How Designers, Developers, & Businesses Work Together (Part 3)
By Ryan Spanswick, former Director of Design at Praxent
This article is the last in a three-part series on the human-centered design approach to new product development.
For digital products that are not only human-centered and optimally functioning, but also sensitive to business constraints, designers, product leaders, engineers, coders and stakeholders must work together.
This series outlines a three-part process for cross-disciplinary human-centered design. During each phase, key players drive forward one of three core aspects of product success. The phases overlap for balanced results:
1. Focus on the Business: Cost, Timeline & Priorities
>> Learn how product leaders advocate for business objectives in a human-centered design approach to new product development.
2. Focus on the User: Research, Prototypes & Usability Testing
>> Learn 4 ways design teams advocate for users in the second part of this series.
3. Focus on Functionality: Agile Development for Efficiency & Performance
Keep reading to learn how developers and engineers interact with the human-centered design process.
Focus on Functionality: Agile Development for Efficiency & Performance
Architects, engineers and developers code and deploy the interfaces and features given to them by the UX design team.
Their goal is to advocate for performance, making sure the build can be executed on time and still function optimally.
Development Team Role | Development Phase Human-Centered Design
The development team is responsible for executing the “build” portion of the product roadmap while adhering to business constraints such as timeline and budget. They are also responsible for developing features in a way that’s sensitive to user needs, as defined by the UX design team.
Development teams deliver finished products to users through four main activities:
>> Discover fully integrated product design, strategy and Agile development.
How Developers Influence Product Design & Strategy
In a human-centered design environment where teams cooperate to create user and business-oriented digital products, the development team should influence the direction of both design and strategy in three key ways:
- Offering input during the design phase so that user interfaces are optimized for technical performance
- Providing engagement leaders with time and effort estimates for each feature
- Weighing in on early discussions about product concept, making sure plans are technically sound
Prioritizing Efficient & Accurate Code with DevOps
DevOps is the process of working out automated systems, pipelines, and infrastructure for development. It marries development — actual building of the product — with operations — the behind-the-scenes work needed to carry out the product-building.
Here are the main ways to invest in an infrastructure and system that will allow for smooth and on-time development:
- Create multiple code environments
- Automate the process for build-integrate-test-deploy
- Implement version control
>> 3 Keys to Executing DevOps (Code Environments, Automated Testing/Deploy, Version Control)
Design Team Role | Development Phase Human-Centered Design
During the development phase, designers collaborate with engineers throughout the sprint, advocating for user needs and clarifying design intentions. To ensure smooth collaboration, designers work three sprints ahead of developers.
Engagement Leader Role | Development Phase Human-Centered Design
During the development phase, engagement leaders (such as product owners or managers) enforce the product roadmap, ensuring on-time and on-budget development.
User Stories: A Bridge Between Design & Development
Once design teams have clickable prototypes, wireframes and other tools for illustrating the digital product, it’s time to translate those visuals into instructions developers can use to write code. Traditionally, those detailed instructions are called software requirements.
In agile development, software requirements are written in the form of user stories. Instead of creating one long, prescriptive set of instructions for the entire product, agile teams only write the user stories for the features that will be developed in the upcoming sprint. That way, they can build upon finished features as they work toward finishing the minimum viable product.
>> Download a step-by-step guide and free templates for writing your own user stories with Gherkin syntax.
What Are User Stories?
Developers need to know exactly what a product is supposed to accomplish, in what context, and by whom. User stories delineate the various scenarios developers need to anticipate when coding a feature. They are written scenarios illustrating what the digital product needs to be able to do in any given circumstance.
Because they are written before they’re developed, user stories must be viewed as a flexible set of guidelines based on a current understanding of the product. Requirements may change as a result of client feedback or unexpected findings during development.
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