Like all professions, the term “Designer” comes with a set of stereotypes and assumed traits, but there are many kinds of designers. Some will talk your ear off about the narrative of your users and your product. Some want to change the world. Some just want to make something beautiful. Overall, I’ve worked with enough that it’s safe to say that most designers:
- Are opinionated
- Value emotional response over data
- Want to make something unique
While some will work to fulfill their needs to the detriment of the product (if not the company), good designers strive to:
- Know when they’re wrong
- Balance creativity with objective data
- Prioritize user and business needs over their ego
Personalities will clash and arguments will inevitably be had, but finding balance between objective decisions and creative solutions is an integral part of both fostering a creative environment and building captivating products.
Being design-friendly is not just about having a good looking logo and slapping polish on your product. Building a design-forward organization means including design in the process— from product definition to execution — and keeping the emotional value of your product in mind when making data or feedback driven decisions.
Integrating a design process into a development process can be difficult. Aside from the inherent differences in personality types, values, and goals, the design process — especially in the early phases of product definition — is not predictable or easily regimented into two-week sprints.
For an initial product design, it is common to create “Sprint Zero,” a strategic phase of defining a product that can adapt to research and early usability or prototype testing. Planning this far in advance can be difficult, but the importance of an efficient product definition phase can’t be overlooked.
Once a product is in market and being updated regularly, it gets a little easier. With a well thought out product roadmap, each feature design phase can easily be extrapolated from the development schedule. A regular cadence can be established and design can be given a flexible time-frame to prototype and iterate on product additions before development starts.
Software by Design
With design established within an organization as a holistic process — not just the formal or strategic tasks — the true value of incorporating design becomes more apparent, meaningful, and rewarding.