Design before technology
What does it mean?
Technology as a 'silver bullet' rarely delivers anticipated outcomes. Often hailed as the solution to all problems by the Tech Giants, many cases show that technology fails to be adopted in organisations and ends up not adding any value. Poor design, high complexity and a vast array of features are often accountable for this.
Hence, we moved away from technology that is designed and implemented by technologists and put the user experience at the heart of any solution. This is achieved, not by listing an exhaustive list of technical requirements but by understanding what the user needs to help them do their job, what the job entails and how they want to interact with the technology.
Why do we believe it’s important?
The evolution from highly engineered to design-centric solutions has been driven largely by changes in user expectations and software development.
In the early years of enterprise IT, any IT tasks were done by specific technical users. They had multiple days of training to be able to use the software and it was not possible to show it to someone else without detailed explanations.
However, with the consumerization of technology, people are far more discerning about how they use technology at work and at home - badly designed software is less likely to be tolerated or adopted by employees. Organisations should place the user design into focus when introducing new tools. Even the best tool does not deliver the desired return on investment when not being adopted by the organisation's employees.
How do we put it into practice?
The key aspect of design-centered thinking is the ability to empathise with and understand the user. Rather than jumping to conclusions on what the problem is, it is crucial to fully understand the problem in the eyes of the users.
We use frameworks such as User Journeys, Jobs to be Done and Personas to capture requirements to the required level of abstraction. This helps us to understand what the new service needs to do but provides enough latitude to designers and developers to build a system which not only does the job but is intuitive, elegant and fits aesthetically with other services within the organisation. By setting the desired outcome, it means we can step past how it is done today and consider new ideas and patterns that can deliver the outcome in a better way.
A design-centric approach, therefore, prevents us from developing complicated and over-engineered solutions and drives user adoption and loyalty.