Teamwork matters: the importance of collaborative design

by Adobe UK Team

Posted on 03-25-2019

Collaboration is critical to the future of design. That’s why we’re making it a core area of focus for the development of our XD experience design tool this year.

The changing nature of the design process was top of the agenda when we hosted UX/UI design specialists at an exclusive deep-dive innovations session during the Awwwards conference in Amsterdam. Andre Jay Meissner, XD team member since the product’s inception, agreed with our guests: collaboration is the solution to the increasing complexity of today’s design projects, and those of tomorrow.

Part of the issue is that UX design is now too big and diverse an area for one person to have all the skills and knowledge required to execute a major project. As UX designer Sander Crombach explained, that makes collaboration crucial, with designers learning from each other. As he put it: “The collective brain is more important for the outcome than the little knowledge of an individual.”

As UX designer Sander Crombach points out, the breadth of roles in design involves far more knowledge than any one individual can accumulate. Illustration by Bert Musketon.

At the same time, each designers bring something unique to the final creative output, as Johannes Schiel, owner of Germany’s Unleashed Design, pointed out: “Collaboration in the design industry is always exciting because everyone tries to solve the same problems differently. When all these solutions are combined, there is something good going on.”

Several of our guests highlighted the fact that, as design adopts agile methodologies, designers find themselves working with people from different parts of the business, and increasingly from outside it.

“Working as an Art Director and UI designer in an agency, sharing is part of the process,” explained Arnaud Steckle, co-founder of France-based communications agency Izhak. “On a project, we also have to collaborate with strategists, clients, creatives and users to create a digital product that fits the brief. So good collaboration tools and processes are completely essential in our industry.”

Collaboration is essential to push designers outside of their ‘bubble’. Illustration by Bert Musketon.

All of our guests stressed that collaboration and its benefits can’t happen without the right tools.

Adobe’s goal with XD and its monthly releases, each introducing new layers of functionality, is to provide design teams with a platform that gives them robust, high-performance tools and makes collaboration friction-free. Its emphasis on integration not only means that designers can open Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch files in XD, they can also connect with colleagues and clients who aren’t using XD via the browser and integrated into apps like Slack, JIRA and Microsoft Teams.

XD’s MVP-based design philosophy means we add a few high-quality features at each iteration and enhance them in subsequent releases. For instance, late last year we started building out voice support, adding multiple languages and regional accents in subsequent releases. This is great for ease of use, but it also means you can add a narrative to your prototypes, making it easier for everyone else in the design process to appreciate what you’re doing, and to provide feedback.

XD already capitalises on Adobe’s Creative Cloud to make it easier for designers to work together. The December 2018 release introduced Cloud Documents as the default way of working, meaning that the work is automatically saved to the Cloud and offline changes are automatically updated, so that everyone in the team is always working off the same version of the design. It also means that feedback can be collated in one place, making it easy to accommodate it into the next revision of the design.

Various tools and processes are involved to achieve collaboration. Illustration by Bert Musketon.

This desire to remove friction from the design process has always been one of the core principles of XD. According to Meissner, applying that to collaboration is a key focus for XD in 2019.

“For us, XD is already pretty awesome for designers, so for 2019 we’re focusing on supporting the workflows of large teams.”

Topics: Design, UX/UI Design, André Jay Meissner, Arnaud Steckle, Awwwards 2019, Collaboration, Johannes Schiel, Sander Crombach, UI Design, UI-Designer, Unleashed Design, UX-Design, UK, UK Exclusive, Creative EMEA

Products: Creative Cloud