The Secrets of Effective Design Teamwork

Collaboration matters. Here’s how to get it right

Joanna Ngai
4 min readFeb 20, 2018


A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.
— Simon Sinek

Teamwork can be defined as a group of people working together towards a common purpose or goal. But this is easier said than done. Even bringing together a group of designers can bubble up many different perspectives on how to accomplish a goal. Sometimes despite your best effort, there may be natural friction between people of different personality types, miscommunication and other conflicts.

Here’s are 4 tips to build effective design teamwork and collaboration, and help ensure that your team is both productive and happy.

1. Build a strong structure

Clear communication on a compelling team direction provides such structure to a fast moving design team. The purpose of providing underlying structure is is to provide additional streams of communication through tools, organization and a timeline of needs so everyone is aware of the common goal(s).

Design teams are most productive when they know that the work is meaningful and adds value to the long term strategy of the business.

This can be through a written brief, or a blueprint of the proposed project plan. Just make sure the right set of stakeholders are working together to fill in any gaps in information. A strong underlying structure brings together teams from different backgrounds or people who may have different metrics on success. If you can agree what the high level goals are, then you reduce conflicts as you make decisions.

2. Streamline your design workflow

Going into the nitty-gritty of how things are done can get lost among the stream of all the daily tasks. However, if we’re all so busy making things, we don’t have time to notice that our coworker is using a common design tool in a improved way, or if they’ve found a simple workaround to that frustrating Adobe issue you’ve been having.

Even something as simple as a file naming system improves organization — which adds structure to an often unstructured design process that may…



Joanna Ngai

UX Designer at Google, illustrator, green tea drinker | UX for Beginners