Getting design and development team on the same page!

What makes or breaks a product team?

Strong design principles are one. A clear, effective roadmap is another. But one of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of all great product teams, are the relationships between the designers and engineers on your team.

“Truly great products are often a combination of two things: a technical breakthrough and a never-before-seen design it enabled.”

Yet many designers compartmentalise building a product into two distinct parts — design and development. This distinction is one of the most dangerous traps a product team can fall into. When the design is seen as a satellite that orbits engineering, it usually comes crashing back to earth.

The problem is we separate design from implementation. In product design, both these things are inextricably linked. A world with terms such as “design freeze” or “handoff” just won’t cut it.

Truly great products are often a combination of two things: a technical breakthrough and a never-before-seen design it enabled. So it’s essential designers understand the possibilities and restraints of the technology they’re working with before they can properly delve into the design.

Design together

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re designing a native mobile app. Here are some technical questions you might receive from an engineer that can heavily influence your design decisions:

  • Which framework are we going to use for that home screen chart? If we don’t know the suitable one, we should ask the developer for a suggestion and follow the UI of that framework.
  • How long does it take the API to fetch the data for that list-view? If it’s too long, you’re going to need to do more than place a spinner.
  • The API takes a little too long to load user’s loans. What do we display in the meantime?

Questions such as the above should be asked and addressed as early as possible by discussing with engineers. Involve them in the design process, at the end of the day, it’s the developer that actually builds the website or app.

Even though you’re the designer, the developer knows best when it comes to certain other aspects of the user experience (perceived performance, page loading times, miscellaneous features that will crash the browser).

Turning design into reality

Being a great designer requires you to be empathetic, not only to users or clients but also to your engineers. Let’s not forget that all of us are working for the same goal of building a kickass product!

So here are key pointers to turn your design into pixel perfect reality:

1. (Atomic) Design System:

Design System is a list of all the elements you are using in a project. It helps you maintain consistency in the design. Want to know how we built our design system? Take look at this article:

getting-design-and-development-team-on-the-same-page


2. Mockups:

We all have been generating & sharing UI mocks comfortably for many years now. But there are few things which will help us avoid confusion.

Artboard sizes:

Nowadays we have a wide range of devices. Not just web but our mobile platforms also has varying screen sizes! It’s important to decide how will our product look on all those screens? Define the breakpoints and keep in mind the media queries that developers are going to use. Talk with your developer if you don’t know what it is.

Breakpoints and responsive layouts:

Upload an artwork to Zeplin or Google Gallery or InVision with the responsive design (according to the breakpoints that you’ve already set), in other words, share how your design looks in different screen resolutions and devices.

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You think it‘s clear that the design will be horizontally centred at higher resolutions, such as 1920 x 1080 pixels, but developers are not mind-readers.

Tools for designers:

We have developed a Sketch plugin which allows you to quickly generate guides for a selected element and helps you achieve web development’s famous grid (column) behaviour in Sketch. The plugin was featured on SketchApp website and newsletter.

Tools for designers

File names and versioning:

The name of the screen should simply describe its function. If you’re not yet using a version control solution for your designs, you probably should.

Make sure to use consistent casing when naming your screens, whether it’s ‘camelCasing’ or ‘Sentence casing’ or ‘lower casing’ etc.

File names and versioning

We also add 3 number to give the sequence to mockups.

3. Interactions:

Make a flow:  Putting the mockups together is only half the work done. You’d need to stitch the screens together based on the flow using Hotspots (or just make an Interactive Prototype). It helps the product manager understand how the user journey is panning out and helps the developer plan her/his approach to code.

Figure out the fidelity: Not every screen has to be fleshed out with high fidelity prototypes. Few screens could simply be static with explanatory comments, few could get away with platform-specific standard interaction patterns and few might require those custom prototypes. There’s no blanket rule for all the screens, so discuss with your developer & plan accordingly.

Suggested Tools: Overflow, Marvel, InVision, Google Gallery, Principle or craft it directly in code!

4. Specs and assets:

Today with products like Zeplin, Google Gallery, Marvel Handoff or InVision’s Inspect sharing style guides and specifications has never been easy.

Assets and resources:

Exporting assets for the different platform is easy but your developer is gonna love you if you are giving them optimised assets! Use optimisation tools like Kraken, ImageOptim, Optimage or TinyPNG.

Even better if you use SVG.

When you use SVG for your icons or illustrations, you don’t need to worry about devices with different pixel densities. Another advantage is that SVG graphics use up less space, and can be compressed effectively by gzip on the server side.

