Solid vs. Outline Icons

Icons are a universal language that helps users navigate and function digitally. From a design perspective, many considerations go into creating icons that are eye-catching and understandable. One of the primary considerations is whether to choose solid and outline icons. Let’s look at what makes solid and outline icons different and how they function as an essential element of digital design.

What is an Outline Icon?

Outline icons have subtle characteristic figures that appear on the outer edges of the hero. This style emphasizes the simple shape of the icon and allows small visual changes to communicate a variety of meanings.

What is a Solid Icon?

Solid icons grab the users’ attention with a simple design and careful coloring. As you can see in the image below, the solid icons stand out more than an outline icon, and as a result, they don’t need to contain as many subtle cues or shapes around the edge of the icon. Hollow icons rely on the shape to attract attention, whereas solid icons draw the eye with their color.

Icons are a Universal Language

With the design, you can accomplish so much through the effective deployment of strong visual elements. It doesn't matter what language you speak. We can communicate and completely understand each other with visual cues. Icons are a great example of this.

Everyone unconsciously interacts with symbols and icons every day. They are a design element capable of conveying a message that is universally understood. As a result, they are incredibly powerful tools for user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers. Icons can add to the aesthetic value, engage a user’s curiosity and encourage experimentation.

Functional + Familiar = Useful

Users should not have to decode the meaning of icons. An icon must be immediately understandable without labels or additional explainers. The icons we use every day have accumulated meaning over time and maintain meaning through their context. Designers of digital icons must be aware that for an icon to be useful, it has to be both familiar and functional.

Icons are Inclusive

Icons are a common visual vocabulary that means that anyone from any walk of life should understand their meaning. Everyone knows that a red heart icon is meant to communicate love. Similarly, we all know that an icon with a smiling face is intended to share happiness. One of the reasons icons are a powerful design tool is because they are so inclusive.

Functional Icons

Icons can be found everywhere in everyday life. They are often used to guide public places like airports, stations, parks, and shopping malls. Available icons are a specific type of icons that are even more general and recognizable than the digital icons seen on phone and computer screens.

Solid vs. Outline Icons

So which icons should designers use to ensure a great UX? And how do solid and outline icons compare?

In general, the effectiveness of an icon relates to how quickly a user can recognize the icon and understand its meaning. When creating an icon, there are plenty of elements with which you can experiment, including dynamics, color, space, shape, and texture. For solid icons, you can utilize all of these elements, whereas, with an outline icon, you can only experiment with shape and space to make something that connects with users.

Are Solid Icons More Recognizable?

Research had shown that, in general, solid icons were more instantly recognizable than outline icons, mainly when those icons represented an identifiable item from the real world. A solid icon is usually a more accurate representation of the actual life item than an outline.

When to use Solid vs. Outline Icons?

Outline:

  • Use outline icons if you need to make subtle characteristic cues more noticeable
  • Use outline icons if you have information along the edges of the icon that you want to highlight
  • Use outline icons if the design is simple and they are no elements within the icon that need to be distinguished

Solid:

  • Use solid icons to represent physical, real-world objects
  • Use solid icons to represent the work done by a physical object
  • Use solid icons to make characteristic cues and details on icons easier to identify
  • Use solid icons if you want to highlight a particular color

Overall, for icons that aim to express the exact meaning of the original subject, it is usually best to make them solid. On the other hand, for icons that have abstract or loosely defined meanings, then hollow or outline icons are often better. There are various ways to make your icons eye-catching and appropriate in both cases. In the end, the type of icon that designers will create and use will depend on the ultimate purpose of that icon, the brand' how effectively a user can understand its meaning.

To learn more about how you can effectively use icons to improve your user experience feel free to contact our UX experts.


The Ideal UX Process: UX Strategy vs UX Design

The role of user experience (UX) designers continues to broaden and encompass more responsibilities. There is often, therefore, a pressing need for UX strategies that provide well-defined goals, a logical roadmap, and helpful guidelines. So what comprises the ideal UX strategy? And how do the stages of UX strategy and UX design compare? First, let's take a brief look at how a typical UX process works and how strategy and design deliver a great final product. 

What is the UX process? 

The UX process is a collection of stages that any product, software, service, website, or app has to be ready and optimized for the end-user. The process can encompass everything from interface design to usability testing and can take a couple of weeks to a couple of years. Often the UX process will flow from one stage to another, e.g., from Research to Strategy to Design to Testing. Each step will help create, measure, and refine the user experience to ensure it is standard. 

