The importance of having product designers and developers on the same team
Everyday, I have the pleasure of collaborating with a number of talented developers. My role as Lead Product Designer takes me between various teams on a weekly basis, giving me the opportunity to work closely with people across the business. Not only is it super fun, but it also gives big business benefits, and is beneficial to the overall success of a product. Here’s a few of the reasons why I think it’s good to have designers integrated into your development team, and not locked away in their own (well-decorated!) box.
One, save time
Who doesn’t want to save time? A few extra minutes in bed, maybe enjoying a book in the fresh air or probably, more accurately, get your product delivered that little bit quicker. Having the design process working as part of the development process, woven together like a 16th century Tudor tapestry, delivers extremely well and efficiently. When designing and building a product, small snags or oversights at the beginning can have a ripple effect into later stages of the process, resulting in developers spending more time. If you’ve ever heard of design debt you will have some idea of what I mean. Having product designers in the team with developers like we do at Ghyston, means we’re collaborating right from the beginning of the project and, being able to fuse the visual and technical components at the ideation stage, means we can iron out a lot of the technical complexity that could happen at the design stage if the two teams were disparate.
Two, look after your pennies
You probably saw this one coming, time is money, so save the time and look after your pennies. This one could end here to be honest as that’s a bit of a no brainer, however, I shall flex my brain muscles and elaborate a little more. With the project moving efficiently, more features can be designed and built, resulting in a better end product.
Three, flexing your creative muscles
Having designers and developers working at the table together means we can get the most out of your ideas and the technology we’re using. We’re not just keeping the road clear of any potential blockages down the line, we can work together to make a product that really does feel brilliant to the users, utilising the tech stack to it’s best, to make the design and the tech sing together like two beautiful songbirds. This can be hard to do if your designers are separate and this isn’t anyone’s fault, you can’t design for something you don’t know yet.
Four, time to level up
Knowledge sharing is a huge part of the delivery process, sharing what we know and helping each other to come to the best solutions to the problems we’re facing, this works amazingly inside a team doing the same job roles, but when you form a super group and start sharing knowledge between roles, the team hits a whole new level and are able to solve complex problems all over the shop.
Five, designing, testing and iterating throughout the project
Having design sprints running ahead of development brings lots of juicy greatness, including the ability to run the design process throughout the cycle of the project. This means we can create and maintain the prototype and design system, designing, testing and iterating on user journeys in real time, feeding that back into to development to get the very most out of that phase of the product as possible, rather than front loading all of the design work with little to no technical involvement ending in complexities and reworks that could have been avoided.
Since I started at Ghyston I’ve worked hard to integrate design into the development process. It’s something I really care about as it means better quality products with a great user experience that deliver as much bang for the bucks as possible. We have seen a real benefit from it, and I hope you can too.