The software product design stage: what is it and why is it so important?

Post by 
Ilya Blokh
Published 
August 27, 2020
W

hat is a software product design?

The correct, high-quality, and precise formulation of any problem is an indispensable condition for the successful solution of this problem. When developing a digital product, it is during the design of the product architecture that we achieve such a formulation by examining the client's business processes, requirements and expectations from the result.

The main purpose of the design is to create a detailed plan for the subsequent work. In doing so, we find out:

  • customer expectations of the product;
  • the results that users of the product should get;
  • what are the technical requirements for the implementation;
  • what processes, roles, interactions with external systems should be;
  • what team is needed to implement the project?

Typically, at the product design stage are involved:

  • project manager;
  • tech lead;
  • UX / UI designer;
  • business analyst;
  • customer.

Why is product design necessary?

In our company, the design phase is an integral part of any project. We value our customers and want to give them a product that really solves the problem, is reliable, understandable, can be maintained and developed. To do this, we dive into the business of our clients, learn all the details and offer a suitable solution.

Usually, clients do not have the necessary expertise in order to independently draw up a comprehensive project description and terms of reference.

In this way, design ensures that we will:

  • correctly approach the construction of UX / UI and the development of identity;
  • cut off unnecessary functionality and focus on priority, which both increases the benefits of the product and optimizes the costs of its creation and support;
  • be able to more accurately calculate the estimated cost and development time;
  • develop a technical assignment, think over the architecture and select suitable technologies, taking into account plans for the further development of the product.

What do we do during product design?

Our team works together with the Client and upon completion of the design, they form several documents, each of which describes a specific aspect of the project.

1. Mind Map

We visualize the requirements for a product, determine what parts it consists of, how they interact. To do this, we conduct several interviews with the client for a more complete immersion in his business processes and understanding the requirements for the product being developed.

2. Analysis of competitors' products

We study technical solutions of the main competitors, read comments and reviews. As a result, we understand their main disadvantages and advantages, on the basis of which we give recommendations to the client on the UI and functionality.

3. Story Mapping

It is imperative to understand user scenarios, roles, and their interactions. In our experience, a convenient tool for this is the construction of Story Mapping, in which it is convenient to display both the description of scenarios and to prioritize them. Also, thanks to such a decomposition, our team and the client come to the same understanding of the product - this allows us to avoid a significant revision of the functionality of the product after the start of development, which is always a waste of both time and money for the client.

4. Interactive prototype

We design wireframes for the main product screens and then combine them into an interactive clickable prototype. The complexity of the prototype can vary depending on the project - it can contain a different number of screens, have more or less elaborate animations and visual design. The main goal of the prototype is to visualize user scenarios and understand the scope of work on the visual part of the product.

5. Terms of reference for development

As a rule, this is a rather lengthy document that aggregates both functional and non-functional requirements for a product. The description of tasks in the terms of reference already includes a description of the solution architecture, integrations with external systems (for example, payment systems, map services, etc.), requirements for the technologies used, protocols for the interaction of various parts of the product, and so on. The terms of reference is the main document that developers rely on when creating a product.

6. Development plan and evaluation

Thanks to careful design of the product architecture, we manage to remove most of the risks associated with project evaluation, since we come to a well-defined, and most importantly - agreed with the client, understanding of the software requirements. We draw up a schedule for working on a product, which, as a rule, is divided into different types of sprints: design sprints, dev sprints, test sprints. We provide the client with a description of the team that will be involved in the project and a cost estimate.

Conclusion

Architectural design is an integral part of the development of any digital product, which gives the client the opportunity to minimize the risks of difficulties arising at the stage of product development or growth, plan the budget and work time in advance, and get a reliably working product that can be improved and scaled in the future.

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What is a software product design? The correct, high-quality, and precise formulation of any problem is an indispensable condition for the successful solution of this problem. When developing a digital product, it is during the design of the product architecture that we achieve such a formulation by examining the client's business processes, requirements, and expectations from the result.