Design often takes a backseat to engineering because people just want to get things to work and then ship it!
It’s not until after a product is in the market that the lack of design thinking and its importance becomes obvious. Design can give a product a competitive edge and increase adoption, and incorporating design thinking into a product development process consistently can make a team and company run smoothly.
I was one of the fortunate software engineers who was introduced to design early in my career and saw the numerous benefits to incorporating it early on into a product’s lifecycle. I also learned how to work with designers, and have a fully integrated product team, rather than engineering vs. design vs. product.
Over the past few years, I’ve been keen to showcase a number of these benefits and keep a watchful eye on new trends as they have emerged. I’ve showcased them on my weekly web show Build (formerly known as FemgineerTV).
You’ve heard of “tech debt,” the technical debt that gets accrued when a team races to ship a product and has to take shortcuts in engineering to make it happen.
The same holds true for a product. Over time, a product accumulates “product debt” as a result of cutting corners on the design, often prompted by the engineering team pushing back on what is and isn’t feasible given the timeframe, and how much rework or additional work it is going to cost in engineering. As this happens again and again, a product starts to exhibit clunky workflows, affordances that are inconsistent, onboarding that may be nonexistent, or features that get buried.
As a product continues to grow, it impacts how users perceive the product—and interact with it.
Paying down product debt needs to become a priority to ensure a friendly user experience and product adoption. In this video, we talk about how to prioritize paying it down in every release.
It’s tempting to want to jump into redesigning a product, especially if it’s laden with product debt, or if you are trying to re-position your product or brand in the market.
However, a redesign is something that needs to be planned out; otherwise, it can become a runaway project.
In this video, we explore the following things you need to consider before doing a redesign:
These have gained in popularity over the past couple years thanks to Jake Knapp’s book Sprint. They’re a great way to make sure we’re designing for the right problem, test out a feature, make sure it’s well scoped, and then put it out there for customers.
There may come a time where you are tempted to strike out on your own, give up the comforts of a company, and decide to become a freelance designer. Of course, the transition brings up a lot of fears like being good enough, consistently attracting clients, and paying those pesky bills.
In this video, I interview Jessica Hische, who shares the following:
When you design and share your designs with others, like coworkers and clients, you open yourself up—and that can be scary. You fear criticism, rejection, and failure.
To get over it, you have to get comfortable practicing creative confidence. In this video, Maria Molfino and I discuss the following:
There’s a growing trend of traditional CEOs being replaced by a new breed called design executive officers (DEO), who embrace design thinking and imbue their company culture with it.
Whether you’re a leader or aspire to be one, this episode will help you learn how DEOs:
Designers know the value of empathy as it relates to building products. But there are still a lot of misconceptions and misuses. In this video, Indi Young and I explore the various types of empathy, and how to practice it.
We dig into the following:
Why do some products stand out and others just get the job done? Is it about who designs them, or is it something else?
In this video, we explore these questions and discuss the following:
What are some topics that you’d like to see me cover in future Build episodes? Let me know in the comments below!