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Design Handoff – Creating a Better Experience for Designers and Developers

The design handoff is a critical part of any project. For many designers and engineers, the design handoff is a stressful experience. If either team misses something, it could result in product defects and delays.


While it’s primarily the responsibility of the UX team to produce prototypes, assets, and documentation, the design handoff process is a collaborative effort—starting in the early design stages.


There are three stages to a successful design handoff:

  • During Design (before the handoff)

  • During Handoff

  • After Handoff


During Design (before the handoff)

A design handoff is not a single event in the design and development of a digital product. Instead, it’s a process that starts during the early design stages and ends after designers have completed the final product.


Designers and engineers must communicate and collaborate to streamline the design handoff process, mitigating costly errors.


During the early stages, designers and engineers should meet to discuss technical constraints concerning design ideas. While innovation is essential to build a competitive advantage, designers must work within the company’s resources and technical constraints.


A development team representative should attend user research to learn the “WHY” behind design decisions. By doing so, developers will better understand the user’s needs and the problems UX designers are trying to solve.



During Handoff

If design and development teams communicate and collaborate effectively during the design process, the handoff should be a smooth process of double-checking and organizing.


How designers present a design handoff is as important as the documentation, files, and assets themselves.


Firstly, UX teams should delete unused layers and guides to avoid confusion. Designers must also double-check they have grouped and labeled components correctly.


Using a consistent naming convention will help developers quickly locate files, assets, components, and elements. Engineers might advise on a preferred file structure that aligns with an efficient development workflow.


Explicit annotations are essential for developers to understand mockups and interactive prototypes. These annotations provide context or describe functionality that might be beyond the design tool’s capabilities.


Lastly, designers must walk through the product with the documentation to ensure developers receive a comprehensive design handoff.



After Handoff

UX teams play a vital role in the implementation’s quality assurance (QA)—testing the final product against interactive prototypes and mockups.


Once the final product is complete, designers and engineers should meet to discuss improving the design handoff process for future products and features.




Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash