So different yet so alike
Few groups can match the animosity that exists between web designers and web developers. This is further aggravated by the fact that they have to work together on a single project to produce literally two halves of a whole website.
The cause of this rift can be chalked down to simple differences in perspective. You see, web designers are focused on the visual aspect of the website which includes the typography, colors and the layout. They work toward making the website user-friendly and easy on the eyes. Web developers, on the other hand, are not focused on all that ‘frilly’ stuff. They are the ones that make sure the mark-ups and codes are perfect so that the web pages actually function as they should.
Arguments often begin when designers feel that developers have butchered something of their design, and when developers feel that a design has been made more for beauty rather than actual functionality (which can be pretty insulting to a designer).
The relationship between designers and developers has been compared to that between women and men – each viewing the same thing from a different perspective. The strength of this difference in perspective can be harnessed to make their relationship stronger and produce a better outcome, but it will take some work. So let’s get started on improving the relationship between designers and developers.
‘Talk to me’Just like any other relationship, communication clears up majority of misunderstandings. Designers and developers need to take time before starting a project to decide what the outcome should look like, which technology to use, and the scope of creative leeway given to the design team, if need be. This communication should continue throughout the development process to ensure that both teams are always on the same page every step of the way, and suggestions on improvement can be made as development progresses.
‘Seek to understand’
Anyone who has been a parent or a guardian of a child, for however long, gains a new appreciation for their own parents. Why? They would finally have understood something of what it took for their parents to bring them up.
Similarly, designers and developers should seek to understand as much as they can about how the other works. They should understand what goes into doing their part of the job in creating this website. This way, they will be more realistic in their demands when they have an appreciation of how difficult it can be to meet those expectations. So, have the designers learn some development concepts and have the developers learn some visual design concepts, and there shall be peace!
‘Write it all down’
When the designer hands over a project to the developer, there needs to be a clear list of all that has been done, and they should go through it to make sure everything is clear. There needs to be a clear listing of all the fonts used and where to get them, a list of all the colors and their names, as well as exact dimensions and annotations for all screen sizes. This will prevent conflicts where the developer is accused of butchering the designer’s work.
‘Let’s do it your way’
A great source of conflict in any relationship is the insistence on one’s way or the highway. This stubborn nature of being unwilling to compromise may be useful in some instances, but is generally terrible when you are working within a team.
Designers and developers are guilty of taking this hard stance, thereby aggravating their rift. It is important, therefore, to get them to a place where either one can compromise their position for the greater good. Both teams are working towards the same goal but with two different visions. So as part of their communication, these positions need to be discussed objectively. Consensus should then be reached on how best to proceed, which may even involve dropping one’s idea, and the party concerned should be mature enough to accept such a decision.
‘Stay with me’
The designer is often the first to commence the process, and is responsible for delivering the project to the developer. While the natural inclination would be to hurl it over the wall and forget all about the project, it is important for the designer to remain in contact with the developer until the process reaches its conclusion.
Building a website is no small task and there may be need for continuous dialogue about certain aspects of design, possible changes that need to be made, or clarifications required for progress to be made. These consultations can’t take place with one party being completely disconnected from the process.
Insist on proximity, pair individual developers and designers, and encourage these dialogues even when they get a little heated. And who knows - it may actually cause them to become better designers and developers at the end of the day, which is in everybody’s best interests.
‘Eyes on the prize’
It is a proven fact that when people are focused on a common goal there is less time for bickering and fighting among themselves. Take a group of siblings, for example. They could fight all day like cats and dogs, but when one of them is attacked by an outsider, they gang up to fight off the attacker.
Helping designers and developers work toward a common goal could be a great way of fostering teamwork. Help them see themselves as part of a greater whole where they play a vital, but specific, function that is not effective alone to keep the body functioning; they need to work with all the other aspects as well.
‘Golden Rule’It has been said, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ The wisdom of this aphorism applies doubly to the developer-designer dynamic. At the core, designers and developers are human beings with feelings that can be hurt, and this can be a major cause of conflict among them.
Therefore, emphasize the need to be kind in their critique of each other’s work and to focus on the work, and to not make it about the person. Equally, the one receiving criticism should take it graciously, and not personally, and aim to improve on their work.
At the end of the day, the battle between designers and developers is about being more humane and understanding with each other, and treating a fellow human as we would like to be treated. So now, why is it that we can’t all just get along?
The author is an SEO consultant and runs an SEO house called Ranking By SEO.