Collaborative Design Process – Bringing Together Vision and Execution


Designers and developers should be comrades in arms throughout the collaborative design process, pushing towards a common goal. But inevitably, as the case with any partnership, challenges with effective communication can happen.

So, what steps can we take to begin building a better collaborative design process?

Brainstorm Together

During the design process, a common problem time is the mismatch between vision and execution. Liberating a designer’s creative freedoms while being mindful of a developer’s technical capacities is the balance we must work towards. By striking early during the brainstorming phase, we can improve the communication between designer and developer.

First, the team of designers and developers must come together and define the problem. The situation at hand – examined, questioned, and interpreted – will lay the foundation on which more complex components can be built. Components like topics for research, recruiting external resources and logistical minutiae will all depend on the formal definition of the problem.

The brainstorming process should improve communication between designer and developer.

Brainstorming as a team helps set parameters that can all be agreed upon. Timelines and budgets are constraints that every team must deal with. But in the context of the collaborative design process, there are unique problems that can be resolved through better communication. For example, let’s say you’re a marketing manager looking to create an animated explainer video about your rather intricate product. You present an idea built with immense creative energy, aspirations high and hopeful – only to be hit by a pang of reality because of a developer’s technical limitations.

Using a collaborative approach during each step of the creative process will make sure everyone is working within the scope of one another’s capacities without overstepping potential limitations. Developers can work their magic to bring the designer’s vision to life. Through collaboration, each can respect the other’s craft and keep a stream of communication open and available. This is true even for remote work when online team collaboration is important.

Design Together

With a skeleton based on your defined question, a designer can now commit to fleshing out a feasible and executable product. The core problem, collaboratively probed and made explicit by designers and developers alike, can now be addressed efficiently. Parameters are set, limitations are documented, and relationships are formed.

Nevertheless, even with the most thorough planning, hiccups along the design process are simply inevitable. New ideas may pop up on the creative side, or a technical snag may prolong the timeline. No matter how much you want to scry the stars and anticipate for possible problems, you’re bound to have bumps along the way.

Consider the Apple Watch Series 3. Although highly vaunted, the product still had to push its release by weeks after the announced date, from September 2017 to October 2017. The key is – complications happen to all of our processes. A perfect fail-safe just doesn’t exist.

The collaborative design process inevitably produces snags in processes that must be overcome.

That’s not to say the brainstorming designers and developers did are rendered useless now that you’ve encountered an issue. Rather, it helped to identify the main problems and establish a baseline of communication and trust. Relaying new ideas and new problems between teams, especially with those you’ve already fostered a relationship with, is the necessary back and forth toward completing a product. The collaboration process doesn’t just end at planning the project – it endures long after.

Revise Together

Perfection may not exist, but in chasing it you might find excellence instead. But for your product to be excellent, it must go through many iterations first even after the initial draft or prototype.

You’ll notice the same themes running across every phase. Taking note that the core problem is being addressed, that trust is the basis for giving and receiving feedback and respecting the space of respective teams – these are the key to revising towards an excellent product.

Collaborative revisioning is an important but often overlooked component of the process.

For evaluating performance, A/B tests and multivariate tests are methods to compare which version of a product performs best. Other methods like conducting surveys, market research and placebo-controlled studies can also prove useful for revision, depending on the product.

How Can a Digital Asset Management System Help?

Each phase in the collaborative design process scaffolds, lending itself to the next phase. Each doesn’t live in solitude and it isn’t compartmentalized; rather, the process is a connected, consistent thread. But between the margins, what can liberate your workflow and improve communication is a digital asset management (DAM) solution.

Your media library, which may include brainstorming notes and relevant pieces of collateral, will be streamlined by the capacities of a DAM system. Not only will your assets be organized, you can also comment on files directly, making collaboration much easier. Let a DAM solution help you collaborate so that your focus is on creating the best product you can. Learn more by downloading the ebook below.