Shore with Blue SOptimizing UI/UX Delivery: A Developer’s Guide to Design Workflowsea


As a lead product designer, I lead a team responsible for crafting digital products that align with Jobswifi’s business objectives. Drawing from over a decade of experience, I’ve gained valuable insights into the collaboration dynamics between designers and developers. Establishing clear communication lines and understanding each other’s workflows are crucial for fostering collaboration and ensuring efficient product delivery. In this article, I aim to provide developers with insights into the product design process, fostering improved working relationships with designers based on my experiences at Toptal.

Ensure You Have All the Necessary Resources

Some designers might consider their role complete after delivering user interface (UI) source files to developers, but in reality, the designer-developer collaboration requires an ongoing and open communication workflow beyond the handover. Frequently, designers are surprised to find significant discrepancies between their initial UI submissions and the actual implementations. This often occurs when designers provide developers with incomplete, disorganized, or poorly documented assets. A strong and consistent communication channel can mitigate these discrepancies.

As a developer, what should you request from a designer? (Hint: A Figma file isn’t sufficient.) To perform your job effectively, you’ll need:

  1. Source File: Designers should consolidate all UI elements in a single file. This file must articulate the appearance and behaviour of each component under various conditions, clarifying UX considerations like hovers and interaction states. If feasible, a well-defined, pre-coded design system could eventually replace source files.
  2. Assets: Designers should supply all assets necessary for the UI, including photos, illustrations, SVGs, and videos. To streamline development, these files should be optimized for the web.
  3. Motion Specifications: Animations play a pivotal role in UX, requiring close collaboration between designers and developers. Designers should offer a clickable prototype featuring animations and motion specifications, encompassing aspects such as timing, motion curves, and velocity.
  4. Naming Convention: Designers should adhere to a file naming structure to enhance organization. This practice simplifies navigation and file retrieval for both designers and developers.

Addressing Missing Elements in UI Implementation

In the course of implementing the UI, if you discover any missing elements, don’t hesitate to communicate with the design team and request the necessary assets. Skipping or skimping on essential components can hinder the delivery of the best possible product. Remember, both developers and designers are integral parts of the same team, working towards a common goal.

Collaborate Throughout Development

Recognize the valuable role designers play beyond being mere “pixel pushers.” They are innovators with insights to enhance products before and after implementation. Leverage their creative problem-solving skills and encourage their involvement throughout the development process. Designers can provide valuable input and help refine the product even during the implementation phase.

Should you have ideas that might alter the visual aspects of the product, consult with the design team before making changes. Modifications to the UI should be approved by the design team to ensure consistency and uphold the product’s user experience. Even seemingly minor alterations, such as removing an icon or a line of microcopy, can impact the overall user experience.

Embrace Project Management Tools

Designers may not always be aware of the time and effort required for quality development. To keep the design team informed about the progress of a build, consider using project management tools. While various platforms are available, it’s crucial to adopt a tool that aligns with the team’s preferences and workflows. At Jobswifi, for instance, we initially explored Basecamp but eventually migrated to Jira for its compatibility with our developers’ workflow and its ability to streamline the UI design process. Consistency in tool usage ensures effective communication and tracking of progress across the team.

Establishing an Effective Feedback Loop

In the course of implementation, fostering a robust feedback loop with designers is paramount for achieving optimal results. Consider the following strategies to ensure constructive feedback and streamline communication:

1. Emphasize Visual Communication

  • Utilize visual aids for effective communication. Encourage designers to provide screenshots or videos that pinpoint specific issues or desired adjustments. Visual comparisons between the current implementation and the intended UI enhance clarity.

2. Prioritize Specific and Descriptive Feedback

  • Encourage designers to offer specific feedback. When adjustments are needed, precise details matter. Specify elements such as the direction and pixel count for repositioning components. Clear and detailed feedback eliminates ambiguity in implementation instructions.

3. Cultivate Patience and Clarification

  • Acknowledge that occasional feedback might be unclear from a development standpoint. Exercise patience and establish a communication workflow that encourages designers to clarify any ambiguous points. This proactive approach ensures a smooth collaboration throughout the design and development phases.

The Synergy of Design and Development

In a collaborative environment, the fusion of design and development capabilities emerges as a catalyst for innovation. A notable instance from Toptal involved a modal window implementation with a blurred background, causing extended page loading times. A developer proposed an alternative solution—a full-color overlay—that not only addressed the loading issue but also preserved image quality. This collaboration underscores the symbiotic relationship between designers, who enhance aesthetic and user experience, and developers, who leverage their technical insights to navigate challenges and envision innovative solutions. The convergence of diverse perspectives within the team becomes a driving force for continuous innovation.