July 20, 2022

Software development: Product-driven or design-led?

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Most software developers work within project-oriented teams, since most companies are not startup vendors that can constantly reinvent themselves and deliver hot new products to market. Upgrades, integration and modernization projects carry forward a sizable estate of already coded software assets and third-party service dependencies.
A finished product implies reusability, and higher potential value for more use cases than the work output of a project.
But lately we are seeing a second shift – from product-led to design-led strategy. Some of the founders of today’s fastest growing unicorn vendors emerged from design schools and creative industry backgrounds.
Costume, or customer experience?
There’s a lot of technical and business acumen that a design-led team must develop beyond graphic design that goes into a successful customer experience.
Designers get asked to put ‘lipstick on a pig’ – pushing pixels to dress up an application visually without changing the underlying functionality.
Users expect clear controls and instructions within an interface, and on their phones or devices, they also expect sensory data – using cameras, haptics and audio inputs and outputs to maximize productivity.
Performance is also a huge factor in customer experience – an identical competitor that displays results two seconds slower will experience high abandonment rates.
When it’s incomplete, it’s ready to show
INABIAF. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature, goes the old developer maxim when software users don’t understand what they are seeing on the screen.
Revolutionary SaaS tools and smartphones apps accelerated design-first principles, as the current version of the application gets dynamically updated for the customer in near real-time. This continuous process merges redesigns into the CI/CD product lifecycle by introducing new user functionality and displays – even if they aren’t fully baked yet.
Laziness is the mother of innovation
If great design takes 50% of the time required to perform a task away from the customer, that’s a winning product that frees up a drastic improvement in productivity.
The low-code space and RPA movements provided hundreds of ways to leapfrog between UI and process-driven design and drag-and-drop easy application development without the technical skill hurdles.
The COVID crisis showed off the robustness of low-code for design-driven responsiveness to crisis conditions – take for instance the few banks that could step up with PPP relief loan applications using low-code within 3 months.
Designing a diverse team
We are all complex, autonomous beings, operating in different modes as end users of technology. When designing technology for others to use, we must wear a functional engineering hat. A customer service hat. A security hat. A human-centric hat.
Leading creative organizations favor higher levels of diversity within their teams, not just in terms of ethnicity and identity, but in the different intellectual perspectives that variety produces.
The Intellyx Take
Companies and industries that are internally project-focused rather than customer-focused are woefully unprepared for digital transformation.
Never settle for dogmatic standards when rapid innovation is called for.
Don’t let anyone tell you there is one best way to build software when there are always multiple valid design-led approaches. Distinguishing between conceptual possibilities is the very stuff of design-led development.

The original content of the note was published on SDtimes.com. To read the full note visit here

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