AdFed Luncheon: Designers & Developers

Today I had the great privilege of speaking at the Fort Wayne AdFed luncheon. The American Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne is an integral part of the Fort Wayne creative community. To sum it up in a nutshell:

The American Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne, AdFed, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and improving the advertising industry, fostering higher standards of practice in advertising, expanding recognition of advertising, and cultivating a better understand of the economic and social values of advertising to all people.

Coming up on 10 years of design experience, coupled with 5 years of front-end web development experience, bridging the gap between designers and developers has become a mission of mine. Both designers and developers are essential to the creative process and producing a great end result. If a gap divides that process, disjointed work is often the result.


I was given the opportunity to speak on this topic and bring in some of my experience from both ends of the spectrum. Here are a few of the main points I discussed, as well as the slide deck from my presentation:

Designers: Stop Assuming

Spoiler alert—developers cannot read your mind. In several cases, an idea or design is conceived in your mind. From conception to production, you’re the closest person to the concept, but that doesn’t mean you’re the only one working with the concept.

Information Overload:

It’s important to provide as much information about the design direction as possible. There is no such thing as too much information when it comes to relaying your creative vision to designers. It helps to provide style guides for every element on a projects and ask questions throughout the project to ensure your vision is being communicated clearly.

Meetings on Meetings on Meetings:

Let’s be real—no one loves sitting in meetings all day. Meetings can stifle creativity and bog down the creative process. Unfortunately, meetings are necessary to a project’s success. Do yourself a favor and meet often. It’s a disaster to get all the way through a project and realize the designers and developers haven’t collaborated a wink. This is the kind of setback that can lead to those all-day meetings no one enjoys. If you schedule short and sweet meetings, developers can provide input on designs before it reaches the development stage.

90% of all decision makers should seek opinions before making final decisions.

Accessibility: Everyone’s Problem

Designing and developing digital products with all users in mind is crucial. Carefully crafted digital experiences should lead to an excellent user experience. To authentically design and develop products for all users, it is essential to keep users with disabilities in mind. A website or app can look amazing, but if the functionality doesn’t serve those using assistive technology such as screen readers and the like, the product falls short.

Rapid Prototyping

Like cooking a delicious meal, preparation is key. You’d never toss a whole onion or pepper into the skillet to sauté, right? Trust me, you wouldn’t. The prep work involves carefully chopping and dicing the ingredients just right so the end result is delicious. So it is with design. Launching into an animation project without proper storyboarding or preparation of your SVG files will only hurt you in the long-run.

Likewise, having a clear understanding of website and app functionality is important. If you work on a project without knowing objectives, you might produce a great product that isn’t very meaningful or helpful to the client. Taking the time to prepare before a project to ensure designers and developers both know the goals and objectives is important.

86% of employees in all industries blame a lack of collaboration for workplace failures.

I’d like to take an opportunity to thank the American Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne for allowing me to speak at today’s luncheon. It was an honor and privilege and I had a great time. I’d also like to thank Calhoun Street CS3 restaurant for hosting the event and welcoming all of us Fort Wayne creatives. In addition to AdFed and CS3, I’d like to thank the Reusser Design team and anyone else who made it out to the event. It was great to see you all and spend time connecting. And finally, I’d like to thank my family—especially my daughter, Serena—for inspiring this discussion.

If you’d like to read about my favorite features in the Sketch App or a recap of our accessibility event with Fifth Freedom, check out the links below. Also, feel free to download my presentation slide deck for more information.

>> Designers & Developers Slide Deck

>> UX Designers Should be Using Sketch

>> Accessibility Workshop with Fifth Freedom