Methods for effective collaboration in web design

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With so many creatives, clients and stakeholders involved in website creation, streamlining collaboration across the board is crucial.

5 min read

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When web designers and fellow team members try to collaborate without the right strategy in place, it can sometimes feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen. When you look at the scope of a website design project, you can see why it is that collaboration can be so painful as well as stifle individual productivity and creativity.

Everyone uses different software, approaches the job from differing perspectives, and even speaks a different “language.” Of course, there’s going to be friction if or when any of the teams try to come together.

But the solution isn’t to work separately. Instead, let’s look at five tools you can use to reduce that friction and enable better communication, collaboration, and creativity in team environments.

1. Use a task management system to keep everyone accountable

Managing website jobs is no easy feat. Not only do you have to balance all the moving pieces internally, but you have to account for the client as well.

The best way to keep everything straight— not just for the project manager, but also for each person who contributes to the job — is to use a task management system.

There are many tools you can use, so it’ll take some trial-and-error to find one that’s right for your team. Some options include Basecamp, Trello, Wrike and Asana.

Ultimately, you want something that will allow you to:

  • Lay out each step and task of a job before you get started.

  • Set milestones and track progress.

  • Assign tasks and deadlines to stakeholders.

  • Communicate with the client.

  • Collaborate internally.

It should also make it easy for you to create your own project management checklists and templates. The less time you have to spend on tedious administrative tasks, the more time there is to do the actual work of building a site.

In addition, it’s important to find a tool that provides visibility, which will enable everyone to get more done. That way, individuals can own their schedules without the fear of micro-management getting in the way. It would also be beneficial for everyone to see how their contribution fits into the larger scheme of the job and to better understand how it affects others’ work.

Just as task management tools can help with lessening the chances of a project going off the rails, they can also be useful for team-building and accountability, too.

2. Build a design system for each project

While design systems are most commonly associated with UX design, I’d argue that any website constructed by a team needs one.

For starters, a design system gets everyone on the same page right from the very start. And by creating it in the research and planning phase, you’ll ensure that every member of the team has clear guidelines to work from early on.

Many times, friction occurs because one person interprets instructions differently from someone else. But when you lay down a set of tools and rules, there can be no confusion about what’s expected, what needs to be done, and what you’re all working towards.

Another reason to create design systems for each job is empowerment.

Visual of a web page with pop up window and side menus showing the site's design library.

One of the more frustrating things about working within a creative team is when only certain people hold the reins. For instance, let’s say there are three designers on your team, each working on different jobs. One of the designers gets sick and is unreachable for a couple weeks.

Without a design system, one of the other designers would have to step in and try to figure out where the project is at and what the next steps are, which can feel like reinventing the wheel. Design systems remove that obstacle and empower anyone at any time to step in and hit the ground running.

If you’re creating a website on Editor X, you can use its design libraries tool to build a reusable collection of typography themes, color palettes and design assets for every web project, allowing you to apply your design system consistently across the board.

3. Close the language barrier

As a team grows in size, communication can become difficult as everyone has a different perspective and approach. Without a common ground to work from, it’s easy for thin