Software design is where all great applications start. You have ideas. You have goals. But before you can begin to build your application, you need to weave your ideas and goals together into a clear plan for how your app will work.
Many people get excited about creating software and want to start coding as soon as possible. This is completely normal but could be a mistake. By taking the time to do software design you will be able to think through your application end-to-end. When you do this, you can make sure all the pieces work well together and you can avoid missing gaps in functionality.
There really are just two main goals when it comes to software design:
- Be able to clearly picture your future application with all its features, functions, and workflow end-to-end
- Be able to confirm that if you built the software as designed, it will create value for your organization, meeting all the requirements and needs for you and your users
The Creative Process of Software Design
The creative process for software tends to be an iterative process. That means there is a cycle of gathering ideas and end-goals, processing the information, proposing a solution, receiving feedback and then refining the design. This cycle may happen once or several times until you arrive at the final design that works for you.
Although software design is a creative process, and that process can vary from person to person and company to company, there are some common steps along the way.
The common steps for a software design process typically include:
- Understanding your business and the context of the software
- Understanding what is driving the need for software
- Understanding the goals and desired end result that the software will bring
- Understanding the users, how they will be using the software, their needs, and their limitations
- Understanding the technology experience and preferences of your company
- Collaborating on the future solution using a whiteboard and real-time discussions and diagramming
- Proposing a solution using visual tools such as wireframes, storyboards, mockups, and diagrams.
- Getting feedback on the solution
- Collaborating on modifying the proposed solution with whiteboarding and real-time discussions
- Finalizing the design
- Getting approval
- Creating a detailed document of the final design that can be used to develop
You can see that although there are clear steps in designing great software, it is a process that requires collaboration and feedback.
How To Be Successful in Software Design
As a business owner, subject matter expert, or product owner, you are critical to the software design process. The ideas come from you. The success criteria come from you. The software design ultimately has to satisfy what you see are the needs of your organization and your users.
To help your team help you, consider your role as someone who:
- Provides as much information as you can to your design team
- Listens openly to their recommendations
- Confirms that the design is meeting the needs of your organization and your users
- Makes final decisions for the end product
Your design team is there to facilitate the process, to give you ideas you wouldn’t have had before, and to advise you on what is good practice and bad practice in software. Like in all advisor relationships, you are welcome to take their recommendations or not as you work through the creative process of designing the software that is right for you.
The Checklist For Sharing Your Software Vision
Before you start developing your software app, clarify and write down your thoughts and ideas so they can be consistently and easily shared and understood. To help you get started on the right foot, we have created a checklist.
You can grab a copy of that checklist below and share it with your team!