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Here's the problem:

We have interactive designers who output interactive wireframes (depicting interactions / states).

We have copy writers who output copy based on wireframes.

We have visual designers who output psd (colors, fonts, images) based on wireframes.

Developers receive all these different files. Often confused where the source of truth is. Often overlooking some things.

Do others have this problem? How can we address this issue and ensure that the final product is as-intended?

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You need to assign one key figure ( Project Manager ) who communicates with all of the departments, otherwise you will always be running into the same issue to some degree. Utilizing team management softwares such as basecamp, asana, slack etc...will help streamline the process but ideally you will need one key figure that is aware of what is going on on all fronts and communicates with either the president or the clients directly for updates, then allocates those to the appropriate department.

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    Exactly this, embrace the chaos. As a development company we work with our clients to help with scoping but we almost never get a complete picture and meetings aren't normally that helpful, because designs and approvals can be in a state of flux through the project. Having 1 contact person on each side that can clarify, be organised and ask for feedback is key. – Kit Sunde Nov 1 '15 at 15:54
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My first-order solution is putting all the relevant people involved in product development (interaction designers, developers, copy writers, graphic designers, etc.) in the same room together.

Then having them talk to each other.

In my experience this sort of thing is almost never a tool problem. It's a process/communication problem.

The most direct solution to process/communication problems is getting everybody together and encouraging them to use their words ;-)

  • True, I totally l agree, but I guess I should elaborate. Where does the source of truth live? What does QA test against? Maybe the problem is that we are not truly agile, and the designers, copy writers and graphic designers are all shared resources not working for any development team. – leex1080 Aug 30 '15 at 21:31
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Yes, that's why you need to have frequent meetings during the whole project and discuss the sketches, wireframes, flows etc with the developers and ask for their input. The best solution is to sit together (the whole team) so you could just chat with each other. That way they will understand better what you want to build. Heavy annotated wireframes documents are so highly overrated and takes way longer to produce than a verbal explanation.

During the implementation phase of the project you'll need to keep talking to each other. There will be missunderstandings.

I would recommend you to read the book Lean UX that deals with a lot of the problems you describe. Here's a great summary.

If it's not possible to talk to the developers during the design process you'll need create a hand off document with all of your stuff and at least one brief meeting.

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As mentioned by Tony and adrianh already, the best way would be to get everybody together to do a kickoff and discuss the requirements.

If this is difficult to do because people belong to different teams, then request your requirements to be delivered as a single versioned document.

E.g.

  • Doc starts as out with just the wireframe
  • Interaction Designer annotates the doc with interaction notes. If certain behaviour are too difficult to describe in words, reference to a prototype
  • Copy writer also annotates the doc (use a different color/symbol if you'd like) e.g. "C-1.1" over content elements, and again referenced to the relevant section in their word doc
  • Visual Designer then replaces/overlays the page mockups on top of the wireframe. Make sure all the annotations are brought over during the process
  • Each time an update is made, track it as a new version and a quick message should be sent to these 3 people so they can quickly scan to make sure everything still make sense after the change.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Note: Having a commonly available and easily editable document is key in making sure things remain up to date. I prefer something like Omnigraffle for this from the sense that you can have multiple pages within the doc for various screens, layers on a page for annotation vs mock, easy copying and pasting of images & text and quick export out to PDF for easy sharing. (There's probably other tools out there with similar functionalities)

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