You Need Both Parts of the Digital Brain Working Together
Two separate entities are normally involved in creating a digital product. Traditionally these two entities, creative digital agencies and developers, create a product in a four-step, serial fashion.
The agency creates the design. The designer sends the requirements to the developer. The developer codifies the design. The developer delivers the finished product to the design agency. Communication between these two during the development stage is most often minimal to practically nonexistent.
A wall exists between the two working groups. It doesn’t have to be there, but all too many designers and developers don’t appear to recognize that fact. For whatever reason, the philosophy behind creating a digital product is often one of allowing each team to do the assigned work in isolation and undisturbed.
There can and should be common ground between the two groups. It’s called creativity. Creativity applies to both working groups, and is something the groups can share, just as creativity is shared between both sides of the brain.
Let’s explore how developers use creativity to add value to creative agencies’ designs, rather than placing limitations on them, and examine one company’s approach.
We Need Both Parts of the Brain to Achieve the Best Results
Image source: Xfive.co
Creative agencies work with ideas and concepts. They work with patterns, colors, and flows. They typically do not require a knowledge of coding to produce a product’s design. A designer uses the right side of the brain, the artistic side.
Programmers add value to designs. Adding value may involve transforming the design into a workable application through the process of coding. The developer is applying logic, while essentially just following orders. In the case of the developer, it’s the left side of the brain that does the work.
But, there is something wrong with this picture. Everyone knows that programming is a skill, but not everyone realizes that programming is also a creative activity.
With highly-trained and experienced programmers, this is always the case. The serial process outlined earlier lends itself to the infamous “garbage in, garbage out” scenario. If the designer does not attend to detail, or the developer does sloppy work, and the two do not communicate, the likely outcome will be a sad one.
Creative agencies do not always understand what developers are capable of doing to add real value to a product, and they don’t always understand that it is so much easier for developers to add that value when the communication channels are open. This lack of understanding helps build the wall that exists between teams.
“A good developer should be proactive, should help the client when facing hard decisions on the project, should never limit its development, but find smarter & better technical solutions. You can call it “creativity”, we prefer to call it “care”. – Milosz Bazela, Xfive.
Image source: Xfive.co
Restrictions and Limitations Can Aid, and not Hinder Progress
Design requirements tell developers what to do and what not to do.
Most often, they tell developers what to do, but with restrictions that are not necessarily intentional but nevertheless place limits on what programmers can do. Conversely, substandard development practices can limit a product’s ability to perform as the design intended it to.
Limits are where structured imagination comes into play, and where the creative juices begin to flow. Restrictions and limits can be thought of as being impenetrable barriers. Or, they can be viewed as problems in search of solutions.
Problem solving, especially where creative thinking is involved, engages both sides of the brain. It is a type of brainstorming, done inside the head. When problem solving is a team effort, or a combined effort involving two teams, solutions can range from workable to innovative and brilliant.
The Different Shapes of Creativity
Arne Dietrich (2004) defined four categories of creativity – Deliberative and Cognitive, Spontaneous and Cognitive (the “Aha” moment), Deliberative and Emotional, and Spontaneous and Emotional.
Designers and developers experience all four types of creativity, and in doing so make use of both sides of the brain. If all designers were strictly right-brained, and all developers were strictly left-brained, communication between the two groups would be a challenge.
Creativity, especially deliberative and cognitive creativity, plays no favorites. Design teams mix and match colors and manipulate patters. Developers take unexciting, straightforward rules for coding, and manipulate them to work miracles. Best of all, the two teams can benefit from one another’s creativeness.
Developers Who Care
Deliberate and Emotional Creativity has its place as well; especially among developers. It is this type of creativity that promotes individual and team motivation, and encourages team members to work together.
Caring extends beyond the team. Whether you are a designer or a developer, you have a customer or client you need to reach out to.
“When meeting a new client, the ideal situation is that they should provide strict requirements and well written scope of tasks, so that we could rapidly understand their perspective, optimize its cost and deliver the project smoothly. However, there are situations when your client (partner) does not have a lot of experience, and that’s where our Project Managers come in and help. Thanks to that, our client will feel extremely safe while working with us – like driving a Volvo” – Milosz Bazela, Xfive.
A product that meets a client’s needs results in a satisfied client. When a development team injects a healthy dose of tender, loving care into a product and works hard to satisfy its client, the result is a happy client, and one who is likely to become a repeat client.