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If you've worked in a well-organized, big team environment, from designers to developers, I'd love to hear from you...

I need to propose a design process for a web design team that will be working with onsite developers on a large ASP.NET project developing website, mobile website, and mobile app versions (Android and Apple), and even a Windows version, of a software product. I'd appreciate any suggestions if you and your company have "a better way" because I feel that most working structures are flawed. In particular, I notice these problems with teams I observe, and I'd love to hear your input on a way to improve the development process for ANY of the problematic issues identified below:

1) MULTIPLE PLATFORMS) In web/mobile design operations, designers design for every UI individually - mobile/web/win and Apple/Android/Windows. Even in Xamarin operations, the models must be mocked up separately for each OS and resolution. There must be a better way than a designer preparing designs for 10 different-but-almost-the-same user interfaces? A form with 3 textboxes and a submit button shouldn't need to be created 10x to mock up a website, a mobile website, and varying resolutions of Android and Apple mobile apps. I've seen teams waiting on simple 4 element designs for a day or two because of all the variations. What is the better way? Isn't there some design program where you can basically create once and then it helps you vary the design quickly for all platforms/resolutions?

2) DEVELOPERS RECREATE ANYWAY) In mobile design, developers basically have to recreate the entire model designed by the designer, and not only is this a waste of time but they may not have the attention to detail of the designer. How can one best make designs such that developers can literally take and begin using that design? Why don't designers use the development programs, such as Visual Studio, and make the design there once rather than making it in some format that will be discarded by the developer? But Visual Studio isn't great for design even though a developer has to build in there anyway for ASP.NET or Xamarin projects. I absolutely do not want developers copying from scratch something they are viewing in Photoshop; that's crazy.

3) PHOTOSHOP FOR EVERYTHING!) Designers often use Photoshop for everything rather than using specialized programs. For example, Dreamweaver may be better for HTML mockup but designers may prefer Photoshop and slicing that creates poor HTML. What programs are really the best for each individual function when a company needs to develop web, win, and mobile app versions of its product?

4) BEST TOOL FOR INITIAL SKETCHES) Designers from my observation like to sketch the first mockup in Photoshop. What tool is best for initial sketching? I've seen a few advertised but I'd appreciate hearing the real life experience of someone who has used one or a few.

5) ANNOTATION LOCATION) Notes need to be passed to the developers with each UI design, such as "validate first name field to max 12 characters" or "hide this element when...". I haven't seen a team have a really good way of adding these notes to designs. And, with making 10 variations of a design for mobile, web, etc. that just makes this problem more repetitive because every recipient needs those same notes so ideally one would want to centralize these notes. Putting them in Word seems old-fashioned but putting them directly on the page makes for a cluttered design and some developers even think the note is for the UI itself! What's the best way or program for incorporating annotation?

6) FILE STORAGE) Designers per my observation email files around or store HTML mockups/images on a web server. Then that leads to file naming concerns and each filename may contain some variation of naming tidbits to reflect the platform, resolution, OS, etc. Then, when the boss says "show me a version with the button in red", you have to take 10 platform-specific files and make another set with the letter "b" at the end of the filename. Anyone have any good method for storing all these files in a common repository with a naming system and directory structure that works? There must be some better way than just messing with a clutter of files in a file system. Is there a program that can help call up specific versions of output by platform, resolution, variation, version number, etc. rather than trying to use file naming for all of this?

If your company has a better way to address ANY of these problems, please mention the point # and let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

  • My answer on versions, file naming convention, communication, archives: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/55629/… By the way, you can't really ask designers to do mockups in Dreamweaver... might as well just do it in HTML already or hire a talented web designer (usually the budget isn't there.) – go-junta Oct 28 '15 at 0:22
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    Hi Stack, some of these are opinion-based while others aren't. We also really prefer one question at a time. Your question about sketching for example is primarily opinion based and might even have its answer elsewhere. The Photoshop for Everything bit I am positive we have questions on. Go-Meek pointed out another question that discusses file naming. My point is because of how long and how many questions there are in yours we can't accurately mark duplicates and which parts are opinion based. Please edit it to be one clear and non-opinion based question. Can always post multiple questions – Ryan Oct 28 '15 at 1:40
  • Ryan, the rules of this site are ridiculous in this case. This is not a math forum where there are logically-defined answers. Indeed, in a graphics forum, we expect more subjective responses. In fact, requesting suggestions for structured workflow on GRAPHICS DESIGN teams should be deemed as more logical than questions pertaining to art itself, and thus such questions should be quite welcomed here! – stackonfire Oct 28 '15 at 3:43
  • The rules are determined by the greater community. You're welcome to read the help center or our Graphic Design Meta for more information. I never said your questions about workflow are bad, so not sure why you seem to be attacking me. In fact I was discussing it in chat prior to closing because they are good questions. It doesn't change, however, that other aspects such as "What tool is best for initial sketching" is not a good question. All I asked was for you to edit your Question, it wasn't an attack on you or your questions, it was an attempt to improve them to be within the community guidelines. – Ryan Oct 28 '15 at 4:24
  • I think you need to take this to pm.stackexchange.com (project management) It's not really a design question. – Scott Oct 28 '15 at 5:59