Development Styleguide Image

Development handoff, the third step

Lucas Hall UX

So, here we are. The last step in the three step process. The moment every designer looks forward to. That moment when your design is on it’s way to production. It’s the development handoff.

Development Team Expectations?

If you have been following a standard User Centered Design method, then leading up to this point, you’ve determined the problem that your design needs to solve. You’ve likely spent time with users and business stakeholders wrapping your mind around what’s needed. Hopefully by now, you have determined that some of those business stakeholders just might be one to many developers who have their own goals. They may want you to keep your design handoff as shallow as possible so that they can be in more control over the final product. On the other end of the spectrum, maybe they want every single little detail spelled out in the form of redline specifications, a styleguide, a high resolution simulation or perhaps a choreographed dance. Either way, you’ll do well for yourself by finding out the development team’s expectations early on.

Some common expectations are…

  • High level site map early on so that they may begin building while the page designs are being firmed up.
  • Having access to your Styleguide having typography, colors, and screen samples as early as they can get them. This allows them to start staging their own code.
  • Redline specifications, or specifications showing spacing, alignment, colors, styles to use, etc… on high resolution screen samples.
  • Low resolution wireframe simulations or high resolution simulations showing complex interactions
  • a tiny bit of blood in the form of a binary code… kidding!

I’m developing for myself!

Maybe you are the development team. If so, then someone should give you the fabled Unicorn Designer Badge of Super Human Has No Life-ness! While that is hitting below the belt a bit, the fact remains that if you did all the research, all the sketching and designing, all the testing, an all the iteration on all the designing… Well, you’ve been busy. Here’s the silver lining. You may now cut corners that some more strict development teams would hold you accountable for. Maybe you don’t need a fully functioning simulation. Perhaps the high resolution screenshots you built in Illustrator will do the trick. Here’s a tip though. Make sure you have your styleguide at least put in a document. It’s always handy to keep tabs of your typography settings. Also, colors can get out of hand without some guiding force.


Notice that there is a possibility that you will be crossing the development path even early in the process. Research, Design, and Development are the three main parts of getting the job done, but the truth is that sometimes they fall out of order. You have to be flexible enough to do that. On some projects, I can totally pull off a project plan, while other projects are “Agile”. Meaning, that they seem almost out of control and constantly coming down the pipe. Every project is different. Each project has it’s own development characteristics. You’ll do fine! ~ Lucas

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