How do Designers work with Developers at MAQE?
A guideline for designer to work with cross-disciplinary teammates in a fluid Agile based environment agency.
This is one of our onboarding article to help a flesh designer who just get started at MAQE. But we see it is also be helpful for fellow designers who might shared the same starting point. That they may just get a job in an agencies, software houses or similar workplaces.
We write this based on working environment of MAQE — a digital consultant company based on Bangkok, Thailand. We provide digital consultant as well as full digital web-based product development that made up by more than 40 tech-firmed people who specialized in many criteria.
We hope this article can be a short guidance for our new joiners. As well as many designers who just shifted themselves into a tech-firm industry.
Designers at MAQE
So, If you believe that you were working as a UI designer / UX Designer / Web Designer / Researcher or any kind of title that makes you responsible for something very specific, you will start a new life here.
Every designer at MAQE has an honor to deal with various types of product. Do whatever to escort a product in each Iterations until it reaches a shore. The job is similar to Product designers, who combine art, science, and technology in order to create new products that are functional to people.
At MAQE, we are doing a web-based product which our operation is based on Agile Development Process. Teamwork is considered as a key. So it is impossible to just staying in your own place without having a clue what’s going on. As a designer, it is important to have a sense of ownership on a project you are assigned as well as responsibility on any circumstances that could happen.
Know your teammates
“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.”
At MAQE, most projects consist of these players:
- Project Manager (PM)
A person who maintains the project scope, deals with client, prioritizes tasks and assigns jobs to team members. PM is able to give you an advice almost everything about the project, but may not technically in-depth. Project Manager may ask you an estimation of work you are assigned or daily/weekly update.
- Front-end Developer (FE)
A person who turns your design to reality. FE is a major player whom you need to work with most of the time. You should think clearly how things work on your design. (Layout, Buttons, States, Transitions, Interaction.) Many FEs know design as designers do, so they may be able to provide you suggestion and make your design goes even more possible.
- Back-end Developer (BE)
While FEs make Interface, BEs deal with logic. They handle mostly with data process and deep layer techniques. You may need to work with BEs on how the system or a framework of the website is going to be. They may need your help on interface design that fits the operation of the system.
- Quality Assurance (QA)
This is a person who ensures that everything works right both designed and technical terms. QA validates the development according to the design specs. Again, you need to have a clear thinking on how your design works. QA needs solid decision to refer when presenting to a client.
*QA at MAQE usually finds your design on your JIRA ticket. Be sure to write / paste Zeplin link / or anything to update QA with the details.
There might be another designers who share the same project as you do. Designers at MAQE process individual unique talent. You may get a chance to work with a designer who specializes on something different, which will help response to project requirements.
At MAQE, we handle diverse and numbers of project. But not all of them are on the same aspect. The management methods can be varied depends on the budget, scope, timeline, etc. — Here are the situations you are likely to face:
- Start from Scratch
You will be assigned to start a project along with teammates from the beginning. You will be at the forefront who meet with customers, conduct interviews, setup guidelines, and be responsible for any design requirement. Basically, you should be able to clarify the design infrastructure for further consequences. (For example, a new designer involves in a project and they can design upon your guideline.)
This is the point where you are assigned to an unfinished project. This may happen when a project urgently needs design assistance or when a team player was rotated. The Project Manager will provide you the background of this type of project. However, It is important to understand the legacy design infrastructure (such as, guidelines) before get started.
These are the very best practices concluded upon our experiences.
- Respect and trust your teammates.
- Be open-minded. Listen to everyone and use their common to support your creativity.
- Always let the team review your design after you came up one. Explain it to them clearly. (Give them a clear explanation) (Can be quick sketch or a wireframe.)
- Update the team if you made changes after finalize your design — especially QA.
- Always think of different scenarios of your design. Is it responsive? How does the data come and go? What is the next step when the page is blank? and please make sure everyone in your team understands that.
- Define a proper design guideline as a reference for QA and FE.
- Understand the capability of technology. Do not try to push over-engineering design that not worth development hours. (Developer will let you know if there is one.)
- Focus on the most important feature first. Having unnecessary cosmetic like transitions can consumes development time. (Avoid time-consuming process such as an unnecessary cosmetic) (An unnecessary cosmetic such as transitions may consume editing time)
- Try to understand the business objective, project workflow, and technology used in that project as you can earn proper alignment in your designs.
- Try to participate in meetings and share your ideas.
- Understand the project workflow like JIRA, Agile, Scrum.
- Leave some spaces for teammates to ask you questions when they have doubts about your design. Some people don’t want to interrupt when you seems to be busy.
- Do not hesitate to share the design knowledge (techniques) to the team, so they can understand why or how your design built upon and be able to synchronize with you for a better work in the following time.
- Do not just follow the technical requirements. Use the design to enhance those requirements.
- Do not be scared to raise concerns or questions.
I got a Problem
What if I do not understand technical explanation?
Answer: Most designers can get struggle with unfamiliar technical vocabularies. And that makes it difficult to catch up the conversation. You may ask the developer to recap again with a simpler wording. (Because usually most of the team are tech-firm people.) Or ask them to make a simple analogy. (E.G. “API” is like a bridge to get a data from platform to a platform.)
How to maintain harmony between teammates?
Answer: Everyone has his own point of view. The chance of having misunderstanding among the team members will be less if you and your teammates are on the same page. The essential thing to maintain harmony is UNDERSTANDING. The more you KEEP SYNCING with the current situation, the more you will comprehend the job and prompt for any unpredictable situations.
How to know whether my work needs improvement?
Answer: It is good to let the developer peek your design from time to time no matter how the progress is. (This also includes the ones that is time-mattered.) Developer may be able to provide you suggestion on what you’ve been struggling with. Let them know as soon as you can.
Do I have to know programming?
Answer: Not a requirement — As long as you can figure out how your design will be upon the standard practice. Yet, you may have less advantage to see any additional possibilities. Knowing basic programming is helpful for working with the Developers. With that skill, you may also make decision or generate new features using smaller amount of time. Fortunately, you can earn those skills from practice and working experience.
What if Developer does not agree with my idea?
Answer: It is common that sometimes the developer will not agree with the design. Most of the cases are because of technical limitation. Yet, it can be something else. At MAQE, it is unlikely for the Developer to only follow what you design. They will question you how the design works, both technical term and related disciplines like UX, business term or more. It is important to explain your design clearly why and how — then try to understand their point of view. From there — you may find trade-off or a new decent solution.
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