How Designers, Developers, & Businesses Work Together (Part 2)
By Ryan Spanswick, former Director of Design at Praxent
This article is the second in a three-part series on human-centered design processes for new product development.
The best digital products are well rounded. Not only do they succeed at accomplishing a given computing task, they actually transform your business and provide a significant return. They accomplish what we call the “3 W’s:”
Software that WINS
>> Read the first article in the series for three ways product leaders advocate for business needs.
Software that WOWS
Keep reading this second article in the series on designing digital products that people want to buy.
Software that WORKS
>> Read the last article in the series on building functional digital products on time and on budget.
To achieve the “3 W’s,” design and development teams have to work with each other, informed by user research, product strategy and business constraints. Design and development can clash over form and function when they aren’t aligned under the unifying umbrella of both the end user’s experience and the client’s business objectives.
When design and development orient everything they do around the end user’s experience, the result is a product that seamlessly accomplishes tasks for the user (WORKS), does so in a frictionless and intuitive way (WOWS) while simultaneously making or saving money for the business and enabling it to scale (WINS).
>> Learn why UX design is key to competitive advantage.
Focus on the User: Research, Prototypes & Usability Testing
Design teams include user researchers, UX designers, visual designers and user interface designers — with individuals often filling multiple roles.
The design team’s goal is to advocate for the demands of end-users, ensuring a product will sell. They are responsible for challenging product concept assumptions and designing interfaces that anticipate true user needs and values.
Design Team Role | UX Phase Human-Centered Design
Design teams work to understand in clear and specific terms the people for whom a product is intended. This means understanding why they would use the product, what they would hope to gain from using the product, and the context in which they would use it.
Their work revolves around three core activities: user research, prototyping and usability testing.
The goal of user research is to find out who would use a proposed product and what they would hope to accomplish by using that product. Researchers conduct user interviews or contextual inquiries to determine if the perceived need for a product is real. They then translate field research into maps and diagrams designers can use to create mockups.
Among other tools, researchers develop and refine user personas to help define and communicate core user traits.
Prototypes & Usability Testing
UX designers create an interactive prototype of the product then test it on at least five real people who fit user personas. They then refine the design based on test results. Then they test and refine again, as needed.
Designing 3 Sprints Ahead
The user research and design phase provides a working foundation for development. It’s the first time the design is made reality, but not the last time user experience is the focus of the project. It’s crucial to maintain focus on the user experience throughout development.
One way design teams make sure the user experience gets proper attention throughout product development is to design in increments as development moves forward.
At Praxent, we strive to design new features three whole sprints ahead of development. That means that each design piece is given enough time to be tested and tweaked for optimal user experience before it gets set in stone at the development stage. As developers are working on building out a feature, the designers are working on designing the next.
Design Informed by Business & Development Constraints
During the initial design phases of new product development, it’s important to include software engineers, product managers, product owners and strategists in the conversation.
Design teams should make sure their product prototypes not only suit users but conform to business and development parameters:
- The concept must be optimized for market success and financial return.
- The product’s design should be compatible with the technologies that will be used to build it.
- It must be feasible to build the product from a development standpoint without going over timeline and budget.
Product Prototyping for Reduced Risk
New product development is risky. How do you know your product will sell? What if it ends up being too expensive to finish? Usability tests with clickable prototypes are critical to smart product management for new digital products.
Maximize ROI on new digital products by testing your concept before investing in development.
Download the free guide to ClickModel® software prototyping.
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