What Designers Can Do to Ensure a Smooth Design Handoff
If you are close or are finishing up your design after a series of iterations, then you are probably anticipating the next step—the design handoff. There are many ways to unsuccessfully pass along your designs to the development team.
To help ease your mind and make this process easier, we have compiled a list that will help you thoroughly prepare for a design handoff. All so you can avoid any misunderstandings between you and the developers.
Design prototypes with a single source of truth between design and engineering. Bring interactive components to UXPin and reduce the friction during the design handover. Visit our UXPin Merge page.
6 Designer’s Tasks for Smooth Design Handoff
Standardize naming conventions
Using appropriate and coherent terms will ensure that there is no confusion between you and the developer. For example, instead of naming stages of your product with “Latest” or “Newest,” it is best to keep it simple and use, for example, “v1,” “v2,” “v3,” and so on.
This will make it easy to see the various versions of your design from the original to the latest and will help the developer navigate your design process. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with developer handoff terms. A good resource for this is the BEM notation guide.
Read more about terminology in our Content Design System Guide.
Build interactive prototypes
Even the most beautiful prototype fails to communicate what developers need to build if it’s static. That’s why adding interactivity to your design is so crucial. You can do that by using advanced prototyping features like States, Variables, and Expressions.
There’s also another way. You can bring coded components to design and build prototypes that are fully interactive by default. Read more about it in our previous article: What is component-driven prototyping?
Annotate and explain your design decisions
Since you will be handing off multiple digital assets and designs to the developer, it is important to build a habit of annotating them. This will give the developer context of what each asset is. You should also explain each design and why you created it in the way you did.
Using a design handoff tool like UXPin will make this annotation process a lot easier. It will allow you to collaborate on your designs in real time and create contextual documentation.
You can add detailed descriptions of each element in your design which will help clarify the function each of them offers. There is also an option to include accessibility guidance for greater clarity.
Create templates or checklists for the future
For the most part, every design handoff process will involve similar structure. So, to make it easier for future design handoffs, it is best to create a template or a checklist that will help you make the process more efficient. This will ensure uniformity and a seamless transition from designer to developer.
It will also save you a lot of time because you will already have a good process to follow and won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you have a design handoff.
Specifications help developers understand CSS properties, be it heights, widths, spacing, font sizes, etc. Design tools usually automate this process. UXPin, for example, have a built-in Spec Mode that helps developers select UI elements to view specifications.
UXPin also automatically generates starter CSS that developers can copy. And when you’re designing prototypes with interactive components, your devs can copy the code behind those components into their workflow. Read more about how UXPin Merge technology simplifies design handoff.
Improve cross-team communication
Smooth communication is important for any project – and the design handoff process is no exception. That’s why it’s important to bring the developer into the design process at an early stage. This way, you’ll have more time to introduce and explain all of your designs and ideas.
This will be beneficial not only for the development team but also for you as a designer. Namely, you’ll be able to take advantage of their technical expertise by asking them for feedback during the design process.
By keeping an open dialogue, you can discuss with them which design components are working well and what needs improving. You’ll also be able to understand how you can implement positive changes to your design.
To summarize, good communication will:
- Give the developers context and background knowledge of the design
- Create a faster and more efficient design handoff process
- Keep the developer on the same page, which will ultimately result in faster and more accurate development of the design
- Avoid misunderstandings related to the design handoff.
As you can see, involving developers early in the design handoff is one of the best things you can do in the product development process. We discuss it in more detail in the next section.
Involve developers early in design
Oftentimes, design teams make the mistake of separating their work from the developer’s work. As a result, there can be a lot of confusion during and after the design handoff. This can lead to faulty development and more time that you’ll have to spend clearing up any misunderstandings.
So, in order to create a streamlined process, versus a fragmented one, you’ll want to include the development team early on. To accomplish this, there are three main steps you should follow:
- Seek insight from developers—During the design process, it is always important to at least have some idea of how your design will translate to an actual website or app. So, in order to make design handoff smoother, it is important to seek insight and advice from developers early on.
- Include developers in talks with stakeholders—Ultimately, the stakeholder is not looking for a well-designed prototype but for a good product. So, by including developers in conference calls or talks early in the design process, you can ensure that both the design team and development team have a sense of clarity. Hence, they’ll have a good understanding of what the end result should look like.
- Sharing design ideas with developers—It is a lot easier to correct any potential problems with a design while they are still in the “ideation phase” instead of the prototyping phase. So, before carrying out any major design ideas, it is best to check in with developers to see if what you want to build is feasible.
Improve Design Handoff with UXPin
All in all, communication is key. Instead of seeing the design and development teams as separate, it is best to see them as one. So, involving the development team in the design process and making sure everyone is on the same page will help create a seamless design handoff.
In practice, using a tool like UXPin will allow you to create prototypes with components that come from your design system. This will make it very clear to developers how each component is meant to function and create a seamless transition process.
Bring components from Git repo, Storybook, npm to UXPin and streamline your design handoff process. Learn more about it.