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The Benefits of Collaborative Design

By Judy Riojas - November 26, 2012

The Effects of The Open Source Movement On Web Designers. Back at a time when computers were still fairly new, it proved difficult to find knowledgeable programmers.  The internet has changed this system where its now easier than ever to study on a unique design or development topic.

Software and web developers are now working hand-in-hand by sharing code and resources through various websites.This movement known as the “Open Source” movement, has grown rapidly and isn’t slowing down anytime soon.  As more and more code is made available online, it’ll be easier for developers to launch full web applications within a period of hours.  This hierarchy is changing the way we build websites for the better!  In this article, we’ll share some new ideas looking forward as to how it is that web designers can start working within the open source movement and utilize it to their advantage.

Open Code Standards

Now that jQuery has been around for some time, it has become a staple for what we know as modern JavaScript development.  There’s conspicuous rules and syntax regulations to follow, and these standards have largely been adopted from the open source movement.  Within a couple of days, someone can have mastery over JavaScript.We’ve already seen this change with coding HTML5 and CSS3 as well.  Standards are much easier to maneuver around and you can easily find examples of whatever it is that you need.  There are even free CSS3 gradient tools which can generate the kind of code most pleasing to you!

Learning and Sharing Knowledge

Back when people were originally studying web design around 2004, which is known to be an in-between phase for designers, there were some great tutorials on the web, but they were largely geared towards beginners.  It was rather difficult to jump in and learn something like Ruby On Rails, or PHP/MySQL.The Stack Overflow community has become a precious resource for learning and fixing errors.  Intelligent programmers from all over the world go there to answer questions and help other developers to solve their issues.  Whenever someone runs into a problem, they should check SO threads in Google.  Programmers have often found most of their solutions to their problems by searching through the correct websites. But once someone as studied in the field for quite some time, it doesn’t hurt to give back knowledge.  Questions can provide a learning area for developers struggling with similar problems.  But alternately, someone can visit these Q&A sites in the hopes of answering other questions.  It can also help your debugging skills and offer a valuable service to web designers around the world.

Less Wheels To Invent

The most common phrase we all hear is “don’t reinvent the wheel”.  This concept can often be at the central core of the entire open source universe.  When someone can work with a plugin or CSS library that’s already got the code you need, why should they rewrite it from scratch?  It’s a waste of time and most likely another developer has put careful attention into perfecting their code.As we keep moving forward, we find that there are less wheels we need to invent.  There are more open source libraries for functionality that people have never even used before.  Graphs, mapping charts, math functions, HTML5-based audio/video; many other features too numerous to list.  Yet working off of these already existing features can make your job a whole lot easier and less cumbersome.

This is a concept known as abstraction and occurs when programmers are building off of another layer of code.  jQuery is known as an abstraction of JavaScript, and the numerous jQuery plugins are deeper abstractions of jQuery. Then a developer can use these plugins on their own websites and customize them for specific layout styles.

Resolving Solutions

The crisis of problems or solutions is always there whenever you’re coding a new website.

Problems have been known to arise from browser bugs in HTML/CSS.  Or maybe you could be faced with more complex issues in JavaScript or the backend programming languages.But whatever your problem is, it’s a good chance that somebody can help you out with the solution.  Even if this person doesn’t tell you directly, you’ve got a chance to read it on their blog or form post.  We’re all contributing solutions to the various problems which come up from day to day.  Projects can now be completed at much quicker speeds than before.

It can appear like an ideal situation, although this can lead to laziness and deep motivation problems.  When you’re still new in web developing, it can be easier to ask for help and cut/copy/paste the answer rather than to figure out how and why it works.  That’s the wrong path to follow if you’ve got a mindset to build a career as a web designer.

Open source coding on wordpress
The open source movement has allowed web developers collaborate from all corners of the world.

Never let completion of a project hold more importance than that of your education.  Once you build something right for the first time, you’ll likely remember that code if you need it later.  But even if you should forget it, there will always be your first project’s source code you can look over as a ready reminder.

Having code snippets readily accessible means you can push through complex projects in a matter of a couple of days.  Without these open source tools, you can anticipate a week or more of development trying to build a working solution.

Conclusion

There is very little doubt that open source is the best future model for website developers.  Design trends aren’t inherently “owned” by anybody, and you cannot patent a generic idea like accordion widgets or dropdown menus.  Developers who’ve created these things and offer them free of charge have the knowledge that their code will be put to good use.  And it is because of this generosity that we’ve got powerful CMS today in the likes of ExpressionEngine and WordPress.

