For instance, some design elements may be too heavy or inflexible, unnecessarily complicating the implementation, or specific features (like a set of buttons, tooltips, and standardized inputs) can be implemented with a third party, reducing the final cost of development. It is also essential to consider scalability and implementation suggestions from the back-end developers. For example, if users need to log in using a phone number, it should be ensured that the system can handle it properly across all carriers within desired countries.

The ready-to-use designs are often too far-stretched and impossible to implement. There can be many reasons for this, from technical limitations to unjustified project costs. As a result, this will lead to reputational losses on the contractors' side and financial losses on the client's side. 

At the same time, involving developers early will help identify the necessary constraints and ensure a realistic project implementation roadmap. In cases where compromise solutions must be found, developers can be a technical guide for designers. They can suggest what trade-offs can be made to meet technical capabilities, design vision, and business requirements without compromising user experience and functionality.

Thus, the joint work of designers and developers is crucial to meet the client's needs and solve the business task effectively.

Benefits of designer-developer cooperation

Developers and designers are narrow specialists in their field of responsibility. However, software development is a complex task, so it is only possible to plan the implementation optimally by knowing the nuances of another area. At the same time, the synergy of the designer-developer work can strengthen their strengths and compensate for weaknesses by highlighting technical limitations of implementation and finding compromises.

We acknowledged the advantages of this working approach during our collaboration on the Holberg EEG project with the design agency The Gradient. We needed to display a real-time head projection diagram while the patient was directly connected to a brain-scanning device. The design team turned to us for advice on whether such a solution was technically possible. Our team conducted a proof-of-concept to see what options were available. Then, based on the results, designers created UX/UI, and we developed a required solution. This cooperation allowed us to complete the project faster and with maximum quality, providing the customer with room for maintenance and expansion.

Collaboration allows teams to complement each other. In isolation, each team will produce isolated results. The client will expect version A, the designer will create A1, and the developer will create A2. Without communication, it is impossible to get a matched solution; in the end, the client won't get the expected result. On the contrary, joint work allows designer and development teams to single out the requirements and create best-fit software.

An example can be our other project, the UK's startup Vantage. We needed to create software for agencies that install physical advertising, namely, billboards, banners, etc. A designer, developer, and business analyst were involved starting from the discovery phase. The customer had many ideas, so we needed to transform them into relevant tasks. Thanks to the joint teamwork, we managed to clear the requirements and implement a project that best met the client's expectations.

The designer's task is to propose their vision. At the same time, the developer has to give a technical assessment of whether this idea can be implemented within the technical capabilities, time, and budget. 

For instance, one of our tasks on our other project Intermate, was to develop a comprehensive reporting system. The designer had to consider the most optimal data representation. During a joint discussion, the developers suggested which solution was better to use. This consultation significantly reduced the development time, as we immediately worked on a solution that best fit the final product.

Designers can significantly help in the design review stage to check whether the implementation is consistent with the layout. For example, developers may not always notice the font size hierarchy, color saturation, button size, etc. That's where designers can help developers correct inaccuracies and create a design-consistent product that will be convenient for end users. 

Our team faced a similar hurdle while working with an Israeli cybersecurity product. We developed our project in the context of an existing one with a specific visual solution. We needed to fit our solution organically and stick with the existing approach. Our designer created new elements consistent with the existing ones, and we followed similar practices in the development as previous developers did. In close collaboration with the designer, we managed to deal with this task and created a seamless solution. 

Common hurdles and methods for prevention

The main bottleneck of any collaboration is the lack of communication. This can be a situation where teams do not communicate at all, or vice versa, a cross-communication without the joint involvement of the parties.

Such circles of discussion lead to discouragement and non-completed "pending" tasks and, therefore, delay the product's final release. There are often unrealistic expectations from each party. As a result, the deadline passed, the customer faced financial losses, and the implementation teams damaged their reputation.

On the other hand, when communication is transparent, the result is of a higher quality. We had such a process on our project, OysterHR. A manager from the client side was a tech-savvy specialist, so it was easy to communicate. We could ask questions and quickly receive feedback from the client's side, opening up opportunities for the creative implementation of ideas.

Documentation must be prepared for any project, namely a historical chronology of the work's progress. It is essential as it empowers the team to oversee progress, elucidate requirements, and provide a clear understanding of the client's expectations.

Of course, describing all the requirements is challenging because the documentation will be enormous and complex to remember. So, both the developers' and designers' teams must communicate to clarify expectations and offer solutions. Such a process will give the best results and allow the implementation of the highest-quality results.

The developer's crucial skill lies in extracting all the non-obvious technical requirements from the designer. When developers accept the design without asking questions, they end up with poorer implementation, worse user experience, and more bugs. It directly results from a lack of domain knowledge that should have been gathered from the designer.

For example, when working with The Gradient on a neurological EEG diagnosing tool, we meticulously examined their design for comprehending every aspect of functionality, user flow, possible edge cases, and desired UX. It allowed us to clarify all the possible combinations and use cases, which is vital in developing such complex healthcare software. 

This refinement of requirements is probably the best product of the collaboration between a designer and a developer. It allows developers to understand the task and seamlessly convert creative ideas into software.

The key to an ideal cooperation

Effective communication is the key to seamless cooperation between designers and developers. Initially, the main bullet points must be outlined. Subsequently, the designer focuses on creating the layout. Following development, the draft undergoes testing, during which QA may identify inaccuracies or suggest additional changes. Once all necessary adjustments are incorporated, the finalized product is handed over to the product manager. Throughout all these stages, maintaining clear communication is crucial to ensure that every team member is well-informed about the ongoing processes.

For example, we communicated a lot when working with The Gradient. We had a weekly call to discuss all changes made during the week. In the initial phases of development, they conducted extensive research on user experience and the platform's operational requirements with our active collaboration. We engaged in thorough discussions covering concerns, ideas, and development possibilities, including aspects related to the server side. Sometimes, we had unscheduled calls when urgent issues were discovered.

It's always best when all team members are in touch and working closely together. No one does their tasks separately; the team works together. And that is when the process will be fast, efficient, and creative, ultimately bringing the best result.

Outstanding Solutions with Rolique

Rolique has worked in the IT market since 2014. During this time, we have released more than 110 projects for 50+ customers worldwide. 

We have a positive, proven expertise in software development. Here, you can check feedback from our partners who are satisfied with the high-quality products we have created.

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