As a product manager or developer, you know the importance of being able to build and deploy features quickly in order to stay competitive and meet the needs of your users. However, it can be easy to get bogged down by the development process, leading to delays and missed opportunities.
So, how can you build and deploy features faster? One approach is to use an existing UI framework.
The 5 steps
1. Leverage an existing UI framework
Using an existing framework like Tailwind to save significant time and effort when it comes to building out the user interface of your product.
- Install Tailwind: Install Tailwind by adding it to your project dependencies. If you're using a build tool like Webpack or Gulp, you'll need to configure it to process your CSS with Tailwind.
- Create a configuration file: Next, you'll need to create a configuration file for Tailwind. This file will allow you to customize the framework to meet your specific needs and design preferences.
- Familiarize yourself with the framework and it's components. You'll need this knowledge during the sketch process.
Sketch out high-level UI
Before diving into development, it's important to align your team on the overall vision for the product. Sketching out the user interface in a tool like Miro or Figma can help to communicate this vision and ensure that everyone is on the same page. You'll want to make sure you're keeping an eye on the Tailwind components as you move through this process.
I typically recreate Tailwind components in a tool such as miro to ensure my sketches easily translate once in development.
- Start sketching: Begin by sketching out the main pages or screens of your product, focusing on the layout, navigation, and overall flow. Don't worry about getting all the details right at this stage – the goal is to create a high-level overview that communicates your vision.
- Add details: Once you have the main pages or screens roughed out, you can start adding in more details, such as buttons, inputs, and other interactive elements.
- As ideas come to light, modify the UI to adhere to the existing Tailwind components. This will make development that much quicker.
- Review and refine: Once you have a complete sketch, review it with your team and make any necessary revisions. This is a good time to get feedback and ensure that everyone is on the same page before moving forward. You'll want to continue to cross reference Tailwind to ensure the screens in miro can easily be recreated in Tailwind.
Once you have a clear vision for the UI, it's time to start building out the individual components using the framework you selected. Adhere to the vision set in step 2 to ensure that everything fits together seamlessly.
- Identify the components you need: Next, you'll need to identify the specific components from the sketches in Tailwind.
- Assemble the UI using the Tailwind components. The idea here is you're assembling the UI with existing components rather than design and building from scratch. The closer you can adhere to existing components the faster your dev, QA and deployment process will be.
- Customize your styles: If the pre-designed classes provided by Tailwind don't meet your needs, you can use the configuration file to customize your styles. This allows you to create your own classes or override the defaults provided by the framework. I'll typically stick to the out of the box Tailwind styles when I am validating a product unless a component is really off the mark.
- At this point, ask the team for another round of feedback. The UI should be in a near completed state at this point. The full interactivity of the UI will provide the team a realistic understanding of the final product.
Hook up the backend
With the UI in place, it's time to connect everything to the backend and make sure everything is functioning as intended.
- Identify the components that need to be hooked up: The first step is to identify the specific Tailwind components that need to be connected to the backend. These might include things like forms, buttons, or other interactive elements.
- Determine the necessary server-side functionality: Next, you'll need to determine the server-side functionality that is needed to support the front-end components. This might include things like creating a database connection, processing form submissions, or querying data from an API.
- Implement server-side logic: With the necessary server-side functionality identified, you'll need to implement the logic to support it. This might involve writing code in a language like PHP, Python, or Ruby, or using a framework like Express or Rails.
- Connect the front-end and back-end: With the server-side logic in place, you can then connect the front-end components built with Tailwind to the backend. This might involve adding event listeners to buttons, submitting forms via AJAX, or making API calls to the server.
- Test and debug: Once everything is connected, it's important to thoroughly test and debug your application to ensure that everything is working as intended. This might involve testing different user flows and checking for error messages or other issues.
Once everything is tested and ready to go, it's time to deploy the new feature to your users.
By following these steps, you can streamline your development process and build and deploy features 3x faster.