In my experience as a designer on complex software projects, I have come to realize that all people involved on a product team (developers, designers, and stakeholders) need to share certain universal values which influence the design of a software product.
These values are:
Collaboration vs. process and protocol
Making the product work vs. defining how the product works
In short, the quality of design is a reflection of the quality of communication. Likewise, progress is measured by how much effort results in working software delivered to the customer.
Improving communication between designers and developers is as simple as placing designers side-by-side with the whole development team. The positive side-effect of doing this is a reduction in time to report issues and request changes.
Other positive side-effects of co-locating designers with the whole team might be:
Experimentation with novel and useful features
Fast and simple solutions to complex problems
Improvement of the overall customer experience
It seems counter-intuitive, but product design is not the conscious act of generating designs. Instead, it is rapid and continuous learning. Learning about how customers use the product, and pivoting in response to that feedback throughout every software development phase.
Customer feedback can be obtained through frequent usability testing with working software, and informal customer interviews that reveal underlying customer motivations and needs. By sharing information with the whole team through rich communication channels such as workshops and retrospectives, the learning is naturally integrated back into the software development cycle.
Design is an evolutionary and collaborative activity. When people embrace this fact, cool and interesting things happen.
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.
Thoughtworks acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land where we work and live, and their continued connection to Country. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were the world's first scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.
As a company, we invite Thoughtworkers to be actively engaged in advancing reconciliation and strengthen their solidarity with the First Peoples of Australia. Since 2019, we have been working with Reconciliation Australia to formalize our commitment and take meaningful action to advance reconciliation. We invite you to review our Reconciliation Action Plan.