It’s easy to get caught up in button colors, photography and slick fade-in animations, but it’s literally the surface of design. When building complex features with various moving pieces and functionality, worrying about the way something looks should be the last thing on the list. The focus should be on how a user reaches the solution to the problem they come to your site or application for. This is user experience design and it’s not solely designated to a horned-rim, black turtleneck wearing designer, it’s for the team to solve.

Every project has a diverse team of developers, designers and stakeholders, each with varying perspectives or knowledge to offer, but most don’t have the ability (or time) to sit behind a design application and work out a user flow.

So how do teams effectively collaborate?

The whiteboard.

It’s a perfectionist’s worst enemy, every line drawn or circle scribbled on a whiteboard looks as if it were done by a child… handwriting is shaky… it’s all bad, but that’s the point. It’s easy to pour hours of time and detail into a bad idea. The whiteboard removes any semblance of perfection and allow teams for focus purely on the way a feature should work and iterate (or start over) when it doesn’t.

While working on client projects, we take advantage of whiteboard time.

Instead of iterating full color mockup after mockup, we gather in front of the big ol’ slate of melamine. When button placement doesn’t make sense or batch editing behavior needs further definition, we are able to work through it by erasing and iterating with a dry erase marker.

The best part: Decisions are being made together. No tossing it over the fence for the development team to fret over, it’s a collaborative decision made with input from all team members. Time is saved, perspectives are voiced and meaningful collaboration is happening.

The whiteboard is magic.

It’s not the whiteboard. It’s technique, a level playing field, one where ideas can happen without the need to know how to design or code. The less baggage — button colors, photography, existing code — a team carries to a problem means fewer barriers to overcome and better products for the user.


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