Encourage collaborative design to build better products
“Design is a process. An intimate collaboration between engineers, designers, and clients,” — Henry Dreyfuss, design pioneer.
Collaborative design has helped people make some of the greatest products in modern history.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen collaborated to build Microsoft, the world’s largest software company and Windows innovator. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak needed each other’s collective talents to found and grow Apple. Ben and Jerry made some of the world’s best ice cream by sharing ideas and working side-by-side.
From the MacBook to cookie dough ice cream, collaborative design has proven itself a successful approach to product development.
You can build better products by encouraging collaboration that draws from your team’s collective talents and refines decent concepts into excellent designs.
Some UX/UI designers prefer working alone, so they don’t want to participate in cross-teams collaboration until they have concrete concepts that they love. Despite reluctance from some team members, a culture of collaboration results in better product outcomes. Minds mesh, ideas flow, and designers share a common goal: excellent, intuitive designs that make users feel comfortable.
Here are some tips to help you add a collaborative design process to your team’s workflow.
1. Set shared goals
UX design involves multiple processes, from brainstorming to testing, requiring various team members at all times. But not all these team members agree or share the same common goal. UX designers often work in silos — researchers research, designers design, and testers test. This segmented approach prevents a collaborative design process and blocks communication between people who can build on each other’s ideas.
Setting shared goals helps solve this issue by making more people aware of the individual tasks and overall purpose of the project.
Setting shared goals — and communicating these goals properly — gives team members a clear focus and direction. Everyone knows who’s doing what, how, and when. Team members know what you want to achieve, and you know what they expect you to achieve.
Shared goals don’t always demolish silos, but they do add windows that let team members see the bigger picture. While communicating these shared goals it’s also best to let members of other parts of the product team have a seat at the table to improve the communication flow.
2. Invest in collaborative tools
Team members often work in isolation because they use different tools. Design processes become fragmented, resulting in poor design. Imagine if you could centralize your entire UX/UI project with one tool.
UXPin Merge lets everyone collaborate on the same project, designing from one source of truth. Create design systems with pattern libraries, style guides, and libraries that give everyone access to approved assets.
Choosing a collaborative tool like UXPin with Merge technology also helps prevent software bloat that can contribute to inconsistencies in design and functionality. Merge lets your team approach projects from design and code-based perspectives to give you a straightforward, uncluttered way to create responsive prototypes that are almost production-ready! It’s possible thanks to using coded components that cut down the whole product development process including designing and coding.
The collaborative design process becomes much easier when everyone from designers to developers can use the same tool to reach a common goal.
3. Communicate better
UX/UI teams underestimate the power of communication, especially with larger teams. Not articulating design thoughts, ideas, and processes could render an entire project useless from the start.
Communication failures in UX/UI manifest themselves in various ways:
“A developer who receives the wireframes may assemble detailed feedback on missing functionality, not knowing that the functionality is beyond the scope of the deliverable,” says the User Experience Professionals Association. “The result is frustration about a seemingly incompetent usability professional who doesn’t understand what the system is about, and additional frustration when the developer learns that the feedback was in vain because it was way too early for scrutinizing wireframes on that level.”
How can you improve communication in a way that encourages collaborative design? Try:
- Choosing project management tools like Trello or Asana that let you assign tasks and track their progress.
- Getting UX/UI team members in the same room to discuss ideas and identify potential barriers to success.
- Finding an application like Zoom or GoToMeeting that lets any remote workers you have participate from their locations.
- Selecting a project methodology like Agile, Scrim, or Kanban that works well for your team.
- Making sure everyone knows that they can come to the project manager to talk about their concerns without worrying about repercussions.
“By encouraging participants to suspend judgment of ideas, participants will feel free to generate unusual ideas, bold ideas, humorous ideas, and even absurd ideas,” says Forbes magazine.
4. Lead with collaboration in mind
Project managers need to lead by example. You cannot create a collaborative environment simply by telling people to work together. You must open yourself to the collaborative design process.
What does leading with collaboration in mind look like? It means you need to do things like:
- Accept feedback without feeling personally attacked.
- Ask team members to review your work and give you criticisms.
- Sit down with designers — in person or virtually — to brainstorm ideas without judgment.
- Introduce new team members to make sure they feel welcome.
- Resist the temptation to dismiss ideas until you get more insight from your team.
- Accept difficult tasks to show that everyone on the team must make sacrifices.
Project leaders need teams that respect them and follow their management style. If you don’t demonstrate a commitment to collaboration, no one else will.
UXPin Merge makes collaborative design easier
It takes a village to build better products. Collaboration leads to better design outcomes, allowing researchers, prototypers, and designers to exchange creative ideas and streamline workflows.
Choosing a collaborative design tool is one of the most important steps you can take to start building better products. Request access to UXPin Merge to discover features that bring every member of your team together so they can work toward a common goal.