Great engineering doesn't mean compromising on excellent design. In many technological developments, however, the functions of design and engineering are far removed from each other. The design component fulfills the esthetic requirements, but the most critical requirement for a successful app is its functionality and how well it contributes to delivering what the user needs. Let’s look at what the two concepts are and how they can be meshed for the ideal customer experience.
The Design Component
Design comprises the look and “feel” of the user interface, such as the functionality and intuitiveness. It is typically based on information gathered from sources such as market research, customer questionnaires and focus groups, common practices, current Internet conventions, and legal requirements. Often, designers come up with a remarkably good front end of an application, but this alone doesn’t determine its success.
Where Engineering Fits In
Making apps work efficiently in the way they should falls under the engineering department’s jurisdiction. In traditional development roles, software engineers develop systems or specifications that carry out the required tasks, are safe and secure, and, as much as possible, cost effective. They create a system that performs the requests sent to it and delivers the reports needed in the way the customer wants them.
Importance of the User Experience
Both design and engineering are vital aspects of the user experience and contribute to the usability of an app. Usability considers the performance requirements of the app, and how simple it is to execute them. It’s based on questions such as:
- How does the user navigate around the app?
- How many taps or clicks does the user need to make to buy the product or schedule a consultation?
- Is the app intuitive in leading the user to where s/he wants to go?
The design factor focuses on enabling users to open an app and easily find their way around without hunting for the right navigation item. If the selection they want isn’t readily visible on the home page, the user will expect a drop-down menu or search option to help them find it. This is a simplistic example, but it illustrates the importance of collaboration between the design and engineering teams to deliver software that performs in both genres and aligns with the business goals of the company.
Segregating the Tasks
Performing the two functions of design and engineering separately is called “segregation of tasks.” While it has benefits such as being able to take advantage of specialized skills in both fields, it can also lead to inefficiency, project overruns, and an inferior final product. Doing things this way is called the Waterflow Model, because projects typically start in one area and flow to the other. Software development, however, needs to be bidirectional to be agile and successful.
In many cases, engineers find themselves being forced to take a design and try to make it “fit” the functionality of an app to get it to work. This is typical of the “square peg in a round hole” proverb, and doing so reduces the chances of success exponentially.
Ensuring Equal Focus
At AndPlus, we specialize in sound user experiences that include equal focus on both aspects of software development. We believe customers shouldn’t be required to choose between a top-quality design and great functionality. All application development projects receive equal quantities of attention and expertise, and access to resources is available for both engineers and designers.
The in-house design team works alongside the engineering team every step of the way, to develop apps that look great and operate flawlessly. Here are some of the applications we’ve developed for clients that demonstrate the correlation between engineering and design.