2022 Guide to Smooth Design Handoffs – Checklist and Tools

To all my developer friends out there, tell me you didn’t go through a similar situation to this. You can not say that, can you? Well, it is a tricky process – the design handoff. Some people might think I will talk about developer handoff, but that is a topic for another day.

In this blog post, I will talk about the problems of our developer friends – in other words, the handoff process.  I would like to show you how you can make it smoother, why it is necessary, and so on. Then, there is no need to wait! 

What is a Design Handoff?

What is a Design Handoff?

Design handoff refers to a stage of development in which developers implement the finished design. The collaboration between designers and developers is quite significant for a smooth design handoff. Most of the time, this is not the case. The weaker the collaboration, the more unwanted results will come out.

Why is a Smooth Design Handoff necessary?

Due to the tech world advancing extraordinarily fast, everyone is working under strict deadlines in order to deliver a project or finish a task. Thus, when there is a back and forth between two departments, you are using your limited time. This is one of the primary reasons why you need a smooth design handoff.

Why is a Smooth Design Handoff necessary?

Essentially, you can say that handoff processes, in general, are very similar to localization in that designs should be transformed into developer-oriented information. This way, these two departments can actually communicate.

If you can accomplish so, there are several benefits to it. First and foremost, each department and the members of the departments will only be needed to focus on their tasks. This way, you will see less back and forth.

The second benefit of a smooth design handoff is regarding UX. If you have a smooth design handoff, you can test a preferable UX to implement. Testing the UX design will have practically no deviation due to the mismatch between the original design and design implementation.

How to Ensure a Smooth Design Handoff in 6 Steps

How to Ensure a Smooth Design Handoff in 6 Steps

Now, you must be wondering how you can have a smooth design handoff just like I’ve listed the benefits. But how can you make such a change in your company? Well, by following the steps, let’s just discuss. 

1- Templates

Generally, the design handoff process is intricate, and you need to go back and forth quite frequently. Then, it makes sense to create templates to use anytime you want. To give you an example, you create a template for a specific task. Then, all you have to do is to follow that template whenever that task comes up to be accomplished.

This will save your precious time in that you will not deal with unnecessary back and forths of information.

2- Explain the Design

There are bits of information in the design that are oblique – which means that only the designers can understand what the bits try to convey. However, if you are ever to add icons, notes, etc., to the design, they will help you successfully.

Let’s take comments. For example, assume that you send PDFs of designs to your developer team, these comments can make your design more understandable, and they will not cause “visual pollution.” Your development team can open them whenever they need help, and this way, they will ask fewer questions.

3- Developers & Software

It is not every day that everyone gets every aspect of the software in an instant.

Sometimes, your development team can have problems understanding how this software works. You have to ask if they do or don’t understand the software you use. Also, you have to encourage them to ask questions regarding the software. There are plenty of examples of people not grasping how tools work and not asking any questions.

Though it might seem a burden to you, initially, these “training” sessions will be beneficial to you in the long run.

4- Meet with Development Team

Prior to the design handoff, you can meet with the development team. The main idea behind this tip is to inform developers about the way you share information – meaning on which platform you are sharing the folders and where they can find the designs. 

In a context like this, a thirty-minute meeting will be sufficient enough to talk about everything they have to know because almost all of the points have been made before you even start the meeting with them.

In a case where you and your teams work remotely, it is essential to record the meeting. This way, they can access information whenever they need to ask questions regarding the system.

5- Design Handoff Process

This tip roughly follows the first tip that is explained above. Generally, if not all the time, the design handoff is pretty much the same for most user stories; thus, you can build an explicit process. For example, the visual assets can be stored in one place, while the workflow can be shown in another tool. This is about being transparent.

The transparency of the work is quite important since the developers can only know how to find information without any back and forths this way. Thus, the result will be better collaboration and saving time.

6- Design System

Above, it is said that the handoff process resembles localization. A design system helps you with this localization process. If you ever are to create a design system, you will create an environment of collaboration in which there is a common language – or at least localization of the information from one side to the other will be much easier.

What a design system does is that it explains how the components of design behave and shows code examples that will completely explain the user interface and visual aspects. This way, the design team, and the development team can find common ground, then communicate based on that common ground provided for the design.

So, these are the tips you have to follow in order to have a better handoff process. Now, it is time to see which tools you can utilize in order to realize these tips.

Best Tools for Better Design Handoffs

In order to have a more smooth handoff process, you can utilize tools – actually, it is kind of an unwritten rule to use tools. These are the ones that are widely accepted by the industry. So, let’s check them out.

1- Mockplus Cloud

Let’s start this list with Mockplus Cloud. It is a tool that is designed for designers and developers so that they can collaborate, prototype, and hand off designs in one common space. It is safe to say that with the help of this tool, designers and developers can do anything regarding the handoff process.

Designers can utilize this tool to import wireframes, prototypes, and other visual assets from other tools – such as Photoshop and Adobe XD. The related specifications of any design, e.g., spacing, measurements, and assets, are automatically generated by the tool. This enables designers to hand off every design to developers with a single link.

After developers join the design, they can inspect designs, see code snippets, and download assets without breaking a sweat. Since the projects are linked with design systems, developers can view everything about the design – fonts, colors, etc. All the resources can be automatically adjusted to the platform you are developing for.

2- Marvel

No, it is not the one with Avengers. Still, it comes to save you from all the burden – just like Avengers.

Marvel is known for its user interface, which is highly user-friendly. The simplicity also makes it easier and quicker to master. This means that it is a foolproof handoff tool that can help you synchronize various interactions without too much hassle.

As a web-based application, Marvel works best with Sketch. If you use Sketch as your screen design tool, Marvel becomes an opportunity you don’t want to miss. However, provided that you don’t use Sketch, there might not be any reason to use it. It is up to you.

3- InVision

Finally, you have InVision. It is a prototyping tool known by almost everyone in the industry. It is essentially a product design platform, but don’t think that you can’t hand off designs with this tool. On the contrary, it has a handoff feature, plus it supports various plugins and integrations. It can also be integrated into Sketch and PhotoShop – this widget is called Craft.

With Craft, you can synchronize your designs into InVision. Thus, if someone makes a change to the design, all of the team members can see it, as well as, seeing the previous designs. When you transfer a design to InVision, developers can generate real codes based on the designs.

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I create a handoff document?

There are five factors you have to pay attention to in order to create a handoff document. These steps are; mockups, interactions, copies of templates, specs or assets, and a handoff checklist. After you have compiled these five, you will create a handoff document. 


How do you hand a design off to engineering?

Customer success platforms like ChurnZero, survey tools such as Feedier, and user adoption tools such as UserGuiding can help you keep in touch with your customers.

smooth handoff design guide

Mert Aktas

Mert is the Marketing Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.

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