How can the eternal frenemies - designers and developers - work together?
Our guest author lays down some basic guidelines that designers and developers can follow to create impactful products.
I read an article on The Hard Copy analysing why Indian banking digital interfaces are terrible. That got me thinking. Most fintech products are more traditional than their new neo-bank and start-up competitions and need help in connecting with the digital audience in the visual language they understand.
As a strategist who builds design strategies for companies, I have faced similar problems across industries and I believe there is a solution to this design problem. It would be helpful to understand how to work with your frenemies, i.e the designers and developers who create these banking interfaces.
As a strategist at a design studio that works with Project Managers every day, two solutions can be utilised by these companies. One is the ‘Developers vs. Designers vs. Product Managers’ approach and the other is the ‘Design to Developer Final Handover.’
Project Managers vs. Designers vs. Developers
Here's what happens a lot of times:
1) PMs give *Business Requirements* but wrapped in layers of "designs" they think would work & fix bottlenecks.
2) Designers make assumption-based interfaces with no actual user insights.
3) Developers go ahead and write lines of code based on the limited technical capabilities of an app and not the requirement and chase deadlines.
That's a recipe for disaster.
To get you started- having a suitable template for a Business Requirement (BRD), great design systems, creating cleaner files, and having stakeholder meetings are all good starting points.
Transparent and unbiased communication that flows through the project manager and the entire system toward the designers and developers works wonders. When bank PMs give (it could be anyone from a company giving a brief to a studio, also known as 'vendors') a brief to a designer who tries to identify the need of the end-user and re-working the original brief with a creative brief (Image: Process that designers can follow throughout the inception till launch,) communication helps bridge gaps and they can execute the said plan for the end-user. And the best way (sometimes, crazier than it seems) is to start with hypotheses and assumptions of what you believe may be correct based on research/observation. And if you’re lucky- analytics. An HDD-based design works wonders here.
Image: A quick overview process of designing with the project managers & other stakeholders & for the understanding of this article
Based on Hypothesis Driven Design
Design to Developer Handover
Timelines vs: Coordination vs: Plan of Action
The simplest way to get this right is by having a brief call with stakeholders and a clear BRD (Business Requirement Document). that generally works well with non-designer and designer folks equally. What all stakeholders need to understand is no one process will fit all objectives. But a good designer will design the system for maximum efficiency for all stakeholders.
In an ideal world, the timelines will be realistically based on the current situation of an app, its environment, and the company management. So keep in mind that BRD is created to highlight everything that a PM knows and can help the designer-developer duo understand how to take the project forward and have a real, practical, and great timeline for the project.
This cannot happen without the coordination in formats of a well-planned quick dialogue between the design and development team transparently (even if they are different 'vendors' or 'internal to external' letting them have a dialogue will help two very main pillars for a product in-sync) team might give more clarity as to what would be the required steps to ensuring a good solution.
Ask your designer to give the next actionable steps and a plan of action based on the BRD- that might help remove bottlenecks in all your major and minor project plans.
The author of this article is Nishi Bhat, founder of Idealoft Studio which specialises in Design Strategy, Brand+Product Development and Communication Design for enterprises and startups. Idealoft Studio is a member of afaqs! Marketplace.