What is UX design? 

UX design is the stage where the design team creates software, products, or services that provide users with a great experience. The design team aims to create something relevant and necessary that stands above the designs of their competitors. UX design will involve consideration of many aspects, including branding, function, usability, integration, and, most obviously, design. 

What is UX strategy? 

A UX strategy is a plan that sets how the UX team intends to refine and tailor the user's experience to ensure a satisfying outcome in line with the company's overall goals and objectives. UX strategy will usually occur after the research for the product, service, website, app, or software has been completed, but the designs have been built. The difference between UX design and UX strategy is their time during the UX process, the personnel used, and the objectives. The design stage becomes easier when you have a detailed and well-planned UX strategy.

When creating a UX strategy, team members will brainstorm, produce customer journey maps, develop wireframes, high-fidelity mockups, and conceptualize the user flow. A successful UX strategy will be the result of a combination of Human Elements (stakeholders, developers, engineers, and designers), Informational Elements (data, customer feedback, user interviews, and competitor research), and Desired Outcomes (design criteria, features, success metrics, and functionality).

What UX tools can you use to define UX strategy? 

Once you have an idea of how you want to pursue your UX strategy, you have to decide which tools you need to accomplish your tasks. Here is a list of the most common UX tools that can all be used to define a business-facing UX strategy:

Stakeholder interviews 

This can be the key to understanding everyone's needs. Stakeholder interviews allow you to determine the project's goals and consider all the relevant factors. 

User interviews

 User interviews will allow you to appreciate the impact of the user experience and enable teams to strategize in a way that considers a variety of users. You can follow an evaluative approach or inferential approach, and both will bring you one step close to understanding your user. 

Prototyping tools 

Prototyping tools will help clarify the UX requirements and maximize your UX process's design potential. These tools will help you delve into the details and emerge with a well-thought-through UX. 

Competitive analysis tool

Understand your competitor. A comprehensive competitive analysis tool that looks at your rival's products, websites, and software will ensure that you can gain a competitive edge. 

Google's HEART framework

This is a sophisticated tool for understanding and improving the UX of any product. HEART stands for Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, and Task Success. This helps teams approach UX from several angles and provides designers with several useful metrics for success. It has helped Google succeed, and many other companies will also benefit from implementing the framework. 

Sector expert interviews

 Gather as much relevant information from experts as possible. This is particularly helpful if designing a product, service, or software for an unfamiliar industry. 

Concept maps

 Visualize the UX team's models during the design process. Concept maps are a simple tool that can be relied on even when dealing with complex technical phases. These tools can form part of the UX process and help define a comprehensive UX strategy. Of course, the ideal UX process will differ from one company to the next, but using these kinds of tools will be expected throughout various successful UX teams. 

How do you create the ideal UX Process? Learn about UX strategy, why it's important, how it compares to UX Design, and the UX tools you can use to succeed. Get in touch with our UX experts to learn more about crafting the ideal UX process and how UX works at Radiant. 

 


What Is Iterative Design?

Iterative design is a design methodology based on a cyclical approach of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product at any stage of the design process. You can think of iterative design as a rapid and repetitive trial-and-error process intended to deliver a product that meets user goals and expectations. How users say they behave with a digital product versus how they behave is rarely the same. The iterative design recognizes this by laying a framework for product teams to develop a prototype quickly and then test it with real-world users to determine what they do with the product.

When to use the iterative design?

Designers can apply an iterative approach at any stage of the product development process. Organizations can even introduce or adopt iterative design even if a product has already been shipped to market, especially if they’re looking to make improvements. However, the earlier iterative design is implemented in the product lifecycle, the more likely the product can meet user objectives and expectations. Further, it’s also more likely that the design process can be more cost-effective and achieve faster time to market.

What is a non-iterative approach?

The Waterfall model is the most common non-iterative process wherein each project phase (e.g., discovery, conceptualization, design, development, testing, launch) must be completed in its entirety before moving on to the next one. In a non-iterative approach, as in the waterfall model, teams emphasized the planning phase more than the execution process — documenting everything in advance, such as the user interface, user stories, and all features and variations. Non-iterative methods require more time during the conceptualization and creation phase, aiming for the product to work as intended during testing.

