Spot the edge cases
It’s hard to predict all the different edge cases and unique logic a design might have when you’re just mocking something up. Instead of leaving engineers to deal with edge cases when they’re implementing, work with them to determine what they are and how you’ll solve for them.
Early on, I’ll create and share a “design explorations” doc with wireframes, workflows, or low-fidelity mockups. Engineers will pepper the doc with questions around micro-interactions, empty states, error messages, etc. — things I usually haven’t thought about yet. With these questions in mind, I’m able to account for an extra level of detail in the next iteration.
Own communication, don’t expect it
In the implementation phase, good communication ensures that great design makes its way into the product. Instead of waiting for engineers to communicate about their progress, set up opportunities for that to happen.
On larger projects, slice a project into smaller one-week or two-week milestones. While this might take a lot more work upfront, it creates accountability. It also forces everyone to check in without having communication fall into any one person’s responsibility.
Because the Paper Growth team works on experiments, their projects usually have a timeline of one to two weeks of design work and one to two weeks for engineering work. With a small scope and short timelines, the team avoids long communication drop-offs. Try modeling larger projects the same way to reduce the risk of radio silence.
Carve out time to share
Make a regular habit out of sharing designs that are works-in-progress at team meetings. Also encourage engineers to demo if they’re able to get something working ahead of time.
Anbu Anbalagapandian, an engineering manager, created a bi-weekly meeting for sharing designs. The engineers on her team were excited by getting a sneak peek into what they’d be working on in the future. The meetings also gave designers time to collect feedback from the team.
Just sit down together!
Take the initiative to stop by an engineer’s desk or schedule an informal work session. These reduce back and forth and build the habit for check-ins outside of meetings.
Across the board, both designers and engineers on the Paper team found informal check-ins to be helpful. One way they did this was to both sit down at a computer together and walk through the implementation.
Don’t forget the final mile
The design process isn’t over just because you’re no longer mocking up or prototyping. Getting across the finish line means making sure that what’s built is high quality and that everyone understands the value of doing so.