Collaborative projects are at the heart of Fifteen’s success. Without communication and shared understanding, chaos will ensue. This is why we encourage our team to interact with each other, sharing ideas and helping to make our projects the best they can be. This is especially encouraged between design and development, stages of a website that can often overlap.
Traditionally, web designers and web developers are two different jobs, and we like to keep it that way at Fifteen. However, it’s key that both have a good understanding of the other. We encourage our web developers to take a keen interest in design, and the principles on which our designers base their work. We also encourage designers to take an interest in web development, knowing what is achievable, what will work and try and estimate the logistics of their design. It’s not a case of learning the trade entirely, but getting an understanding of what the other is capable of achieving. Ultimately developers and designers bring their very different set of skills to a project, but they share the same goals.
When a new web project is brought in by our Account Managers, it is passed onto our Digital Producer to decide who will work on the project. They will assign a designer (or more if needed) and a developer (or two) onto the project. Initial research and discovery stages on the project should be understood by the whole team working on the project from the get go, if a designer knows the brief for a website, and the developer doesn’t, that is the first place we can run into problems. With a collaborative team, problems and misunderstanding is a lot less likely, and shared goals ensures a smooth operation. Project start meetings should include a member from each team, not only from an understanding point of view, but also because we like our clients to meet the faces who will be working on their project.
During wireframing stages of a project, designers will often call upon the web developers to brainstorm ideas. Wireframes provide the blueprints to a website, so it’s key to get all ideas down here. We can eliminate any unforeseen hiccups at a stage where changes are easy to make. With two very different minds approaching the same problems, we can approach a website in a collaborative and cohesive manner. Where a designer might approach a problem in one way, a developer can suggest a smoother delivery of content. Likewise, if a developer thinks of a way to solve an issue, the designer may be able to deliver it in such a way that makes the user experience as smooth as possible. We won’t send wireframes to a client for approval until we as a team have approved them first. There’s nothing worse than having shown someone a great design, then finding out that it’s not a feasible thing to achieve later down the line.
Once wireframes are approved, designers will then hold the reigns for the time being, while developers will take a back seat. However, during the design period, designers will still always be asking opinions and important questions with the rest of the team. Once designs are approved and the project is ready to go into development, the digital producer, designer and developer will all have a briefing meeting before the developer puts their coding hands to work! It’s now the developers turn to take the reigns. Despite this being the developer’s main time on the project, they should always be in contact with their designer, to make sure they’re following the layouts correctly and everything is running in tandem with the wireframes and designs.
While this approach suits some more than others, we always encourage open communication between our developers and designs throughout the project. Whether it’s a little or a lot, through email or using chat apps such as Slack, calling meetings to discuss ideas – it’s imperative to a project’s success that all collaborators use these channels to solve problems. What is the most important point of all, is that from day one, all of the team working on that particular website should be included. It allows everyone to work from the same page and strive towards the same goal for their client.