Why enterprises need a
Design Delivery process
Design handoff is a critical part of the product development process, but it's not enough.
Even great product teams struggle with design handoff
66% of designers
spend 4-8 hours per week explaining design files.
65% of developers
spend 4-8 hours per week interpreting design files.
57% of product managers
spend 4-8 hours per week in meetings about design files.
Ship quality digital experiences faster with Design Delivery
The world’s most successful companies haven’t just gone digital — they’ve prioritized building delightful, frictionless user experiences.
UX-led companies see 32% more revenue
Source: McKinsey study.
But, is your team’s product development workflow ensuring that developers are given exactly what they need to build toward? And does it allow your designer’s visions to be executed as it was intended?
In order to build great digital experiences, there needs to be an airtight handoff and two-way communication between design and development teams, or what we at Zeplin call Design Delivery.
What is Design Delivery? And how is it different from design handoff?
Design handoff is the moment after design creation and before development, when designers send their work over to the development or engineering teams to build and bring to life. It’s when designers provide technical specifications, like dimensions, colors, text styles and padding values — all the details that developers need to start building.
Sadly, the design handoff process is rarely as seamless as it should be, and ends up necessitating significant project management, with Slack messages and emails flying back and forth to clarify doubts, identify missing specs, and communicate updates.
Zeplin was founded on the belief that handoff can be better. The transition from design creation to development requires a distinct workflow that we call Design Delivery.
Instead of just handing off specs, Design Delivery offers a clear separation between the design canvas, where the designer can continue iterating, and the “locked” designs that the rest of the team can reference. These “locked” designs are organized in a collaborative workspace that non-designers can easily understand and developers can clearly see what needs to be built. To accelerate development, Design Delivery also includes making sure that the same design system used by the design team is automatically extended to the development team.
Ultimately, Design Delivery ensures the team ships a product that is as delightful, intuitive, and engaging as the designer intended. Products ship faster and more efficiently with Design Delivery.
So who’s involved in the Design Delivery process?
Typically, the handoff process is just between designers and developers. By comparison, Design Delivery involves many more stakeholders:
- Product managers
- QA engineers
- Project managers
- Product executives
There’s a lot of different skill sets at play in this process, and communication can be challenging with so many different styles and tools.
Zeplin was designed as a collaborative space that any stakeholder can easily understand.
Product teams that use Zeplin save an average of 10 hours per week per employee.
How does Design Delivery impact user experience?
A smooth Design Delivery process benefits the entire team, the entire company, and the end-user.
Design Delivery boosts product teams’ speed and efficiency so they can ship quality products faster, helping them also fine-tune the product development process. It eliminates the need for verbal change requests and minimizes the challenges of working together with globally distributed teams. It helps clarify swim lanes and roles, which allows teams to maximize their skills and spend their time where it matters.
Design Delivery streamlines the designer-developer handoff and strengthens team collaboration. And automation and Styleguides significantly bring down the amount of time spent on QAing.
Finally, the improvements and standardizations across the entire workflow will be reflected in the quality of your products. Great design handoff improves the user experience of the final product, and it maintains consistency across brand assets.
Design Delivery isn’t new — it’s just more important than ever
Using a design tool for Design Delivery doesn’t work. Here’s why.
When designers try to prepare their files for development using design tools like Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD, elements get lost in translation, impacting the final product. Design tools are built for designers. Using design tools for handoff has major pitfalls.
- Unfamiliar tools waste time
Non-designers don’t have experience navigating these complex tools, so it creates bottlenecks and a lot of time spent trying to figure out a tool they don’t use daily. It’s like operating in an unfamiliar language.
- Tracking feedback is highly manual
Providing feedback (and keeping track of it) within massive design files is incredibly manual, and leads to bits of feedback falling through the cracks.
- Live editing leads to chaos
When designers continue to work on live design files and developers don’t know which design is final, it can lead to duplicate efforts, more back-and-forth, brand inconsistencies — and potentially even compliance issues.
- Version control is challenging
If developers send a design back to designers with feedback, the designers will need to send over another version with those changes implemented that shows the difference between the versions. It gets complex, very quickly!
All of these issues cause design work and development work to become more siloed — and that creates friction between teams. Poor collaboration can also lead to delayed timelines, duplicated efforts, and errors in development.
By adding a tool like Zeplin to the workflow between designers and developers, these problems are all avoided, giving everyone valuable time back in their days to work on the next project.
The step of translating the wall of screens in Figma to an organized hierarchy in Zeplin helps connect the designers’ creative work to the developers’ production work.
Obstacles faced by enterprise product teams
Enterprise product teams are constantly shipping new products, handling hundreds of files, working across timezones, departments, and skill sets, and generally trying to keep up with massive demand.
Highly skilled employees waste time going back and forth over email and Slack about versions, files, specs, and missing information. A Design Delivery solution centered around clear communication and quality control prevents these bumps in the road and promotes alignment, increased quality control and brand compliance, and room for scale.
