When people hear the word design, there is a tendency to think more about the way something looks. Whilst this is a key ingredient in the list of elements that makes a product enjoyable to use, the fundamentals of design stretch much deeper in that user experience. This surface view can often manifest not only in the outside world but also within product teams.
Changing this perception can be challenging, however the process we use within the Learning Hub service team creates a very powerful shift in perception and team dynamics. Designs are discussed and reviewed with key representatives from the disciplines responsible for product development, such as business analysis, design, development, content and support, with the product owner and delivery manager at the heart ensuring that product direction is cohesive and timescales are achievable amidst the flow of creative thinking. Decision making is informed by design examples, prototypes, user research, user activity data and examples of best practice. The end goal is the creation of a specification that can be picked up and coded by any of the Learning Hub developers.
Our approach allows for transparency of design thinking amongst the team. Everyone has a voice; design decisions are aligned with business needs, user needs, architecture, content and development. Design as a discipline leads the conversation and places everyone in a ‘let’s aim for a best product experience for the user’ mindset. In this context designers become facilitators, we start and conclude the conversations ensuring that everyone has a voice and encourage everyone to take ownership of the product. This also means that everyone is responsible for forming the specification that eventually arrives in the capable hands of our talented team of developers.
This principle is subsequently cascaded down to production. Designers work closely with developers, adapting the specification as occasional development challenges arise and remaining agile enough throughout the process that changes of direction can take place.
These design foundations ensure that every team member feels ownership for the delivery of what is already considered a powerful and useful product.