Sparked by the question “How do you interact with developers as a UI designer?” on Quora.

“Respect” is a good place to start.

If you have the tech fluency and understanding of dev process, then frame your usability agenda in those terms (just as you would frame it in appropriate terms for marketing and business stakeholders).

Understand This…

You’re outnumbered

The UX role is usually just one person. And usually powerless.

So, be an Ambassador

In many ways, as the ‘designated generalist’ on the team, you serve as a liaison among the other ‘cultures’ in the workgroup; advocating and translating, with a focus on usability and customer centricity. You must learn – and speak – these cultural languages:

  • Technical
  • Marketing
  • Business

Of these, techSpeak is usually the one that requires the most work.

You don’t need to become a programmer, but fluency – or at least familiarity – is well worth the effort.

Put it in writing

That communication role means that you may also be able to document shared information, thereby enhancing your ability advocate for user-centric solutions (and also reconcile inevitable territoriality and scheduling issues).

A document goes a long way towards reconciling potential barriers and issues – especially with the techTeam.

Demonstrate the Value Proposition

It’s true that the techTeam often views UX input as “extra work” which compromises already tight schedules and budgets. Remember that – if the product doesn’t come in on time or within budget – the techTeam gets the blame.

  • If you have techChops, then offer to create html templates, re-usable css files, graphics & icons, maybe even some javascript libraries
  • Define and advocate for Best Practices and re-purposeable components
  • Wise Workflow design may actually reduce the programming effort

So, frame your usability recommendations in terms of efficiency (and act on them)

Cultivate your allies

If you can forge a management relationship with the Technical Architect, it will go a long way towards …

  • improving your understanding the overall technical constraints, potential, and agenda
  • having a trusted tech advocate on your side when communicating with leadership stakeholders (as well as the tech implementation team)

Some of my most successful and satisfying techTeam engagements were when I was able to collaborate directly with a knowledgeable and talented programmer.

  • We were able to come up with viable solutions. Fast.
  • The usability solutions were already implicitly accepted by the techTeam. (No territorial squabbling.)

Collaboration is an Art … as well as a Science


… more …

Generalists: the Value Proposition

DesignThink : Collaboration

Social Networking Roles

the Full-Stack Unicorn Ninja

#collaboration (tag)


© The Communication Studio LLC