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How can the developer and the graphic designer work together more effectively?

Today I’m going to answer a question from Joel, the cofounder of a B2B marketplace.  His question is:

How can the developer and the graphic designer work together more effectively?

Before answering this question, let’s add a bit of context.

Joel and his cofounder already developed the first version of their product. They are now developing their Version 2, and are considering outsourcing the graphic design to improve the user experience of their app.

The question they ask themselves is, how should they organize the development so that the designer and the developer could work effectively together?

In order to answer that question, here is what you need to understand:

How design is integrated

First, the designer will create the images. Then the CSS. The CSS is the “style” of the page, like the fonts, the colors, etc. And then comes the JavaScript, the language that will make things dynamic. Finally, the code. The code might be the HTML, PHP, Ruby on Rails, etc. Usually, the code is handled by the developer.

The designer’s role is to create the images and the CSS as well as work on the JavaScript.

The developer’s role in the meantime is to work on the HTML as well as the JavaScript.

The point is that they’re both going to work on the JavaScript development at the same time which can lead to conflicts (i.e. erasing each other’s work).

The key is to know where JavaScript is organized, help them identify the library to use, and above all, specify who is responsible for what.

Usually, the Web designer will deliver a static code that provides the desired interface. For example, “My First Heading.”

Then the developer will take that JavaScript code and modify it in a way that displays information that is customized for the user. For example, “Hello Amaury,” where “Amaury” is added automatically by the software, taking the information from the profile as well as the database.

So, in order for your developer and your designer to work effectively, they just need to specify the format that is going to be provided by the graphic designer and allow the developer to generate the content automatically with his code.

In a nutshell, if you hire a developer and a graphic designer, see if they really understand each other.

Input/output process

Then they need to define the designer’s output, which should be the developer’s input. And once you have the developer’s output (which is basically the Version 1 of your product), the designer should be able to perform changes on it without breaking what has been done by the developer.


So to conclude and answer Joel’s question, when it comes to making a designer and a developer work together, we need to define the border between the graphic design work and the developer’s work. We also need to clarify ahead of time the input and output expected from each of them.

Now if like Joel, you have a specific question for your project, just go ahead and ask on

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