Interaction designers: how well do you work with developers and content designers?

I used to be a frontend developer.

I think there are broadly 2 types of frontend developer.

The first type prefers to be given a spec to follow and that’s that.

The second type has more of an interest in how well the UI ends up actually working for users.

If they’re handed something that can cause usability and accessibility issues, then they might push back and offer altnerative solutions.

I was the second type.

So I would push back.

But I think that most designers I worked with saw me as a developer and nothing more so only occasionally took onboard my comments.

A11y shma11y.

I don’t think this situation is unique to developers though.

A friend of mine is a content designer.

She’s great at words but she’s way more than that. She’s a good designer, who thinks about the end to end journey.

She’s told me about how some of the designers she’s worked with, often treat her as an afterthought.

Someone to improve the words after the designer has done the flow, the form fields and some close-to-finished words.

But remember how I said there were 2 types of developer?

There are also 2 types of content designer.

The first type likes to be told what to write and they focus on those words.

The second type looks at content and design as inseparable work partners and wants to be involved throughout because good content can avoid bad interactions.

So what do we do?

Looking back I think I could have been clearer to the designers on my team about how I like to work, what value I think I can provide.

That way I might have had the opportunity to provide feedback earlier in the design process.

Instead I received finished designs, and then gave unsolicited feedback.

That must have been annoying no matter how good my suggestions were (not saying they were but let’s imagine they were).

And I think if I was a designer who had mostly worked with the first type of content designer, I might accidentally start to assume all content designers like working that way.

Working with other people is hard but I think it’s so important to understand the strengths and preferences of your team mates.

That way you get the most out of each other and so do our users.