Think twice before you send an asset larger than 1MB to a developer! Don’t be lazy and send the job off to a developer; you are responsible for the visual quality of the project. Check out this image optimisation guide by Google.

Assets also include custom fonts and copy for your vernacular Apps.

Final Checklist:

1. Don’t be too visionary.The ideas must work.

2. Work with real data in mind and think about a “scalable design”. If there is a long text, what happens? how does it work in other languages? and if in the future will be adding more items to the menu, what happens?

3. Empty states: if you don’t know what they are, find out!

4. Explain the reason for your choices about the layout, colors and interactions.

5. If you speak the language of developers, you can get respect. If you have a good knowledge of programming languages (HTML, CSS, Java, PHP, JavaScript, C #, Objective-C or Swift) you can be one of them and they listen to you with pleasure.

6. Never forget the user.

Conclusion

Although you shouldn’t need another reason to be considerate of your fellow teammates (especially developers, who traditionally, designers find it hard to see eye-to-eye with), using these tips will help you, as a designer, just as much as they help everybody else. Cutting corners to save time only creates speed bumps further down the road, so add a little care and some foresight with your design choices.

Tap the ? button if you care about your developer (and/or you found this article useful).

Have any tips of your own? Let us know ?

Source:- Capital Float’s Medium Blog

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Considerations for educational trusts to keep in mind while availing finance

To upgrade the quality of education delivered in their school, authorities running the institution may occasionally need to apply for loans. The first thought that strikes while contemplating Indian school finance is one of approaching a bank. The low rate of interest and general trust in the banking system draws many private schools to these established lenders.

Although banks offer loans to businesses and other organisations, when it comes to financing educational institutions, things can be rather challenging, and it may take long before the school actually receives the requested amount for use. The reason for this is complex eligibility criteria and the long list of documents necessary to get the loan application approved.

School finance in India is granted to institutions that are backed by promoters or a trust. While applying for the loan, a copy of the trust deed or memorandum of association needs to be submitted to the lender. However, when the loan is being applied through a public sector or private bank, it may also ask for hard copies of several additional documents such as three to four years of financial statements along with their audit report, three to four years of income tax returns submitted by the school, bank statements and multiple KYC documents.

With such requirements, if the school has been running for just two years, it may not be able to get the loan. In addition to a pile of printed copies, the legal restrictions for funding educational trusts may also compel the bank to ask for collateral security or involvement of a guarantor. This is considered to be the hardest part as not many schools can afford to hypothecate a valuable financial asset to the lender.

Is there any other alternative for private school financing? Can these institutions securely apply for their loan and get the amount in minimum time without going through the hassles of submitting numerous documents and arranging for collateral? The answer, fortunately, is ‘Yes’.

Keeping up with the plans of promoting quality education in India, digitally operating non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) called FinTech companies have come up with a borrower-friendly lending model. They provide school finance on easy terms and conditions that merely require the borrowing institution to:

  • Be a private school with fully functional classes from LKG to VIII/X/XII grade
  • Be run by promoters or a trust
  • Have an annual fee collection of more than Rs. 75 lakhs
  • Have the school building on its own property

Since the application process is digital, the school needs to upload only soft copies of the documents proving its eligibility. Moreover, financial/bank statements are required for just two years. There is no need to provide any security or guarantor promises: FinTech loans are collateral-free.

If you have plans to construct a new building in your school, stock up the library, refurbish the labs or add any other facility to enhance the education service, the answer on how to finance a school improvement plan lies in an unsecured loan from a FinTech.

Apply for Unsecured school loan

Capital Float is a leading school finance provider in the Indian FinTech industry. We offer quick loans of up to 50 lakhs to fund school development. To know more about our finance options, call us at 1860 419 0999.

Oct 24, 2018

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Implications of GST on Manufacturing

GST — the unified tax system that is set to revolutionize indirect taxation in India— is finally here. Some of its key proposed advantages are streamlining of tax payments, reduction in tax frauds, and ease of doing business. Here is a look at how these will play out in the manufacturing domain.

Make In India & Manufacturing

The manufacturing sector in India contributes a mere 16% to the overall GDP. However, the potential to make this a high-growth and high-GDP sector is huge. The “Make in India” campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes this possibility real, by giving impetus to the sector. Furthermore, PwC estimates that India will become the fifth largest manufacturing country in the world by the end of 2020. It would be interesting to know how the Goods and Services Tax or GST impacts this roadmap.

