How the Design Driven Development Approach Works



The jarring phrase “Change, or die” holds true in the design world more so than any other. The first of ten principles for good design established by Dieter Rams claims that “good design is innovative.” Meaning, good design stems from constantly adopting the best approach/technology available to you.

A little over two decades ago, Donald Norman coined the term “user experience.” To think that we have nailed down a particular way of development in this field would be criminal. So instead, we talk about why there isn’t an “ideal” web development model and why do you need to adopt a design driven development model through this blog. 

Read the Blog:  The Impact of Design Innovation in Shaping the Future

What is Design Driven Development? 

development driven design

Right off the bat, let’s clear out that design-driven development is not the same as domain-driven design. Instead, design driven development is a method of development that disregards the more traditional ways people have been tackling requirements. 

The emphasis is on design, usability, and user experience with this approach. This results in a product derived from empathy; keeps everyone in mind and not just what code will best optimize it.

In this process, you’ll see designs as a way to help test user flows and bring the design to life as early as possible, even if it’s on just a sheet of paper. 

Traditional Design Process vs. Design Driven Development 

“The difference between a designer and a developer, when it comes to design skills, is the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it” – Scott Hanselman.

When solely left in the hands of developers, meticulously thought-out designs may sometimes fall short of the mark. The traditional design process will have the design and the development teams working separately, resulting in overlapping of effort or just an inefficient way of development. 

When developers design the interface to build the product, they build for developers, not for people. The user flow may feel askew, the UI non-existent. When developers put together many features to meet the requirements, it disregards the empathetic mindset UX engineers set out to follow. Developers must be familiar with the basics of UX

As a result, you’ll be left with expensive code that now needs to be re-written/changed to make room for the requested changes. 

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about the benefits a good UX can provide.

Benefits of a Good UX

Developers spend hours on developing the product. But, if users don’t like the UX at the end of the day, the effort serves no purpose. By designing first, you can set realistic expectations and define the user flow with your stakeholders from day one. 

You can decide upon the functionality of your product very early in the process; And make sure everyone’s on the same page. At Divami, we genuinely believe that a good UX yields unquestionable benefits. According to Forrester, every $1 invested in UX yields a return of $100. Up to 88% of users have claimed that they won’t use a website with a lousy interface twice, and a whopping 70% of online businesses fail because of bad usability. 

Design Driven Development Benefits

Enough about why a design-led development is essential, let’s talk about exactly how it will transform your production process. There are many benefits to the design driven development method. Here are a few to discuss-  

Identify and eliminate problems early on

When the requirements are tackled from a design-driven perspective, you’ll set the user flows, usable prototypes, and wireframes of the product very early in the process. Then, you’ll be able to discuss the problems you need to work on with the stakeholders. 

If you see a development process continuing without much regard for UI & UX, the cost of changes invariably increases. A great way to avoid that is by employing a design-led development process. When stakeholders know what they can expect, it becomes easier for them to ask for changes. 

Joint evaluation between designers and developers

As we pointed out, things can get messy when developers make up the interface of an app while they’re developing it. It results in an undesirable UX that clients/stakeholders can easily reject. With a design led development process, the designers and the developers work closely together to make sure the vision of the UX matches the delivery.

Today, they no longer work as two completely different departments but a joint team working closely together, emphasizing usability and design. The end product then becomes better optimized with an easy-to-use interface. 

Limited errors 

Through early wireframing and prototyping, the clients get a pretty good idea of what they can expect. The clients, but the entire team, including developers, get a clear picture of the requirements.

There are fewer cases of repetition, miscommunication, botchy codes, or unclear targets with constant communication between teams. 

Estimate your expenses more accurately 

There’s nothing worse than starting a project only to realize you’re going to need to exceed your budget. It is frustrating especially if you encounter expensive coding changes because of miscommunication. 

When you’re ready with deliverables like prototypes, wireframes, and user flows very early on, it becomes easier to estimate the cost. Moreover, you can probably expect your approach to help you save some money as well. Of course, it’s always good to account for unforeseen expenses, but with the help of a design-driven development process, there will be a lot less left to chance. 

A more efficient design journey 

As soon as the requirements are put out in front of your team, the first thing a design driven development process calls for is the UX engineers to get to work. As a result, you’ll be able to set clear goals with your clients very early in the process, and miscommunication between the designers and developers team will be almost nil. 

Early testing will help figure out the problems you need to tackle and change, all before developers even get to work! Once this happens, you can expect all your future projects to hit the deck sooner than before. 

In an industry where change happens every time a new, better software workstation rolls around, remaining rigid and not open to change is essentially a death sentence. A design driven development process is undoubtedly better than the more traditional ways requirements were tackled. However, employing the same requires teamwork, great management, and of course, excellent engineers.

If you’re looking to reduce costs, save time and deliver suitable and usable products, it is time to eliminate the “ideal development process” you were using.

Newsflash: it never existed in the first place! 

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