Top 5 Design Collaboration Tips for Project Managers

Designers have their own working styles, so it's crucial to use the right techniques to collaborate. Read these design collaboration tips to learn how

Written by:
Jun 19, 2023
Last Update:
Oct 15, 2023
5 mins read

As project managers, the importance of a having a concrete collaborative design process with your entire team cannot be overstated.

Especially with design teams, designers are the architects of your vision, transforming abstract ideas into user-friendly and visually appealing products. Your design team is also your allies in problem-solving, idea testing, and user communication.

But, they can't just go out and 'Just do it this way' for you, it doesn't work.

Two person doing the wrong way of brainstorming sessions

However, we understand that this collaboration can sometimes feel like a..headache to deal with as a project manager.

Designers have their unique processes, tools, and preferences that may not always align with yours.

Every cross functional teams may also have different opinions, expectations, and feedback styles that can lead to conflicts or misunderstandings.

So, how can you navigate this design collaboration process more gracefully? Here are five nuggets of wisdom that we've gathered over the years:

  • Communicate your 'Why' before 'How'
  • Give your brief in detail so it doesn't confuse multiple team members
  • Use the right tools for better collaborative design process
  • Challenge but always encourage healthy debates between team members
  • Involve every team member, especially designers in the decision making process

In this article, we will elaborate deeper into these 4 pointers that we mentioned above.

Creative teams discussing design ideas with marketing team

Communicate your 'Why' before 'How'

Producy designers are not just order-takers.

They are creative professionals who need to understand the purpose and value of their work.

So, when you assign a task, don't just tell them what to do. Explain why you're asking them to do it. Help them see the problem you're trying to solve, the goals of the project, and how their design fits into the grand scheme of things.

For instance, if you're asking them to redesign a user interface, explain why.

Is it because users are having difficulty navigating the current design? Are there new features that need to be incorporated? Or is it part of a larger rebranding effort?

By explaining the 'why', you can help the designer understand your perspective and expectations.

This will not only motivate them to put their best foot forward but also ensure that their efforts align with the project's objectives.

Give Your Brief in Detail (Use Plain English!)

A well-crafted design brief is like a roadmap for a successful design collaboration. It should outline the scope, requirements, deliverables, timeline, and budget of the project. It should also provide useful information like user personas, user stories, user flows, wireframes, mockups, branding guidelines, and so on.

A good design brief is more than just a list of tasks. It's a strategic document that guides the design process. It should provide enough details for the designer to start working on the project without confusion or ambiguity.

But it should also be flexible enough to allow for some creativity and iteration.

To create a good design brief, you should involve the designer from the start of the project. Ask them what they need to know and what they expect from you.

Listen to their questions and feedback and incorporate them into the brief. Review the brief together and make sure you're on the same page before moving forward with the design collaboration.

A visual designer using a design collaboration tool to talk with other team members

Always Use Design Collaboration Tools

You can't have a solid collaborative design process without the right tools.

Some of the benefits of using collaboration tools at work are:

  • Improving communication and collaboration between different teams: Supercharge your communication with your team members, clients, and other stakeholders in real-time. You can also share your designs, files, and comments in one place, making it easier to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Sharing ideas, feedback, and comments with ease: Helps you to brainstorm more effectively and generate better solutions by bringing together different ideas and perspectives. You can also get feedback from your team or clients and make changes accordingly.
  • Increasing the quality of your work: You improve your design outcome by allowing you to track and revert changes, see each others’ changes in real-time, and comment on specific design sections. You can also iterate on your concepts faster, work directly with other designers and stakeholders, and maintain your designs in one location.

Some of the best collaborative design tools that you could start using today:

Figma Homepage
  • Figma (Personal Favourite ⭐️) : Figma enables you to co-create with different team in one space. Work together in real time and empower designers to create in new ways. Plus, keep workflows efficient with tools that give every team visibility throughout the process.
Invision Homepage
  • InVision: InVision is an all-in-one collaborative online whiteboard centralizes your entire workflow so that you can ensure alignment at every stage of your process and get work done among your design teams.
Miro Homepage
  • Miro: Miro is a visual collaboration platform that supercharge collaborative initiative by empowering teams to connect, collaborate, and create together. It is an online whiteboard that lets you brainstorm, diagram, map, design, and more with your team in real-time.

Encourage Healthy Debate

Design is not a dictatorship. It's a creative process where ideas, opinions, and feedback should flow freely. So, don't shy away from a little debate or disagreement.

If a designer provide feedback that sounded like a challenge to your assumptions or suggestions, don't take it personally. Instead, listen to their reasoning and try to understand their point of view.

Healthy debate can lead to innovation and improvement. It can help you uncover hidden issues, explore different options, and find better solutions. It can also help you build trust and rapport with the designer.

So, encourage open communication and respect different perspectives. Remember, the goal is not to win an argument, but to create the best product possible.

Collaborative environment that results in a successful product launches

Involve Designers in Decision Making

Designers are not just executors of your decisions. They are stakeholders in your product with valuable insights to offer. So, makesure to include them in the decision-making process. This will not only show them that you value their contribution but also help you make more informed and effective decisions.

For example, if you're deciding on the color scheme for a new product, ask for the designer's input.

They might have insights into color psychology, current design trends, or accessibility considerations that you haven't thought of. Or if you're prioritizing features for a new release, ask the designer about the design implications of each feature. They might be able to suggest a more efficient design approach or identify potential design challenges that could affect the timeline or budget.

Involving designers in decision making also gives them a sense of ownership and investment in the product. It shows them that their work matters and that they are an integral part of the team. This can boost their motivation and commitment to the project, leading to better design outcomes.


Collaborating with designers can be a rewarding experience if done right. It's not always easy, and it can sometimes feel like a dance. But with clear communication, a comprehensive brief, healthy debate, and inclusive decision making, you can navigate this from early stages to launches more gracefully.

By following these tips, you can improve your design collaboration workflow and foster a more productive and harmonious working relationship with your designers.

You can also ensure that your product meets the needs of your users and achieves your business goals.

Remember, everyone is equally invested , working towards the same goal – creating amazing products that users love. And as a seasoned project manager, I can tell you that there's nothing more satisfying than seeing a product you've worked on make a positive impact on users' lives.

So, embrace the dance of design collaboration. Learn from each other, support each other, and celebrate each other's successes. And most importantly, enjoy the journey.

Because at the end of the day, it's not just about the product you create, but also the relationships you build and the growth you experience along the way.

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About our author

photo of David Yap
Written by
David Yap

David is the founder of Zensite, a product design agency based in Singapore. Since 2016, David have been involved in many UI UX related topics covering user experience, product design, digital experience and also founded Friends of Figma, a Figma Community in Malaysia.

photo of Fiha Febiala
Reviewed by
Fiha Febiala

Fiha is a passionate product designer hailing from Indonesia. With a background as a Frontend developer, Fiha transitioned my career into the dynamic world of product design. Fiha is dedicated to translating conceptual visions into user-friendly interfaces that resonate with users. In meantime, Fiha serve as a mentor, guiding aspiring individuals who seek to delve deeper into the realms of UI/UX.


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