Impact of GST on Manufacturing

GST is one of the key policy changes that will have a direct impact on manufacturing establishments. So far, the existing complex tax structure has been a dampener, resulting in the slow growth of the sector. GST is expected to liberate the sector by unifying tax regimes across states.

Overall, GST is expected to have a positive impact and boost manufacturing.  Here is why:

  • Removal of multiple valuations will create simplification: The old tax regime subjects manufactured goods to excise duty, which is calculated differently in different states. While some states calculate excise duty based on transaction value, others calculate it based on quantity. Most manufactured goods’ excise duty is currently considered on MRP valuation. This creates great confusion in valuation methods. GST will usher in an era of transaction-based valuation, making calculation of tax much simpler for the manufacturer.
  • Entry tax subsummation will reduce cost of production: The subsuming of the entry tax for inter-state transfers is a key reason for reducing cost of goods and services. For example, a supplier of cement from Maharashtra to Karnataka was earlier required to pay entry tax when the supply crossed the interstate border. For Karnataka, the entry tax rate was 5% of the value of the goods. The supplier would pass on this additional cost to the customer, resulting in increase in selling price. With entry tax being subsumed, the supplier need not pay the entry tax rate amount and consequently, not charge the customer this amount either.
  • Improved cash flows: Under the new tax laws, manufacturers can claim input tax credit on input goods, which seems to be a positive sign for cash flow. SMEs are keenly observing the time difference between input tax credit and the credit being available.
  • Single registration process will provide ease of registration: The old regime required manufacturers to register each manufacturing facility separately, even those in the same state. GST will simplify the plant registration process by allowing single registration for all manufacturing entities within the same state. Previously, if a brick manufacturer had factories in Bangalore, Hubli and Dharwad, each unit had to be registered separately. Under GST, all of these factories would be jointly registered under the state of Karnataka. Of course, different state-entities will require separate registrations under GST too.
  • Removal of cascading will lead to lower cost-to-consumer: The old tax regime does not allow manufacturers to claim tax credit on inter-state transaction taxes such as octroi, central sales tax, entry tax etc. This results in cascading of taxes—an extra cost to the manufacturing company. Manufacturers end up passing on these extra costs to the consumer. The unified GST regime will eliminate multiple taxes and thus lower cost of production; this, in turn, will mean lower pricing for the consumer. For example, prior to 1 July 2017, SMEs in manufacturing used to pay Excise Duty, Central State Tax and sometimes VAT too at 12.5%, 2% and 5.5% respectively. With GST in effect, they are required to pay 18% in taxes.
  • Restructuring of supply chain: To align with the GST law, businesses will be required to realign their supply chains. However, this is a blessing in disguise. Till date, most supply chain structuring has been designed around how to manage tax regimes. With a single tax regime, this will change, and supply chain structures will focus on driving business efficiencies. An example is that of warehousing. The old regime demands that warehouse management be based on arbitrage between varying VAT rates across states. This is expected to change to bring in economic efficiencies and more customer-centricity going ahead.

Manufacturers, however, are concerned about the following aspects:

  • Increase in immediate working capital requirements: Branch transfers and depo transfers will be treated as taxable under GST; IGST will be applicable on these transfers. This increases the requirement for immediate working capital. Another reason for increased working capital requirements is that the receipt of advance is taxable as per GST rules. Also, stock transfers are treated as “supply” and hence are taxable under the GST regime.
  • More stringent and elaborate transaction management: GST aims to achieve better tax compliance. To make this possible, manufacturers must work towards streamlining existing transactions; this means additional resources and costs. For example, under GST, credit in respect to an invoice can be taken only up to one year of the invoice date. Also, the provision of reverse charge means that the liability to pay tax falls on the recipient of goods/services instead of the supplier. The payment of reverse charge is dependent on the time of supply (30 days from the date of issue of invoice by the supplier in case of goods and 60 days for services).These changes will require manufacturers to carefully assess and track their supply processes, especially the timelines. This may mean hiring a better skilled compliance workforce, and better systems and software. More legal considerations will also mean more costs.
  • Lack of clarity on local exemptions: Despite GST being proposed as a unifying platform for indirect tax, all the components for manufacturing are not yet clear. One such area is localized area-based exemptions. The old structure provides certain exemptions for certain goods in specific states (for example the North East or hilly states). Under GST, most of these exemptions are likely to be removed, resulting in a negative cost-impact on these manufacturers. Such companies must reassess their financial position in view of such likely changes.

Overall, one can say that the impact of GST on the manufacturing sector is positive. It provides a unique opportunity to streamline business operations to become more compliance and profitability-oriented, rather than tax-oriented. It puts power in the hands of business leaders to bring about positive change and steer their enterprises on a growth path, powered by GST-compliance.