Requirements and resources are typically locked after project planning, and teams avoid project modifications as much as possible. Typically, teams design and develop a final product with the minimal exploration of new ideas along the way. Non-iterative design processes can be challenging because it doesn’t allow time and space for unknowns and surprises and the necessary adjustments to address them.

What are the benefits of iterative design?

Companies and organizations of all shapes and sizes have lauded adopting an iterative approach to their design and development processes. Here are the key benefits of iterative design:

● Efficiency: By working on products in quick sprints, teams can adjust their products in each iteration rather than rework an entire design as new insights or feedback emerge. Further, workload among team members can be spread out more evenly throughout the development lifecycle.

● Progress visibility: Iterative design gives product stakeholders visibility of a project’s progress at the end of each iteration.

Collaboration: Designers can generate feedback from clients and stakeholders based on the results from each iteration. An iterative process draws better engagement from them as they can see the evolution of the project and that the design team is meeting their requirements rather than “dumping” a finished product on them.

● Eliminates confusion: The repetitive or cyclical nature of iterative design enables rapid resolution of misunderstandings or disorders within the project team as early as possible. Further, teams can detect flaws in the design, architecture, code, and other implementations with each iteration, severely impacting the product if left undetected.

● Ability to work in parallel: Unlike non-iterative methodologies such as the waterfall method, the iterative process decreases dependence on the work that comes in previous phases. Team members can work on several parts of a project in parallel, leading to faster time to market.

● Usability: Iterative design keeps users at the heart of the process, with each iteration ideally based on user research, behavior, and feedback. For instance, testing and debugging in smaller or faster iterations can identify defects or flaws early in the design process, with target users providing insight in each iteration.

● Continuous improvement: Each iteration enables design teams to incorporate lessons learned from previous runs giving the final product the best chance to meet customer expectations.

● Cost-effective: Changes arising from an iterative approach are likely to be less costly than in a Waterfall approach. Since modifications are common in product development, discovering them at the earliest possible stage makes it easier for organizations to adjust their resources.

Examples of iterative design

Here are some familiar examples of iterative design:

● Iteration during product development: Engineering teams apply an iterative approach in developing new features, implementing bug fixes, and A/B testing new strategies. It’s not uncommon for engineering teams to create a few promising versions, then test them out with users. They’ll note good and bad user experiences and then continue building the iteration that tested the best.

● Wikis: With user-generated content, anyone can write new entries or improve existing ones. Reviewers or editors then decide whether new content passes specific standards or whether the changes made improve the content. Users expect this iteration system in sites like Wikipedia to present the best available information on any given topic over time.

● Urban design: Urban designers see 10-year plans made by local governments as strategies and principles. Urban designers execute new ideas at a small scale and gather feedback before expanding their programs for implementation. For instance, they may try a living street design for one year before scaling them either at the exact location or in another area.

Good design requires iteration.

Iterative design enables product designers to build and test products quickly. As a result, features and functionalities that resonate with users can be improved further while those can’t be soon abandoned or modified. The iterative process is an efficient design approach, which puts user experience at the heart of product development.

Will you be working on a project that can benefit from iterative design? Reach out to our experts at Radiant Digital to learn more about our product design and development process.


Wireframe, Mockup, and Prototype: What’s the difference?

To the uninitiated, wireframes, mockups, and prototypes appear to be synonymous. They’re used interchangeably by the layperson and understandably so. But for product and design folks in the digital space, these differentiated outputs serve different requirements. Wireframing, mockuping, and prototyping are processes in the early stages of product development, especially the web, mobile, and native applications. In this context, they’re typically defined as follows:

● A wireframe is a quick sketch of a product intended to convey its desired functionalities.

● A mockup is a realistic design of a product designed to gather feedback on its visual elements.

● A prototype is an interactive simulation of a product designed to test the user experience.

It’s worth noting that diving into each step is not a straightforward box-ticking activity. Instead, these are problem-solving exercises that entail consensus-building, testing, and iteration, among others. For instance, product teams leverage design thinking methods to bring out user-centric approaches throughout the product development process.

Wireframes

Wireframes are basic, black and white renderings that focus on what the features and functionalities are intended to do. For example, a low-fidelity user interface representation depicts how information is structured and which content is grouped. Wireframing is far from drawing up meaningless sets of grey boxes, although they may appear that way. Instead, as the first scratch of a project, wireframes are ideally accompanied with brief notes to explain vital visual elements and how they interact with each other. A wireframe is rarely deployed as a testing material but helps build consensus and gather early feedback. These may even be deployed for guerilla-style research where initial insights suffice and methodological rigor is not yet essential.