Ask yourself how you can be of help to contribute to this powerful open source movement.  Even graphic designers are starting to become more comfortable publishing free PSD and Al files online.  More people are beginning to study web design every year and working to join forces with developers who’ve come before them.  It is an incredibly exciting time to be alive and working on the internet.

Collaborative Web Design’s Benefits

Being able to network online has become easier and much more beneficial with so much open communication.  Users of the internet love to share ideas which they can find all throughout blogs and web forums.  But aside from hanging out and having fun while online, there’s real business to be done.

In this guide, we’ll share some ideas about working in a collaborative web team.  Pairing up with a couple of talented individuals is often the best way to create outstanding projects.  One can learn a whole lot from other designers and share tips between each other.  You’ll find that collaboration on projects can be fun and can probably be the best way to meet other work-driven enthusiasts in your field.

Shared Experiences

There’s little doubt that two heads work better than one.  And once it comes to building websites, this becomes the standard convention.

2 web designers can bring a set of totally different skills to the design.  Consider collaboration in a team of 3 or even 4 designers or developers.  One can quickly see how shared experience comes together in a powerful opportunity.  Each person can be more better equipped to handle different pieces of the puzzle – CSS styles, Photoshop graphics, HTML code, illustrations, vector icons, etc.

Just make sure you’re using these techniques to your advantage.  Feuding with teammates is how projects slow to a halt.  Listen to one another and plan out head who’ll be working on what role.

Cutting Project Timelines

When developing was fairly new, freelancing was such an exciting field to jump into.  Being able to work on all kinds of different projects and having complete control over functionality and programming was emblematic of the internet.

But with age and more experience, time becomes a necessity.  One has to be careful each day and spread out the workload evenly.  When working collaboratively, the project time required to finish work is greatly reduced.  One can be shocked at how quickly two sets of hands can type compared to just one.

Mix And Match Styles

Another good point to mention is mixing different design styles.  Each web designer is unique in preferences for building a website.  Flexible layouts, fixed widths, 1/2/3/4 columns, side navigation; the list can and does go on.

If you’ve got trouble compromising with your ideas, then you might not enjoy this as much.  When working together on design, you’ll have to throw out some of your ideas as a deference to your colleagues.  That can be rough – especially if you really like your style of design.  But one must keep in mind that you’re working for the project, not for yourself.

You’ve got to please clients with the end result and that ultimately should be your bottom line. Motives aside, you can gather feedback and input from your partner about how your ideas mesh into another website.  You must work with somebody you can trust and feel comfortable sharing input and feedback of your own.

Always Keep Learning

One must remember that freelancing can be just a tool for work or higher education.  As humans on earth, we’re here to live and learn lessons.  And often the best way to get information is by sharing with others.

Fortunately, the internet has allowed people to connect with each other from all over the world.  This is a benefit that newbies in any field can partner with other people from around the world and learn new things.  Even moderate to the most experienced web designers don’t understand everything.  And you should never stop your search for true knowledge.

Brilliant people can often find themselves working with other bright and gifted individuals.  When collaborating with other designers, use this as an advantage and ask questions.  You can learn a lot of new stuff from other designers and build friendship based on these correspondences.

Ideas Come To Life

People who have launched plenty of startups online will find the more you work, the more you begin to understand.  But upon partnering up with 2 or 3 people, the enterprise can improve the quality of any website idea.

One can feel such energy coming together brings out another part of their creative minds.  And this is the open expression that many designers express regarding their ideas and build them quickly.  Its difficult to articulate these feelings into words, but one you spend time working with other creative professionals, you can understand.

You’ll feel more invigorated and excitedly jump into any project.  Over time, one can develop a close bond with other developers and designers.  Collaborators know how to tackle a project and have little trouble splitting the workload.  If you’re serious about collaboration on projects, strive to build lifelong connections with your partners.

There’s so much to experience and it is unlikely you can enjoy any of this all by yourself.  It feels good to receive the credit for the entire website, and there is always going to be time for solo work.  But try not to deride the realistic power of a creative web design team.

Conclusion

There are many benefits when it comes to collaborating with other designers and developers on website projects.  There certainly are benefits to working by oneself as well – you can get the majority control and have the ability to manage every aspect and detail about the website in question.  But once you can let go of this need to control, it’s a relief to understand that you’ve got a partner to bounce ideas off of.

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