Creating a better design handoff experience for developers

Every project requires a design handoff at some point. Unless you’re one person doing all the work, there will come a time when you need to take your prototype and have someone else work on it. While that sounds simple enough, it’s usually anything but.

Moving a project from design into development can be a move fraught with errors, misunderstandings, and other issues that stretch the launch date out. Today, you’ll learn how to eliminate or smooth over many of these issues.

How can you ensure the entire process of a design handoff goes smoothly? Here are some ideas to help you and your team.

Keep everyone in the same loop

Even if the developers are not part of the early development of the product, you’ll have fewer problems if they are kept in the loop on the progress from the start. This eliminates the abrupt shift from one party to the other and ensures the developers are aware of what went into the original prototype. This may be done by CCing them on important conversations and developments with the project early on, and inviting their input as the handoff draws nearer.

Streamline your files

It can take a ridiculous amount of time to pass files from one person to another, so this is an area you need to streamline. There are a few ways to do this. First, you’ll want to optimize your images, since these usually take the longest to load on a website. Over a fifth of website file sizes comes from the images, so this is easily remedied by optimizing those images.

The other way you can speed things up is to keep all files on the cloud so everyone has access to the most recent update. This also allows everyone to access the files from any device, even if they’re in another country.

Create design styles and stick to them

Templates are particularly handy for this step, but even if the project is very different from anything you’ve previously used, it’s simplest to set a style. You can create a style board with specific fonts, colors, etc., and make this available to anyone working on the project. This ensures everything is the same across the board.

Documentation of typestyles and brand colors is a must if you want the design handoff to go smoothly.

Create a design system 

Take one step forward – use your pattern libraries, style guides, toolkits, and design principles to create a design system – set of standards for design and code. It ensures design-product consistency and saves a lot of time. It can boost your productivity by making the most of reusable UI components. 

Components are an essential part of building an app and it’s much easier if everyone has access to the same ones. The product team working on the project will have an easier time keeping it all going properly. This also minimizes the time needed for communication, because everything is easily available.

The designers should also maintain documentation for their project, so the developers can later check back on it.

Here’s all that you need to know.

Design with code

How about taking your designing process to a whole new level? If you really want to: 

  • save a lot of time – design and code the product faster, 
  • make sure there is no disconnect between the design and the product, 
  • make the most of your design system, 

… then design with already coded UI components! 

Don’t worry, you won’t have to learn how to code. It’s extremely time-effective and it lets you skip redrawing the same components over and over again. Not to mention it practically gets rid of the complicated and repetitive handoff process. 

How to do it? Find a design tool with a code-powered approach. At UXPin, we have a solution called Merge that allows you to leverage your design system and design with React components to streamline the communication between dev and design. 

Use a grid system

Grids are a simple way to ensure everyone is on the same page. Turn grids on throughout the team and you’ll all see exactly what you need. This is also a good way to ease communication since people will all reference the same grid as they talk about the project.

Create a dedicated channel for communication

Communication is key and that means you need to ensure everyone can discuss the project, both before and after the design handoff. To make life simpler for yourself, you’ll want to make this a single channel and set up some guidelines ahead of time. Make sure everyone has access and require frequent updates. There should also be regular meetings if you want to make sure everyone is in on the latest changes.

Use a system that is designed for communicating and that allows you to create a to-do list, deadlines, etc. so all team members know where they stand. This will help keep the project on track as well as let developers know when they will need to step in and take over.

Get licenses pre-approved

Want to avoid a lot of issues down the road? Make sure your images, text, and any other components are licensed and paid for if need be. Even if you have used free fonts, you should have a copy of the license on hand. This ensures there is no last-minute scrambling to figure out whether or not everything is legally able to be used.

Summary

The design handoff process doesn’t need to be as complicated as it usually is. When you have a solid plan with everything carefully documented, it will go easier on everyone involved, especially with the new code-approach to design that can make things easy for both sides. Ready to try a solution that will streamline your design process once for all? Sign up for Merge!

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