Mockups

Taking off from wireframes, a mockup would then incorporate design choices, particularly color, font, and icons. Designers often include content to approximate the final output, even if these are placeholder text and photos. Visually, the ideal mockup should resemble the intended look and feel of any given digital product. Mockups remain a static output, but UX designers should solicit feedback regarding its visual components and aesthetic qualities. These are also particularly helpful in solidifying buy-in and support from high-level decision-makers, mainly clients and management, by dazzling them with what the outcome could eventually look like.

Prototypes

A prototype may or may not exactly look like the final product, but it should simulate the intended experience. It needs to be stressed that the heart of prototyping lies in user testing. Letting sample users navigate through the interface informs development teams how to enhance user experience better. As veteran UX designers and product teams know too well, prototyping is about observing what users do and not about what they say they’re going to do. In this process, the interface may not yet be linked with backend mechanisms. This enables product teams to test user experience before allowing the developers or engineers to begin their work. Interactivity can be tested with various tools without needing code. Product teams may also do some preliminary A/B testing to compare two different versions of a prototype to assess which one performs better.

Wireframes and mockups present to stakeholders how a product looks and how it should work. On the other hand, prototypes demonstrate how it works.

Wireframe Mockup Prototype
Purpose To develop and gain consensus on product functionalities To collect feedback on visual elements To collect feedback by testing user experience
Visual elements Black, white, and grey boxes that present structure Must incorporate colors, fonts, icons, and all design elements Visual elements must be interactive and demonstrate navigation
Design fidelity Low Medium to High High
Interactivity Static Static Dynamic or interactive
Time and cost invested Low Middle High
Creator Product team, project manager, and UX designer UX designer UX designer and/or developer

Is it necessary to wireframe, mockup, and prototype - and in that order?

This is an ongoing debate; product teams have the ways they have settled into. Resources and time play a significant role in any development process. Some projects can afford to do this step by step and take their time to iterate their wireframes, mockups and even conduct well-structured prototyping studies and experiments. And even then, the envisioned product is not necessarily assured even when product teams commit to all these three design processes as ideally conceived. In other cases, after producing well-designed wireframes or medium-fidelity designs, some teams opt to do prototyping first, even before finalizing their fully designed mockups. It’s also not uncommon for projects with tight deadlines to do their prototyping with an interface already coded by their developers.

Early-stage product development is a dynamic process, each with its unique dependencies, circumstances, and limitations. Even the UX tools and applications at hand influence the design process. Professionals in this space are already well-versed with prototyping tools such as Balsamiq MockupsAxurePidocoPenultimate, and Jutinmind. These tools allow designers and product teams to create, edit and collaborate on wireframes and mockups. Some of these even extends to the creation of interactive prototypes.

Method to the Madness

Designing and developing products, incredibly complex and highly technical applications, is sometimes at its most daunting in the early stages. Wireframing, mockuping, and prototyping are methods to this seeming madness. Product teams, clients, stakeholders, and users can more easily break down the design process into digestible phases allowing for better engagement in the development of the product.

Will you be working on a project that requires careful and deliberate consideration for the user’s experience? Reach out to our experts at Radiant Digital to learn more about our product design and development process.


Understanding the Designer-Developer Collaboration to make UX Designing Frictionless

In the UX design world, the contributions of designers and developers are equally essential to shaping its success. Good design is not always about the product but the process leading to it. As experts say, when developers and designers work together, magic happens. But this magic can manifest into great designs only if the existing collaborative gaps between these two groups of experts are closed sooner than later. Designers should not limit themselves to sharing specifications, assets, interactions, mockups, etc., with developers. These two professionals must share a common objective that is an exceptional user experience for design intent. Design clarity must be integral to ideation, mockup, wireframing, and prototyping. Finding an optimum solution becomes easier when designers and developers communicate well and collaborate even better. They must strive to educate each other better and learn at the same time. Cross-functional knowledge and a dynamic approach are pivotal to a great collaboration. As remote collaboration is the new way of working today, we’ve moved from colorful post-its to email reminders and whiteboard sessions to video calls.  Therefore, designers and developers must accustom themselves to better and powerful ways of collaborating and communicating. This blog gives you insights into the challenges of designer-developer collaboration and tips on how to improve it.

What is designer-developer collaboration?

