(Photo by Tony Abraham)
If software is eating the world, designers need to begin forfeiting a share of their responsibilities. Now is not the time for god complexes. Instead, firms and agencies should begin to adopt a democratic design process.
“Design is too important to be left to just designers,” said Arcweb UX/UI designer Len Damico at this year’s Tech2gether, held during the first Delaware Innovation Week. “We need more people in the tent. We need more folks to get involved.”
Damico didn’t make the statement just to twist designers’ knickers. It’s not that they can’t handle the pressures of what’s increasingly becoming life or death for businesses. Instead, he said, it’s quite the opposite.
"Every stakeholder you have needs to be a part of the process."
“As we focus more on UX design, we should start thinking less about the idea of ‘pixel pushing’ and start thinking more about stewardship,” said Damico. “It’s this concept that you’re not the only one carrying the load.”
Damico said there are three principles that constitute a democratic design process: collaboration, cross-discipline and participation.
“Everyone has to get involved,” he said. “Every stakeholder you have needs to be a part of the process. I need engineers, product people, QA people — every discipline involved in making software.”
Even if you can’t draw. Actually, Damico said, lack of design experience is critical to the process.
“You just have so many people in a room riffing and iterating,” he said. “Not all ideas will be great, but they’ll be there for you to react to.”
Plus, it helps build empathy within teams. Suddenly, engineers begin the think like designers, designers begin to understand the troubles of product people — so on and so forth.
It’s Philadelphia-based software company Arcweb’s “Design Studio Methodology,” said Damico. The team-oriented design process can be broken down into four steps:
- Define the problem
- Create a solution
- Pitch the solution
- Critique the solution
“It’s how we get people involved and invited into helping us make great digital software,” said Damico.
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