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I was recently a testimony of the clash existing between UX Designers and Frontend Developers within a same company. Each team, compromising about 10 to 20 employees each, mocked the other team's work. You know, in the line of "This UX people, spending hours to decide if a pixel goes here or here" or "Frontend guys don't know about creativity, we're always limited with their patterns."

In order to make more efficient design and development cycles those confronted feelings should be addressed. What are the common interests and bridges that can connect the gap between each other's conflicting needs?

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5  
which side you on? :) –  JOG Mar 23 '12 at 15:30
3  
Nerf gun fight. Definitely. Only partially joking. –  Ben Brocka Mar 23 '12 at 15:49
    
Yep, especially with mixed teams –  Cristol.GdM Mar 24 '12 at 13:44
    
@ben how to avoid conflicts, not how to have them –  Rahul Mar 24 '12 at 13:58
    
I am sure nerf gun fights actually have a lot of psychology behind it. We have a weekly review which I prefer to call the "official rant-about-your-colleagues day". It's on friday so you finish the week relaxed, huge idea. –  Naoise Golden Mar 25 '12 at 14:45

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The easiest way to fix it is make them the same people.

Hire people with both UX and development skills. Knowing code makes your UX better, because you know what is possible and what the impact of your UX decisions are. Knowing UX makes your code better, because you can prevent development decisions from compromising the experience. They're ultimately two parts of a single skillset, not separate disciplines.

If you can't do that (those individuals are rare and expensive), then you should pair people from the UX and UI dev team. Have them work directly together, with the UI dev collaborating on the UX work, and the UX specialist collaborating on the dev work. This will head off disputes, empower both sides, and they'll all learn something.

Anyone on the team that can't collaborate should probably be removed, since if they can't respect the value of the others' skills, they are a negative to your team, not a positive.

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2  
in favor of pairing –  Naoise Golden Mar 23 '12 at 18:54
2  
YES YES YES YES. Front End Dev is UX, afterall. UX should be delivering front end code. (admittedly, not an ideal solution in a lot of corporate settings unfortunately) –  DA01 Mar 26 '12 at 15:24
    
Agreed for the pairing part, but the "hire people who know how to do both" is a bit dangerous in my opinion.. It is already difficult enough to find UX jobs that don't require you to also be an experienced developer –  Cristol.GdM Mar 26 '12 at 18:19

From what I have experienced, it is rather a problem of team management than a problem specific to UX VS. Developers. Each company will have the risk of two teams being in a competition, whether it is the cooks VS. the dishwashers in a restaurant, the drivers VS. the mechanics in a bus company, etc.

Based on that, try to reduce group separation. Having common events is a great way to achieve that, for example a simple paintball match with mixed teams usually produce wonderful results. Social psychology has good examples of how to deal with these kinds of problems.

Apply it during everyday work life too, having people eat together, sharing offices, etc. Basically, you will be more efficient as a "Design & Development team" than as a "Design team" and "Development team".

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+1 for sober pov and acknowledging basic management and social psychology (over problems with individuals). –  JOG Mar 23 '12 at 16:14
    
While "team building" is an oft-chosen solution by management--and it certainly can help--typically people just want the org structure fixed so that team building happens at work. –  DA01 Mar 26 '12 at 15:25

Involve developers in the design process.

This helps developers understand what how and why the design is the way it is, and it helps the designers understand any technical limitations there may be and look to create a design which enables it.

It also helps create empathy amongst teams to understand what each other are working towards. There should be a fluid transition from the design to development if all key parties are involved in the process, it helps the process become more efficient, and solve problems earlier on rather than later when changes could be more time consuming and expensive.

I mentioned in another post about the design studio method by Todd Zaki Warfel we're using at our company, which is a great way to involve all members of a team in the design process.

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/20692513

Good luck!

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Though I like J. Jeffryes answer,my primary challenge with that is that not only are people who can code and design expensive,they dont really have time to focus on multiple tasks in parallel i.e. code and design at the same time.Also throw in the mix of having to attend UI reviews, usability testing sessions,code reviews and product management stuff and you will have someone who is just scraping through in trying to get his work done and wont be able to do his best in either field.

In my opinion both designers and developers should not be made the same person as there is a lack of respect for the skills they can individually bring and there is too much of an attempt to get too much done by one person.

That said,in my company we have a person designated as the UX program manager who is the liaison between the designers and the developers and helps in determining pain points and potential conflicts in terms of design as well as time management and potential issues in implementation (because a design was unfeasible).The designers are also encouraged to take up certifications or atleast have a decent knowledge of coding and are asked to sit in code reviews so that they can understand the challenges in implementation while the developers are required to sit in UI code reviews to understand the logic behind a design decision and to provide instantaneous feedback on the challenges involved in being able to implement a feature and the time expected.

We also try to keep these review meeting neutral (and sane) by having external to the project sit in who can provide unbiased inputs to both parties if needed.

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A good UX team has a mix of talents. Some will be specialists, some will be generalists. The key is to balance this mix. (I also argue that code is design a lot of the time, but not for every person...) –  DA01 Mar 26 '12 at 15:26

Ideal solution is that UX and Front End Dev aren't separate departments run by different managers and housed in different org charts.

How practical that solution is entirely dependent on your corporate structure. I find the bigger the corporate structure, the more segregation there is between each individual component of the process.

What happens where there is a strong delineation between UX and Dev is that UX tends to naturally migrate away from code completely. This can lead to UX creating solutions that are either slightly dated, or just impractical. And when there's this strong delineation, there also tends to be a strong want to continue with waterfall processes, meaning s*** rolls downhill...and Dev has to deal with what came from above.

If it front end dev simply can't be brought into UX, then the next best solution is to try and start adopting some of the key aspects of Agile development (or in UX terms, "lean UX") and that primarily involves CONSTANT interaction between UX and Dev. UX should be meeting with Dev almost daily going over new wireframes, flows, widgets, components, etc. This gives Dev a say prior to them having to commit. And UX will find that Dev can actually be quite helpful in pointing out technology solutions that may not have been considered without them.

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Another simpler approach is to have your developers and UX Designers pair up using agile development techniques will also prevent unnecessary debating between team members.

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Your suggestion is very vague. UX can be integrated into agile development but there're rather specific guidelines to follow. –  dnbrv Mar 24 '12 at 17:52
    
There's Agile and then there's agile. I think general agile philosophies (IE, COMMUNICATE) are good suggestions. I find specific Agile methodologies can work, but are entirely dependent on who's running them and how. –  DA01 Mar 26 '12 at 16:47

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