Read more of our content on GST by clicking here.

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Oct 24, 2018

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6 Quick Tips to Consider Before Applying for a Short-Term Business Loan Online

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) have received a tremendous fillip of late, with the Government pitching in to give a hands up to this very vital business sector. SMEs engaged in businesses ranging from electronics to ad services, or from engineering to textile to handicrafts routinely face a cash crunch that handicaps their everyday operations, as well as hampers plans for expansion.

SMES and the short-term loan

It takes immense courage to begin your business, and taking risks of establishing, sustaining, and expanding it can be prohibitive for many. Financing is the fundamental issue here, and many businesses are compelled to shut shop or to approach banks in order to raise short-term business loans.

Finances are the lifeblood for any enterprise, and any business plan worth its salt must include sound planning for fund sources as well. Short-term business loans and short-term finance are available in plenty and offer SMEs a chance to overcome their temporary financial problems as also provide an opportunity to expand their business. However, these loans are not without pitfalls. Here are some tips that will help an SME to take a well-considered decision when it comes to applying for short-term business loans:

1. Do your homework

SMEs are recommended to do adequate research to identify the option that are most suitable to them. Occasionally, and especially if the borrower has a good credit score, a simple overdraft or line of credit can help the SME to tide over their cash flow problems. Bank loans carry low-interest rates, but the paperwork involved and time taken to sanction can be burdensome. Crowdfunding, inventory financing, and credit card financing are options that can be explored. Promoters also help to finance a large chunk of working capital requirements. But if a short-term loan is a final option, a careful look at the costs involved can help to tip the scales over.

2. Try online loans

Short-term online loans are meant to be repaid anywhere between 90 days to three years. They are quick, convenient and flexible. A good deal of the paperwork process is cut off and friendly financiers also help eliminate the traditional application method of back-and-forth conversation. The huge advantage lies in not necessarily having to offer collateral. Provided an SME finds the right fintech lender, they can benefit from the speed of digital processing. Additionally, preclosure penalties and hidden charges are also avoided. Genuine financiers will also provide the convenience of flexible loan tenures.

3. Measure business liquidity

There is always a possibility that even a profitable SME can run into cash-flow problems, regardless of the numbers reflected on the cash-book records. Delays in receivables have hurt many a lucrative business, and are in fact a common cause for cash-flow mismatches. In such cases, measuring the liquidity of the business can be very useful for an SME in order to find an alternative way to mitigate problems of a cash crunch. The proper evaluation of liquidity can be extremely beneficial, and can be measured in two ways:

Quick Ratio It shows the capability of business in covering current liabilities with current assets, and utilises the formula:

Quick Ratio= (Current Assets – Inventory)/ Current Liabilities 

Working Capital

It is measured by calculating the difference between the current assets and current liabilities, with the formula:

Working Capital = Current Assets – Current Liabilities

Getting these figures in hand can help measure business solvency, and thus available funds can be duly channelised and prioritised.

4. Capitalise on credit score
It pays to maintain a good credit score history, in more ways than one. A good credit ranking can help you bargain for lower interest rates on short term business loans. Also, it opens up room for tapping into other means of raising money, such as getting into partnerships or seeking non-traditional lenders for funding.

On occasion, the lender may analyze both your business and your personal debt load, in addition to your credit score. If any of these is already high, the lender may hesitate to extend or provide fresh credit for your business. So, it is important to keep a tight rein over your credit utilisation, so that the services offered by the lender are not affected by your credit score.

5. Check APR

While comparing and selecting the best short-term business loan and finance service, one must always keep in mind the number of applications they are filing for apply for the term loan. After receiving multiple loan offers, one must select the most suitable loan offer by comparing the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of every term loan lender. This is perhaps the most important calculation to estimate how expensive a loan is. Once you understand the logic of short-term business loans, it is easy to decide whether or not getting a particular loan is a right choice in terms of its actual cost.

6. Be ready for lender’s queries

Things don’t end here. There are chances that the lending party can contact the SME for verifying their documents that they submitted while applying for term loan. Thus, the SME owner must always be ready for answering any query regarding their documentation or regarding their future goals for the company. A small preparation toward this can prove to be very beneficial in getting a loan finalised. Ergo, shortfalls of cash may be inevitable, but not insuperable. A little bit of math and careful consideration of the choices can help you get the cash you need—hopefully at the price you can afford— without having to fall into a debt cycle.

Oct 24, 2018