When a developer is working on building a design, they’ll likely come across doubts and questions about a spec, a request, or a feature. “Why’d the designer want this drop-down to look like this?”
But, using a tool like Zeplin allows designers to maintain version control on a screen-by-screen level instead of a project level, incorporate the “why” behind a design with Annotations, and add the mapped-out user journeys with Flows. Commit messages even note what’s changed since the last version. Collaborative projects in Zeplin leave space for clear, organized feedback and teams are aligned better than ever before.
In fact, Zeplin helps improve team alignment by 94%.
Zeplin has been a great addition to our product toolkit. It’s provided us with the ability to see progress, review designs, and give real-time feedback all in one place, enabling us to collaborate more effectively and operate more efficiently — ultimately allowing us to increase our speed to market to deliver new customer-centric digital experiences.
Quality control is manual and tedious. Some teams have QA engineers whose whole job is to ensure that nothing breaks, but they’re typically not the only ones going back to check on designers’ and developers’ work. This process often involves manually extracting technical information and resolving doubts — again — over Slack and email, or in long lists of feedback.
These employees and teams could spend that additional QA time dreaming up, designing, or building your company’s next major innovation and running at your ambitious goals.
With Zeplin, the time-consuming and error-prone process of documenting things like regulatory language, design tokens, components, colors and spacing is automated.
It’s about consistency, reusability and organization. The result of working this way is fewer errors, more efficient QA testing and a high-quality product. Now we’re working much faster and we rarely have issues.
Having disjointed handoff workflows leads to massive time waste as product managers, designers, developers, marketers, and many others end up spending more time confirming when a design is final than they do building great products. Scaling is almost impossible due to manual workflows, files transferred by hand, nontechnical workarounds, and bottlenecks at every turn. And to top it all off, deciphering design files is very challenging for non-designers. When there is a bridge between the design source of truth and the developer code base, collaboration is easier and design systems can scale.
In major companies, there are often dozens of links to manage per project. With Design Delivery using Zeplin, each project houses everything all together.
Design system rules and libraries need to be accessible and usable by every team, not just the design team, and Zeplin makes this happen. The design components will also be synced to the code system, meaning you’ll only have one source of truth between code and design, making growth even easier.
Benefits of prioritizing UX/UI and Design Delivery
- Boosts product teams’ speed and efficiency so they can ship quality products faster
- Provides a tactical approach to streamlining the designer-developer handoff
- Maintains consistency across brand assets and standardizes workflows
- Reduces time spent on QA
- Strengthens team collaboration and relationships between teams
- Fine-tunes the product development process
- Maximizes skills on the team with clear roles
All of this leads to a more delightful user experience.
When product teams work together with Zeplin, they work better.
How Disney Streaming saves time and achieves brand consistency with Zeplin
Implementing Zeplin helped Disney improve the design delivery process on an enterprise team managing over 800 screens.
“Zeplin is our Design Delivery and engineering source of truth,” says Davy Fung, Product Design Manager, Design Systems, Disney Streaming. His team uses Zeplin to help keep track of files, to make sure every piece of the puzzle stays on brand, and to save development and QA teams hours of work.
Leveraging style guides
Zeplin Styleguides allowed Disney Streaming to keep all of its colors, styles, and components into a central hub that updates across platforms — and during the building process, developers can inspect any element and see the style metadata.
Improving design file hygiene with Sections and Tags
Disney Streaming puts a lot of emphasis on file hygiene in order to ensure that teams can build on their existing success, repurpose where possible, and above all, grow and scale.
The Sections and Tags features in Zeplin allow the team to manage its design files and name and sort screens as needed.
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How enterprise teams are improving product development with Zeplin
With simple, streamlined design handoff, teams can focus on what matters: valuing every employee’s skills and ensuring the product they create together meet and exceed their lofty goals.
Here’s how teams are addressing product development challenges using Zeplin
"Given that we are spread across different offices and different time zones, the ability to centrally comment on any screens and provide consistent and quick feedback is invaluable for rapid design and development,"
"Zeplin saved a month off of each project, eliminating unnecessary back & forth exchanges and change requests, it just happened overnight,"
Zeplin has never been an obstacle, but rather a booster for our process. It’s astonishing to see how it always manages to be one step in front of our needs, becoming a “must have” within our product design toolbox.
Zeplin is our secret sauce for turning pixel-perfect designs into a living reality. There's no other tool that allows such a seamless ongoing handoff process for our Product teams.
We use Zeplin to publish completed designs for development, at the same time working on designs for the next release. Zeplin is an integral part of our creative and tech process, and it enables us to be more efficient during each sprint.
Enterprises using Zeplin ship faster Enterprises using Zeplin ship faster
By providing an organized, collaborative workspace and establishing clarity on exactly what to build, Zeplin makes it easier for teams to manage large-scale designs and development workflows.
See how Zeplin can help your team scale.