Aaron Walters of InVision states, "Designers and developers probably have more in common than they realize."  Designer-Developer collaboration describes a relationship with a shared understanding and objective of producing high-quality and functional UX designs. While designers only think about design systems, developers need to focus on simplifying modular code. But the way the processes are executed may be slightly different. This is where a common ground for collaboration and communication helps. They could use various collaboration tools during different phases or take advantage of other collaboration mechanisms mentioned in this blog. Before we delve deeper, let us highlight the benefits of seamless designer-developer collaboration.

  • Designers and developers can gain familiarity with the design, processes, and other person's ways of working, which helps them contribute to tasks more effectively.
  • With a common strategy, design, and execution, both teams can decrease their learning curves and deliver faster.
  • It helps create a healthy and conducive collaborative environment where team members can take complete ownership of their work.
  • Collaboration provides new learning experiences to implemented individual tasks. This enriches their thought processes and improves project engagement.
  • Working as a close-knit team helps nurture a healthy working environment, improve problem-solving, and lead to more valuable contributions.
  • Revenue goals are met faster if there is no blame game and deliverables are rolled out more quickly without compromising quality.

The advantages mentioned above help address the following collaboration pain points. It is often difficult for designers to work with developers and vice versa because of distinct backgrounds, mindsets, and approaches, leading to ego clashes or stalled work. Both designers and developers may need to work together and complete projects such as website designs, product interfaces, mobile app revamp, and digital marketing campaigns. However, despite working together, there is always some disconnect between the two teams. Here are some role-based pain points that both teams need to address for seamless collaboration and positive results.

  • Design is about aesthetics and dimensions, while development is about functionality, usability, and scalability.
  • Designers shape the product while developers bring them to life. A lack of understanding about the intent of a design causes disparities, misunderstandings, and disagreements.
  • Design is about the finer details, and developers have an eye for detail. If elements and features are undiscussed with the developers, the result is a product disaster.
  • Unnecessary back and forth loops take place due to a lack of cross-domain understanding. This wastes a lot of bandwidth and delays the QA process.
  • Design is evolving, and the lack of constant updates can put teams behind and cause confusion instead of clarity.

Challenges in designer-developer collaboration

Despite being critical players in UX design, designers and developers often remain isolated and siloed with limited communication. This raises the following challenges.

Variation in time evaluation: UX designing cannot be done overnight. Designers need to consider layout, user interface, design aesthetics, user experience, and much more. However, designers commonly make haphazard and wrong time estimations leading to a time crunch for developers to build these designs.

Inclusion of developers towards the end: Involving the development team when the process is done leads to complex, chaotic processes and severe setbacks.

Lack of mutual consideration: From the kick-off to the delivery stage, designers' planning that includes defining timelines, tasks, design, development, and collaboration methods usually does not involve the developer's point-of-view. Similarly, developers rarely pitch in designers when they develop prototypes and get them tested. This leads to disagreements and significant rework later.

Misconceptions about UX design work: For many developers, design work is perceived as an extra burden. This comes from a lack of understanding of the science behind UX design. Making an aesthetic and helpful interface must include multiple prototypes to understand the designer's perspective as well.

Muddled communication: Good communication is the foundation of a great UX design. Effective communication eases the process and the road to the final product. Unfortunately, most designers and developers draw a line between their teams and don't practice the proper communication techniques. While developers are bound to talk technicalities and code specifics, the designers prefer talking about creative ideas and the beauty of the design. This causes misunderstandings and process slowdown.

Wrong implementation due to misunderstood design or complex handover: A design handoff occurs when the design and prototypes have been tested and are being handed off to developers to start coding. A complicated or unclear handover is a developer's worst nightmare. And writing a novel-length specifications PDF is not ideal either. Using collaborative tools during different phases of design development is highly beneficial.

Ways to Improve communication

Experts recommend the following tips to improve designer-developer communication.

Kick-off meetings: These icebreaker meetings must take place between designers, developers, and clients. This way, vague discussions and conversations are avoided to obtain clarity. For example, designers should not hold back explaining the exact design to the developers. Similarly, developers must coordinate with designers to replicate their designers in the best way. Kick-offs help exchange visions of design and development, communicate the challenges, and derive solutions.

Avoiding assumptions and talking about processes: Designers and developers have their respective product assumptions. Both teams should start communicating earlier and zero in on the core problem or requirement to avoid discrepancies. Also, developers must clear their doubts about design to come up with the best solutions. Effort estimations and plan B must be discussed openly and confirmed mutually. This saves the time spent is unraveling mysteries and course corrections later in the design process.

