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Erick Jones

Designer X Developer clash, and how to solve it like a pro

    In my career I’ve been clashing with many Developers and it took me very long time to realize the big picture and learn how to deal with it. Many people helped me and taught me along the way.

    The clash between Designers and Developers can have many different origins.

    Common complaints about Designers
    from Developers:

    Arbitrary handover
    Inflexible solutions
    Wrong use of pre-stablished components
    Common complaints about Developers
    from Designers:

    Confronting Design decisions
    Wrong implementation
    Blocking / making the process harder
    Denial of implementation

    We Designers

    We Designers start our careers learning UX, Usability, Gestalt principles, Design principles and many other competences that give us the authority and confidence to make good inicial assumptions, or even exact choices for our Designs. Also Many solutions we can propose are so standardized, in the case of UI Design for example, that we know already what to do when. We can have this inicial confidence. It’s possible in many cases.

    For all the other cases, we will have in hands or will conduct User testings, Accessibility testings and other tests that will give us the confidence we need to kickstart some Design. And it’s our job to guarantee that the results will be met and the ‘consumer’ of the product (or whatever you are creating) is satisfied and/or is able to use it efficiently, generating revenue or concluding some user task.

    In the case of Interface Design / Web Design, the next step on the flow is implementation. So other team/professional will take these designs and will make it work, calculate, process, function. These are commonly the Front End Developers. In web or mobile. The exact gap between both competences is the origin of most of your clashes.

    I will tell you a way to close this gap so you and your colleagues won’t kill each other, and the most important: The Organization you work for will benefit immensely from that harmony.

    Fix yourself first

    Make sure to address your negative aspects first. Get in a bored state and reflect, what can I improve on my workflow in order to have a better collaboration with the other team members? Normally it will fall into some or all of these points below:

    • Get out of the Designer’s cave
    • Try to Develop something at least once in life
    • Get down off your pedestal. You learn every single day. There’s no end for learning.
    • Open your mouth
    • Speak, interact, learn how to tell the story to Developers and Stakeholders.

    Do you see the light yet?

    Keep your discovery board public

    First thing you can do is involve the developers on the discovery phase. This is the first step on a smooth collaboration. If this is not possible, make sure to share your discovery and present to the developers soon enough so they also can collaborate on it asynch. This can help you framing the problem the most accurate way possible.

    Keep screenshots and images of the whiteboard and share with everybody involved in the task. Don’t forget to grant access and privilege for relevant people.

    Improve your collaboration game

    Imagine the following interaction Designer <> Developer:

    1. Call out the Developers and develop the solution with them, together. Just take a marker or something similar. Guide them through the solution;
    2. If you have a strong opinion, it makes sense that you also have a strong reason behind it so Present it;
    3. Maybe the solution cannot be implemented because of legacy code or incompatibility with the project scope (something that generates overworking or touching other components);
    4. Does it makes sense? So yes, you need to find another way;
    5. Ask the developer what do they think could be done in order to solve that specific problem;
    6. Maybe you can find a good solution together incorporating their idea using an existing component;

    Now you are not only confident on the solution but also sure that you both will have no stress anymore.


    Lack of communication is the root of many problems. In all kinds of relationships between two+ individuals.
    The only secret here is to start together with the Developers and not bring all the ideas ready and throw on their desks. They have inputs as well and it’s important that you listen to them. You will be surprised with how much this can improve the results. Expand your collaboration and the results will be bulletproof.

    I hope these insights can help you to have a more harmonic relationship within your team.