Kedron Rhodes Thoughts on Design, Innovation & Leadership

Stop Integrating Design Into Development

There is a myth that I've watched circulate in the I.T. and software development circles for years now. It goes like this: If we hire designers, and put them on our dev teams, we will deliver better software.

It's a myth. Stop!

Imagine with me that you are about to build a new home, and your brother-in-law is a plumber. You approach your bother-in-law to build your house, after all, he's a plumber, and plumbing is essential to your chi.

Three months pass, and you check in with him at the location of your new home and discover a plumber's dream and your nightmare! He's biased all of his decisions towards plumbing. The pipes are on the outside of the walls to showcase his ability to sweat copper. There are 12 sinks, 8 toilets and 5 showers, and a state-of-the-art water heater on each floor.

Ridiculous right? Absolutely. Who would be foolish enough to have a plumber build a home?! A successful home is first designed by an architect, and then built by a team of skilled craftsmen, each of which support and live with the constraints of the architects plans.

Now, before you get your briefs in a bunch, I'm not suggesting that designers are the architects. Okay, I am, but wait. I'm not saying visual designers are the architects. The value of design is realized through the design process – which an optimistic, creative and reasonable person can do, regardless of title.

Okay, back to the myth. Bringing designers into the development process was thought to be a way to solve a set of problems many software folks were having revolving around agile and user satisfaction. Many of these software shops are still experiencing the same problems, even with talented designers on staff.

I believe this problem is solved by a paradigm shift in the way we view design and development. We need to move our thinking from "development-driven software" to "design-driven software". (If you're hung up on the idea of design being a visual exercise, it's time to read this: Design 101)

Those that have made that paradigm shift (e.g. Atomic Object along with many others) are helping clients increase their bottom line as well as customer satisfaction. (A Design Counsel survey reveals that design lead companies out perform their competitors by 25%.)

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