Frequent testing and designer feedback: Designers must prepare sketches or virtual prototypes and continuously share them with the developers for feasibility study and feedback. Similarly, developers must focus on user experience improvements, frequent user testing, and design validation from designers. They need to measure the design usability from the designers' point of view. Tools like zipBoard, Notable, and Usabilla are handy for this.

Unleash the common framework: Designers and developers often use different frameworks for a joint project based on their requirements. Since these frameworks differ significantly, it usually leaves both departments frustrated. Common frameworks like Bootstrap are now available to help developers and designers stay synchronized and rapidly build web applications or websites. Adapting to a common framework helps reduce complexities while saving time and effort.

Making each other's lives easier

What should designers do?

  • Reuse design components and views when possible.
  • Maintain color palettes, design elements, icons, etc., uniformly to reduce distractions.
  • Utilize grids and breakpoints to improve design responsiveness when it is coded.

What should developers do?

  • Understand design intent and motivations and put them into practice.
  • Gain essential knowledge about graphic design and participate actively in design discussions.
  • Engage in design brainstorming sessions to clarify what can be developed and what can't.
  • Try and evaluate the evolving design from a functional viewpoint to reduce rework and delays.

Proven ways to improve collaboration 

Common focus on the end-user: Following a common goal like user experience through usability testing helps designers and developers perform better and empathize. The Nielsen Norman Group gives us a checklist on usability testing for both designers and developers.

Collaborate from the beginning: A recent study by the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Oulu in Finland concluded that early collaboration leads to:

  • Fewer chances of producing inferior products
  • Greater satisfaction for the end-user with regards to functionality and usability
  • Room for improved solutions and

Standardize operations and processes: A standardized order of operations and processes helps speed up work and steer clear of any miscommunication. Clarity on the common oversights like naming conventions, sizes, margins, paddings, etc., for designers and developers, helps reduce logistical issues. When it comes to systems and processes, a thorough checklist can help teams stay focused, take ownership, and complete crucial tasks before moving on to the next design development phase.

Frequent check-ins: This does not mean micro-management but ensuring that all the stakeholders are on the same page regarding the project progression. By having frequent check-ins between designers and developers, you're able to keep the project moving along by removing communication and interpretation bottlenecks.

Implementing collaboration tools 

Developers often wait on the design team to deliver sample designs and then proceed with the development. This method is simply not practical. Tools like Zeplin and InVision improve collaboration efforts with better transparency and direction. In addition, collaboration tools can be used in different phases of design development. Here are some excellent tools both designers and developers can use.

Mockplus cloud is an all-in-one collaboration and handoff tool for designers and developers to prototype, collaborate, and handoff designs in one place. The features include:

  • Design imports with assets from Sketch, Photoshop, Adobe XD, and Figma.
  • Upload prototypes from Justinmind, Axure, Mockplus, and documents.
  • Create UI flows and interactive prototypes using drag-and-drop.
  • Comment, test, review, and iterate designs with simple clicks.
  • Inspect, copy and download design specifications, assets, and code.

Zeplin is a design handoff tool that helps translate your designs into CSS, Swift, Android, Objective-C, or React Native code while also exporting layers and marked assets. The key features include:

  • Integrates with Sketch, Figma, Photoshop, Jira, Slack, and Trello.
  • Generates RGB and HEX values for your designs.
  • Provides buttons, layers, and icons with marked assets.
  • Supports iOS, Android, and web platforms.

Cage is an online media collaboration tool that allows designers and developers to share and present workflows for creative review. Cage helps you plan and complete projects with a unique mix of tools. With all of your team's tasks, discussions, files, and activities in a single location, the status of projects and team performances are transparent on this platform. The core features include:

  • Access controls and permissions.
  • Communication Management.
  • Content management.
  • Comments and feedback.
  • Third-party integrations.
  • File sharing.
  • Drag and -drop.

Invision provides insightful feedback through clickable design prototypes on native devices. It prevents the need for static PDFs or oversized sitemap-style documents. Instead, real-time comments and feedback help designers and developers resolve issues sooner. The other features include:

  • Link sharing to view designs in the browser or on a mobile device.
  • Real-time screen-sharing of projects and meeting with LiveShare.
  • Conversation organization around design component specifics using threaded comments.
  • Daily feedback emails, comment feeds Sort by date, screen, read, unread, and more, activity feeds and follow-ups.
  • Password protection for designs.
  • Easy browser, drag and drop, and automatic sync through Dropbox integration.
  • Upload PNG, JPG, PDF, or GIF files for feedback using any low and high-fidelity designs design tool.

