Design developer handoff

Hello everyone! I’m working on an idea to solve some of the pain points in the design-developer handoff. Input on this forum would also be appreciated on what the biggest pain points are when working with devs.

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Here are a few pain points I’ve experienced with working with dev teams throughout the years.

  • Devs prefer all UI mocks for each screen, all assets, and measurements related to the design (as they should).
  • For web applications, the designs should cover all the UI states for each view. Example: For a form field. How do we display an input warning message? Does the message wrap under the field? How is that message display on small devices? At what point does the message change color? Does the message animate if so how long is the animation?
  • Depending on the work environment the biggest hurdle I’ve experienced is getting the devs to follow the pixel-perfect design guidelines. Devs tend to have a “good enough” approach regarding UI design. This can cause conflict and drag out the process.

Thanks! Makes a lotta sense.

Just a few things to add to what @JHiro said.

Each dev team - and each developer on the team - is going to be different. And your approach to working with each dev team and team member will become more streamlined over time as you learn what your dev team needs and wants.

I’d also add a couple of great ways to reduce pain points:

Include Devs in the Research and Design Process

The more that developers understand the reason and significance behind your design decisions, the more likely they are to be invested in carrying them out faithfully and the less likely they’ll be to need additional explanation or oversight.

It also means that you’re far more likely to catch technical “gotchas” that could derail you early in the design process, meaning that everyone saves time, money, and energy by having fewer design iterations.

So how do you do this? Sometimes it’s simply about communication - having regular touchpoints as you go through the process.

You may also consider having devs come as observers or note takers (under a strict code of silence) for stakeholder or user interviews.

In non-COVID times, simply bringing them over to your desk to show them your latest iteration or talk over a problem you’re having can be extremely effective.

Provide Great Post-Handoff Support

You can’t just hand a project off to the dev team and hope for everything to go well. You need to be there for them.

Make sure that they not only know that you’re available to answer questions, make a point of going out of your way to check in a on a regular basis. A simple “How’s project X going? What can I do to help out with it?”

Ask to be included in any and all demos that the dev team gives - not just final demos or pre-QA demos. In the same way that design is an iterative process, development progresses at steps. This will help you point out design issues early, reducing re-work (which is a HUGE benefit for the dev team) and preventing mistakes from happening further along in the process.

What Does This All Mean?

Put simply, by extending the dev team into the design process and extending yourself into the development process, the “dev handoff” ceases to be a thing. Instead of a meeting to communicate designs and requirements in vacuum and saying bon voyage to your work until the dev team has had their way with it, you are eliminating the handoff all together.

There is simply a point in the project where there is an alignment of understanding of goals and requirements between design and dev, where the dev team begins doing most of the work on a project, and your involvement becomes somewhat less.


Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any questions or if I can provide any clarification.

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