What does it mean designing in a development lead company? To me - the same thing it means designing in any other, with just a few different turns in the road to get to the end goal.
Because regardless of who we are and what we do, there is something that inherently exists at the centre - who is using it, why, and what is the problem that my design is solving. In defining this and developing a solution, it tends to boil down to the balance between the business’ goals, the technology and the needs of the user.
To that end what does it mean to effectively design an online system?
As a designer, I feel that it is my role to bridge the customer and business needs with the technology by employing empathetic understanding of user behaviour; questioning the visual indicators throughout a process; and considering the details that not only make a process easy to do, but enjoyable.
Generally speaking, as designers and developers, we know that we have done our job well if the user doesn’t notice it. Our role is to remove the guesswork and friction from an online experience. The user shouldn’t question why a page is taking too long to load; wonder what will happen when they click a certain button or spend extra time trying to find the information they are looking for.
Beyond the visual and navigational ease of use, a certain amount of familiarity can be integrated into most systems. Although the world is rapidly evolving and more experiences increasingly bought online, most of us still have very clear mental models of how certain processes and actions should work.
For instance, when we’re shopping we expect to fill up our basket and then head to the checkout - whether online or in physical stores, this process is consistent (except in Kmart St Lukes, where the checkout is now in the middle and people are almost constantly heading in the wrong direction).
Therefore when designing an online shopping experience we need to not only develop a clear and familiar workflow, but make sure that each step is conducive to our users assumptions and expectations. Payment gateways should feel as noninvasive as possible and recommendations should be as relevant to our purchase as if a retail assistant was standing next to us.
By getting these foundational aspects successful in both function and form, we can then look for ways to delight the user and bring the experience above that of its competition.
This is why it is so essential for designers and developers to work effectively together, integrating our process in order to deliver a cohesive online experience where technology marries the customer goals. Silos are a thing of the past, integrated teams with innate understanding of each other’s’ work is not only important, but necessary.
With Springtimesoft this has meant finding the right way to integrate my processes, using effective tools to manage workflows and communication clearly and looking for ways to ensure intention alignment within a project team before we set out to do something.