Some software development processes omit the user from the design phase and leave product managers, marketing, sales, or ‘subject-matter-experts’ to drive the design, but what they are actually doing is guessing what users want. Co-designing with users, on the other hand, puts the users at the forefront of the process, ensuring that the final product is both usable and useful.
The benefits of co-design for a customer are clear: an end product that meets the user’s needs, is easy to use, and solves a real problem. From an engineer’s perspective, co-designing reduces the amount of throw away code by incorporating early feedback via simple prototypes and drawings of the software. And co-designing puts the product team in a position to learn from customers on a daily basis, hear their problems, and try to solve them.
At SolarWinds, talking with our users and putting them at the center of our product design process is what gets the user experience (UX) team up in the morning and fuels our engine. From asking our users for real life use cases that drive the design of a new feature, to conceptual walkthroughs with early sketches, and usability/usefulness testing with detailed prototypes, users participate at every stage of the design process and their feedback is vital to ensuring that our products help IT Pros get their jobs done.
Naturally, SolarWinds was excited to host fellow co-design advocate, Jeff Gothelf. Jeff is a designer himself and author of “Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience.” Jeff spoke last week at SolarWinds headquarters in Austin, TX and shared his experience building successful in-house innovation teams. Some highlights from the presentation include:
- Remember, yesterday’s assumptions don’t work in today’s realities – assembly lines may work for tangible products, but they don’t work in software.
- The end goal in an agile process isn’t well defined, a detailed spec no longer works, and innovation is best achieved through experimentation and learning.
- Innovative teams are tasked to achieve business outcomes, not a pre-defined specific solution.
These principles of innovation are closely followed by SolarWinds product teams. We constantly learn from our customers and adjust our product plans accordingly – even once product development is underway.
A special thanks goes out to Agile Austin for making this fantastic event happen.
The UX @ SolarWinds team is always looking for new IT Pros to collaborate with on UX activities including co-designing, usability testing, and focus groups. If you would like to be part of this process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SolarWinds is always looking for UX talent. If you are interested in becoming part of the SolarWinds UX team, and love working with IT Pros, please email email@example.com.