Partnering up Strategically

Roger Simmons

Partnering up with any design studio could be a difficult challenge. We set the tone with understanding the goals between the two parties and how to outline the desires, deliverables and expectations in the nicest way possible.

Your innerrelationships are the heat source of all creativity within a product. The bestadvice one can give, is to be open to new ideas and say yes. Generally, whenthere is confidence in the room, ideas will seem nonsensical. There may bepitches such as a crazy way to video your new product or perform a massivesocial media stunt, it might sound risky but jump in.


In regards tocrafting prototypes and digital products, therein lies unique circumstances forcreatives. Creatives are gifted in the fact that they can quickly imagine aproduct and prototype it. They tend to intertwine stories and fascinate aboutthe usability, the look, the feel. As this is a gift it is also a curse. Ourinner relationship with ourselves can be suffocating. We must on a daily basistest our products among sample groups. We must talk to potential clients and wehave to get out of our every day and meet new people.


Beyond ourselvescomes relationship building. Working with a team has said to be crucial forcreatives at every level. With the decision made to start a project or agencysolo or with a team there is consensus to have a partner. "Going in tofreelancing and working for yourself sounds really nice on paper, but I dothink that if you jump straight to it, you could possibly miss out on someopportunities afforded to you in working as part of a larger whole" saidJustin Mezzell continuing by suggesting that inner development will comenatural as you work with people.


Working with peoplehas its distinct hurdles. Working with the particular designer and developerrelationship may at times seem like your walking up Mount Everest. But whendevelopers and designers work in unison and form a unique bond, they can createmagic with their collective efforts. "It is crazy how much the developmentprocess can foster creativity", said Drew Wilson. Bradley Bussolini spokethe same about meeting his developer Anton, " We work really well togetherand together we have grown. I am lucky to have found someone that can advancemy creativity and together we challenge each other".



Conventionally,developers have a technical look at product development. Designer's recognizingthat there are many ways that products can be made and must be committed to thetime spent learning. It is been said that transparency between every particularfacet of the design must be highlighted. Using wire framing techniques, attimes are not enough.  


There are manyexclusions, but usually the mystery behind one group is like an enigmatic tothe other - nonetheless both the designers and developers will form a uniquerelationship together, fostering skills that the other needs to fill the void.As a baseline, breakthrough products always start out very simple, highlightingone or two features max. Designers at the beginning should make every effort tobuild sterile models that anybody could understand. From there its generallycertain that more than one designer and developer will contribute to the piece,whether its outsourcing or network cross-pollination. Going into any project atfirst should start with a simple prototype. Use arrows and prototyping toolssuch as Invision greatly advances the dialogue.



When it comes toapplying details consistently during your design phase, you’ll realize thatstyle guides are an admirable tool for developer and designer collaboration.Creating a style guide usually is completed during the beginning to the middleof the project, when creativity has flourished and it's time to producedeliverables. Developers will have a fast visual list to select from and canlevel speed up their product development.


Typically styleguides are shown to have a color palette, text, and maybe a logo. They readmore like a catalogue of brand assets, which is useful to a point. Rethinkingthe style guide to include product sketches, diagrams, highlighted keywords,photos, and cultural inspiration can not only foster conversation but canenhance "the why" in your project.


At this stage itsexciting. When creating the style guide, include the process work. Style guidesshould include the look and feel of the product sketched out. Maybe thisoccurred during a conversation between both the client or end users and thedeveloper. If so, include notes within it. The color pallets, form, diagrams,or (layout if digital) should start to bleed through along with any leaders orcallouts that describe function. Style guides with an immense amount ofdetails, will exhibit a great deal of work but in the work will come the startof the product, whether hardware or software. These guides can go from 4 pagesto 90 easily.



There are periodswhen a design appears like it will be sublime, but when it gets built, somepotential gap might occur. A developer must be able to recognize this and deferto the designer for their knowledge. Its normal for intense conversations tooccur during the design / development stage. Beforehand, conversations must bemade so that expectations are laid out. Doing this early on in the style guideprocess, diagrams, . During the scope of the assigned project both the designerand the developer should be in the mix. This can deliver remarkable feedback,ideas and insights, which can truly be valuable. Designers or Developersshouldn’t be scared to reach out each other or the client (if applicable) andtransparency throughout the project should be absolutely maintained. Regardlessof the project there are project collaboration tools out there that are free,such as Trello.



Both the designerand the developer are conveying together two of the very diverse skills andattributes that are likewise important. Designers and developers have differenttools and tactics that are unique to them. Focus on the skills that are uniqueto them and foster those out during every project. Push the boundaries of theother and make sure conversations are held that can promote the project notyour ego.

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Roger Simmons

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