Bitrix24 is a collaboration workspace that helps handle daily operations & tasks. It is used primarily for CRM, Project Management & Collaboration in the Cloud or on-premise. The key features include:

  • Collaboration (chats, polls, stream messages, telephony integration, voice & video calls).
  • CRM (leads, contacts, invoices, web forms, deals, sales reports automation, open channels integration, website widget).
  • Project Management (tasks, subtasks with Kanban, dependency management, recurring tasks & task time-tracking).
  • Document Management (file storage & sharing, data synchronization and integrations, and workflows for document library).
  • Time Management (task time automatic calculation & summary, reports, shared calendars).

Mural offers a dynamic and virtual environment to share and visualize design ideas. In addition, it helps run productive meetings and workshops in public and private modes. The key features include:

  • Easy integrations with Dropbox, Slack, GitHub, and other productivity tools.
  • Built-in and ready-to-use templates.
  • Enterprise dashboards for performance management, insights, and controls.
  • Security protocols, versatile safeguards, and global standards.
  • Frameworks to organize content and gain design insights.
  • Drag-and-drop images and GIFs.
  • Free-hand sketching.
  • Build visual stories using icon libraries.
  • Shapes and connectors for building diagrams and mapping complex workflows.
  • Sticky notes and text for ideas, thoughts, and feedback.

Red Pen is an effective feedback tool that helps designers with constructive criticism on a project. It lets you drag and drop designs into your dashboard and invite specific developers or clients to share their thoughts in real-time as you roll out your latest updates. In addition, red Pen helps keep track of multiple versions, so you don't lose earlier designs. The key features include:

  • Point-and-click to provide feedback.
  • Live comments.
  • Sharing a private link to a collaborator for feedback.
  • Drag states, screens, and alternatives to do a project.
  • Version tracking and instant change status updates.

Five foundational principles of designer-developer collaboration

  1. The developer is your user: Your user will interact with the final product built by developers, based on the design handoff you give.
  2. The only certainty is change: Design needs to be flexible and scalable, depending on the changing needs of your end-user.
  3. Design must evolve at every step: As a designer, your work will never be done. So expect use cases and questions from the team while development is ongoing.
  4. Less is more: When visionary German designer Dieter Rams says less is better, you listen.
  5. Find your passion and go with it: Empathy and focus are at the helm of a good product design.

Questions designers should ask developers

Before creating your artboard, ask these questions to your development team for better clarity.

What handoff tools are we using? Ensure you and the developer are on the same page for tools based on project needs and team strengths. This will ease the production process.

What asset management strategy are we using? Asset management helps track the components, files, tools, frameworks, and software used in the design process. Clarity and direction in this regard save a lot of frustration.

Do we follow a particular file-naming convention? Many handoff tools do not auto-generate design layer class names. Discussing naming protocols early will save a lot of confusion later.

Do the frameworks/libraries we use put constraints on design/technology? Having an in-depth understanding of Android components and material design will prevent unsolicited rework. Using responsive grids for Sketch artboards based saves a lot of implementation headaches.

How to depict states, micro-interactions, or animations? Interaction design and states are highly dependent. Therefore, developers need to be briefed in the early stages of production, aligning with their individualistic approach.

Outcomes of effective collaboration

  • Gaining familiarity with internal teams, expectations, and processes.
  • Overcoming fears, gaining clarity and confidence in delivering exceptional designs.
  • Learning cross-functional practices that can impact design or development workflows.
  • Establishing a good work culture and rapport to improve performances.
  • Aligning on the end vision.

Retrospective

Today, technology-based collaboration is the cornerstone of any organizational success. This is no different for designers and developers. However, these two teams often find it hard to reconcile and enable frictionless collaboration. Therefore, it is essential to bridge any communication gaps that hamper an excellent product from becoming a great product. On the brighter side, designers are spending significant time on developer collaboration tools with an engineering mindset. While engineers use tools like InVision to inspect design elements, check specifications, and break down the design system to more specific coding elements.

Are designer-developer collaboration issues impacting your enterprise performance?  Connect with the experts at Radiant Digital to adopt the most suitable collaboration techniques for your organization.