Powering Collaboration & Crossing the Divide


Powering Collaboration & Crossing the Divide

I Have an Identity Crisis

Really, I do. I’ve struggled with my job title since my love of design has merged into my exploration of markup and coding languages. Most days I split my time between sitting with the designers and sitting with the developers. And I could not be happier.


As a designer and front-end developer, I get to see both sides of the creative team. I often hear “But I don’t code, so…” and “but I’m not an artist, so…” from the respective groups, which has made me realize that there is a deeper need in any
innovative environment for a bridge between the two.

Diana Mounter’s movement of ‘empowering designers to code’ is a step in the right direction to bringing these teams closer, and breaks down the walls of misconceptions we have embraced for so long. (Check out her piece in Creative Blog to see what I mean)

Collaboration is essential to creating seamless products that will impress any client.

I took a look at some of the elements that result in a design/developer collaboration unicorn. Check out the infographic below for some of my findings.

powering collaboration_infographic

Tips & Tricks for Designers & Developers

Crossing the divide is more than just taking a few courses and mastering a list of tools. Effective collaboration requires a commitment to learning, communication, and understanding.

Here are some tips to help you on your journey to crossing the divide:

Stretch beyond your current toolkit.

Expand your skills. It feels amazing to have a conversation with someone on another team based on a mutual understanding. You’ll begin to hear a decrease in comments like “You wouldn’t understand this process…” and an increase in comments like “Because you understand how this process works, we can both agree that this is the next step.” Who knows, you might open others up to learning something they might have misconceptions about.

Be involved in every step of the project, from planning to website launch.

It’s beneficial to involve yourself in other facets of the project in order to learn a thing or two about why something veered a certain way after it left the UX Architect’s hands, or why the site doesn’t look the same in the browser as it did in Illustrator.

The unicorn doesn’t exist. Don’t tackle it alone.

Your teammates are there to help. Don’t try to take one for the team by being the jack-of-all-trades.

Ask questions.

Probably one of the hardest things I’ve learned (and honestly am still learning) is that to learn, you have to ask. No matter how lame you might think your question is, you’ll never know the answer if you don’t ask. Your coworkers will be happy to help.

Use tools to communicate.

Email, Lync, Hangouts, Slack, phone calls, courier pigeon, Google Docs, paper airplanes, and goodness forbid – face-to-face conversation! There is not, and will never be, a lack of communication methods… AKA: you have no excuse to not talk with your coworkers. A walk across the office never hurt anyone, either.

If you could start Walking that would be great Meme

Play nice.

Collaboration between designers and developers means bridging the gap and demolishing myths about the other side of the workplace. A friendly rivalry is fun from time to time, but don’t cross the line (puns!). Encourage each other to grow, explain choices you made, show off your work (where applicable, of course). A strong team will always make a more powerful product than one who gingerly passes work from stage to stage.

Embrace the divide; don’t ignore it.

It’s there. There really are physically two teams – the graphic designers, and the developers. We could probably even go into differences in working environment, communication methods, food choices, levels and types of sarcasm, music selections, etc. It makes us unique. I will only quote Android once in my lifetime, but I love their current tagline: “Be together, not the same.”

Android be Together Not The Same

Have You Crossed the Divide?

Are you a developer and a designer? What are some of your tips for “crossing the divide”? Let us know in a comment below.

Infographic sources: Insight UK, Social Media Today, Workforce.com, Skill Crush