Dan Davies{ Front-end Developer }

Working smarter

29th March 2014

If you’ve read my blog or my tweets, you’ll know I’m quite keen on workflow. I have this vision in my head and I’m slowly starting to refine how I work or at least want to work either by myself or with others.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people about how they go about stuff and I’ve taken a lot from what they have said. Some work alone, some work in agencies which has given me some great ideas.

What I am keen to see is a project in the browser as quick as possible. It makes sense. The website is made up of markup, images, css and so on so why introduce that part at the end. For me, it still seems there are a few steps to take to get there, especially when the project is big and you work in a team of many people. But size shouldn’t matter, it’s what you do with it that counts..or something like that.

It’s about working smarter and using the skills to benefit the project.

A word I refer back to a lot is collaboration. Long gone are the days where someone will do their bit, pass it on and then they do their bit and then pass it on. It’s not efficient or good use of people’s time.

I firmly believe you should all sit in a room, talk it through, sketch it out and start to produce the bits you need to. You should work at the same time, comment, offer advice, share and compromise.

Bullshit Dan, it doesn’t work like that!

Why not?

Everyone can sketch right? Why does it have to be the designer or UX person doing that? Get people involved, get them sketching. Plant a seed early. You might find the idea you want to do won’t work for whatever reason or the CMS you are building with offers this cool function.

Once you’ve sketched though, surely the team breaks up and waits for their relevant bit to start?

That’s the bullshit bit.

I can’t stress enough the good caused by styleguides. This is something you can all work on and define. We can then implement it early into our wireframes, PSDs and markup. We should have the base created before anything else is done.

Same goes with the wireframing stage. There is nothing to stop a backender getting involved with this stage or a front-ender or a designer. The more input the better. Not only are any issues potentially discussed and fixed, everyone knows what is going on and are able to take bits of this away and can start to build whether it be in layers, HTML or some .net voodoo.

Just to summarise what we have so far.

  • Sketches
  • Wireframes
  • Styleguide
  • Idea of layout, look and feel.
  • Everyone involved, a project should be set up, potentially some templates set up with styling, some PSDs that mirror that and a CMS hopefully hooked up.

Now I’ve really skimmed this quickly and probably made it sound so amazing and almost too true to imagine but I think the point stands. We’ve got to a situation where we all have something to go on and most importantly a working site that needs refining. All through working together and not isolation.

Nobody works like that

I have recently to a point and it was fucking amazing. I didn’t have a design for 768px wide. Did I ask the designer to go away and produce a PSD? No. I sat next to him, explained the issue, talked it through, compromised, edited in the code there and then and boom! It now looks nice on the iPad. Took twenty mins*.

I’m not taking credit for the design. It used the styles we talked about and produced. It used his design knowledge and my coding knowledge and a bit of talking to fix the problem.

That’s how I want to work. I want to work with people.

The old “it depends” will get thrown out there when we talk about working together on projects. It is true but really, there is nothing stopping us all working smarter.

I find myself using post-it notes half the time to communicate ideas. There is nothing stopping me producing a quick PSD or a HTML prototype. We do what we feel is right. As long as we all talk about it, the idea gets implanted in everyone’s brain and it’s not this massive clusterfuck at the end.

We can all work at the same time. Isolation causes the problems.

*Ok, I understand it’s not always a simple as that but you get the point.

Please comment, get in touch, shout at me. I’d love to hear people’s views, experiences even if it’s just to tell me to shut the fuck up. It’s really very important to me.

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