5 Experience Design Tips for Developers
This article outlines five ways for proactive developers to collaborate in the experience-design process. >> Interested in working for Praxent? Check out our job openings!
Building digital products that change the world requires radical collaboration. Radical collaboration challenges craftspeople to loosen their grip on the skills that define them — to teach others and assume a servant role for the sake of greater impact.
Half-hearted collaboration, on the other hand, is a faint agreement to work together because you have to. It’s the difference between tossing a project over the fence without so much as a “Hi-dee ho, neighbor!” and tearing down the fence to allow for the completely free flow of information across disciplines.
How far are you willing to go to collaborate on products that change the world? As a developer, are you willing to learn from a designer? Are you willing to teach a designer?
Authentic experience design is executed through radical collaboration. Here are five ways developers can partner with designers to create business- and user–centric products that change the way people live.
1. Align your work with the product vision.
Don’t make the mistake of committing to development-driven vision. The best developers understand their work serves an end goal, and that a seamlessly functioning product is not always the end goal. Developing products that work is usually a means to an end.
Work with designers and strategists to understand the product vision and to get a clear picture of desired outcomes for the product. Developers who do this can help their teams make better decisions and avoid getting stuck on problems that don’t matter.
Finally, don’t confuse role with value. Clean, well-written code that delivers seamless functionality is of critical value to experience-centered digital products. But the role of code is just that–seamless functionality that drives user- and business–centric outcomes.
2. Understand the user and the business.
You don’t need to become a UX designer, but you do need to work with one. Ask to see user personas, mental model diagrams and journey maps as well as a simple description of product market fit.
Frictionless user experience represents only one side of the coin of digital product success. The most successful and authentically innovative digital products don’t just make daily experiences better, they generate financial return. The most valuable developers are those whose technical expertise allows them to deliver high-value business impact at a low cost.
If you understand the overlap of user and business interests, you’ll understand the purpose of the product you’re working on.
3. Work with designers and strategists to write user stories.
User stories should be the result of a collaborative effort between design, development and strategy. In some cases, you may need to coach others on how to write user stories in a way that’s actually helpful for developers.
If you’re the one writing the user stories, make sure you rely heavily on the design team for input, creating stories that accurately set the stage for desired outcomes.
Well-written user stories can help create alignment across product design and development teams. Poorly written user stories can create confusion, silos, conflict and do-overs.
It’s time to think critically about user stories! Download our template and guide for writing user stories with Gherkin syntax.
4. Define project priorities for making smart development decisions.
Once you have a clear grasp on product vision, user profiles and business requirements, you’ll need to make sure development remains aligned with these priorities at each stage of execution.
We recommend creating a list of project priorities that serve as rules for decision-making. Developers can turn to these rules when they need to decide between development options.
For instance, some projects might need to prioritize accessible user interface design even if it means cutting a cool feature idea. When at a crossroads, developers can fall back on a list of clearly defined project priorities to make decisions that line up with end goals.
5. Get involved in product concept discussions.
Product concept discussions should not be development-driven, but they should be influenced by developer input.
Collaborating with designers, product strategists and product managers in early product concept discussions has a two-fold benefit. Learning firsthand about product vision helps smooth the transition from design to development. It also provides an opportunity for developers to make other teams aware of technical constraints and technological opportunities that should influence the product concept.