As designers, we know this for a fact: We got into design to create visual things and concentrate on our craft, end of story.

We all know these tales, you go to design or art school because you want to create stunning logos, incredible illustrations, motion and all kinds of stuff that has this appeal to the eye that got you trapped and wanted to do that for the rest of your life. That’s how almost all designers knew they wanted, well, to be designers. At least that was my story.

Then, suddenly, you got to see all of these awesome showcases of websites and apps on the internet. A digital revolution that you wanna be part of. You made your way into a digital studio, started creating beautiful user interfaces with all kinds of interactions. You wanted to eat the world in so many clicks, just to fall from the sky and crash into the floor with these words: “It can’t be done” Oh! The deception! The betrayal! A developer just told you that the website can't have all these awesome animations you spent half the time animating on after effects! You get so confused, the project would look spectacular with all of these visuals. Well, it’s because you didn’t know the technical background of the project.

As designers we often care so much about how the product is going to look and behave for the users that we don’t take time to talk with the development team and ask about the scope of the project and how the technologies implemented in it are going to have an effect on the way we take design decisions.

So, here I present these simple questions that can give you a better understanding about the project and its boundaries so you can focus on the thing that matters most: the visuals.

Which CMS are we using?

By asking this you can know a lot about the project and how you can start planning your design. Each CMS has a custom functionality, but it’s not the same designing for WooCommerce than for Shopify. Both are tools to create ecommerce, but each has individual guidelines and rules so that even just a single side bar can make a developer’s life and project harder than it is, if you don’t know where the boundaries of the platform are.

In this scenario, Shopify has its own developing language. All components are already written and specified on that platform, so, if you decide to do a different layout or a new component it can be hard for your dev teammates to find out a solution that meets your design requests. They'll struggle with learning this new language and to experiment with solutions, that takes time, and time is money.

Are we implementing a framework?

We all have heard about Bootstrap or Foundation: frontend frameworks that help developers create the visual part of the project easily. Knowing which framework is being used can help you understand the behavior of the layout  and to know how it’s going to interact on different device breakpoints.

Most frameworks work with a 12 column responsive grid; this means they have a specific behavior on smaller devices. Proposing a different layout (which is totally fine) would make the dev team override the css rules and the responsive behavior. You should be aware of how this grid works so you can make your design proposal fit this behavior.

Are we designing for a mobile OS? Which one?

Android and iOS are very different from each other. Knowing which OS the project is designed for can make the design phase extra fast. Both operating systems have design styles and guidelines you need to follow. They have design libraries that provide components and behavior so you can match your design with developers’ coding.

Is it Native or Hybrid?

This is a super important question you need to ask. The sooner you know, the better. As I just mentioned above, mobile OS are very different from each other. There are native components and typography that can only be used on a specific device with a specific behavior. If you are working on a native project, the design of components and interactions will be defined by the OS and you’ll need to design two different versions for the same feature. On the other hand, hybrid apps are more flexible at customizing your product and experimenting with interactions, so you could implement similar design components across different devices.

These are just a few questions that can improve your understanding of the technical part of the project by talking them over with the dev team. Don’t be afraid to start researching about development technologies and how they work; it will give you a broader perspective of the project and how far you can go with your creative ideas.

Bonus: You don’t need to learn to code, but if you can, do it. It will make your life and the workflow of the project extra easy if you can talk the same language as your dev colleagues.