10 Jan 2024

Design discovery process

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Written by Deepak Satarkar

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Various industries have experienced product failures, causing both small problems and significant financial losses. These failures have had a lasting impact. Mistakes in designing products can be very costly, ranging from spending thousands to billions of dollars on fixing issues. Some products even never make it to the market. An example of a big problem caused by a small mistake is the Y2K issue. The mistake of using 'mm/dd/yy' instead of 'mm/dd/yyyy' for dates had huge consequences. It led to a global effort to fix the problem, costing billions of dollars, and taking over a year. This situation showed how important it is to be careful, thoughtful, and thorough during designing process.

    Avoidable failures : In product development history, there are many cases where problems could have been avoided if there had been more careful discussions during the design stage. These situations emphasize the importance of having detailed discussions and careful examination before deciding on any design.

Business Challenges:

In today's fast-paced software development world, it is crucial to be agile and get products to the market quickly. However, not having a strong and detailed design process can cause many problems, potentially making the development cycle less efficient and successful.

  1. Delayed development cycles
  2. Customer escalations
  3. Increased Rework and Technical Debt
  4. Lack of Clarity and Vision causing Low team Morale and Confidence
  5. Reduced Scalability and Adaptability

About Design Discovery Process:

While in the midst of developing an application or a feature, it is important to adapt to what customers need. Updating and designing new features is a team effort that aims to smoothly add new functions to what we already have. This helps make sure we stay successful.

Key Aspects of Design Discovery Process:

  • Interviews : Interviewing the users who raised the requirements, are important to make sure we understand the requirements well. They help gather detailed information about what is needed, find out if there are any current solutions, and understand how urgently the new features are needed.

  • Brainstorming and Collaboration : Next in the process is when the team gets together to share ideas. This helps make sure we think about things from different viewpoints, encouraging creativity and innovation when working on the new requirements.

  • Thorough Questioning and Discussion : The team, which includes the Product Owner, Business Analysts, Subject Matter Experts, Software Architects, Support Staff, Developers, and QA Engineers, gets engaged and discusses a lot of questions to understand the details of the new requirements. They work together to clear up any uncertainties, identify issues, and make sure everyone understands what is needed.

  • Documentation of Impact Areas : A crucial step is figuring out and writing down how the suggested changes will affect various parts. This includes a comprehensive exploration of potential effects on various areas such as User Interface (UI), Database, Decision Making processes, Configuration settings, Authentication and Authorization protocols, Performance considerations, Error Handling mechanisms, and more.

  • UI Considerations : The team evaluates the impact on the user interface, ensuring that the new features seamlessly integrate with the existing design. This includes maintaining consistency in layout, navigation, and overall user experience.

  • Database Integration : The implications for the database architecture are carefully analysed. This involves assessing data structure changes, migration requirements, and ensuring data integrity and consistency.

  • Decision Making Processes : Changes in requirements often affect decision-making processes. The team evaluates how the new functionalities will influence decision flows and ensures that decision-making logic remains coherent and effective.

  • Configuration Management : Consideration is given to how the new requirements might affect configuration settings. This involves evaluating whether existing configurations need to be adjusted or if new configuration options should be introduced.

  • Authentication and Authorization : Security considerations are of high importance. The team evaluates the impact on authentication and authorization mechanisms to ensure that data access remains secure and aligned with established protocols.

  • Performance Optimization : Performance implications are thoroughly examined to prevent any adverse effects on system responsiveness. This involves assessing potential bottlenecks and implementing optimizations to maintain or enhance performance.

  • Error Handling and Resilience : Robust error handling mechanisms are established to gracefully manage unexpected scenarios. The team considers potential error scenarios arising from the new requirements and designs resilient solutions.

This careful teamwork of improving and designing new requirements is important for making software better over time. By addressing questions, documenting impacts, and considering various aspects of integration, the team ensures that the evolving system continues to function effectively, efficiently, and economically.

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In the current way we discover and create designs, using tools that help everyone work together has become important. These tools make it easier for people to be creative, participate, and get things done efficiently. Platforms such as Mural (https://www.mural.co/) provide a dynamic digital space where all participants can contribute seamlessly during brainstorming sessions.

Adhering to Key Result Areas (KRAs) in Design Approach :

During the collaborative process of brainstorming and comprehensive discussions, it is crucial that the design approach aligns with specific Key Result Areas (KRAs). These benchmarks serve as guiding principles, ensuring that the resulting design is not only innovative but also aligns with broader organizational objectives.

  • User-Centricity :

    Objective: Ensure that the design prioritizes the needs and preferences of the end-users.

    Benchmark: The design approach should demonstrate a deep understanding of user personas, creating an experience that is easy to understand, easy to use, and friendly for everyone.

  • Alignment with Business Objectives :

      Objective: The design should contribute directly to reach our business goals directly.

      Benchmark: Each design decision should be scrutinized for its direct impact on business outcomes, ensuring a symbiotic relationship between design efforts and organizational objectives.

  • Scalability and Flexibility :

      Objective: Design solutions should be scalable and adaptable to accommodate future needs.

      Benchmark: Assess the scalability of the design to ensure it can grow seamlessly with evolving requirements without compromising performance or user experience.

  • Customizable :

      Objective: Enable users to personalize the software according to their specific requirements and preferences.

      Significance: Customizability enhances the user experience by providing flexibility in how users interact with and experience the software, leading to higher satisfaction and engagement.

  • Configurable :

      Objective: Provide a range of configurable settings and options that users or administrators can modify.

      Significance: Configurability empowers organizations to adapt the software to their unique workflows and business processes, supporting scalability and diverse use cases.

  • Efficiency in Implementation :

      Objective: Design should facilitate a streamlined and efficient development and implementation process.

      Benchmark: Evaluate the feasibility of implementing the design within established timelines and resource constraints, avoiding unnecessary complexity.

  • Consistency Across Platforms :

      Objective: Ensure a consistent design language across various platforms and devices.

      Benchmark: The design approach should maintain visual and functional consistency, providing a cohesive experience irrespective of the user's interaction medium.

  • Technological Feasibility :

      Objective: Design should align with the technical capabilities and constraints of the chosen technology stack.

      Benchmark: Assess the feasibility of implementing the design within the existing technological infrastructure, avoiding solutions that may lead to technical debt.

  • Innovation and Creativity :

      Objective: Encourage innovative and creative solutions to design challenges.

      Benchmark: Evaluate the design approach for its capacity to introduce fresh, inventive elements that set the product apart and contribute to a positive user experience.

  • Cross-Functional Collaboration :

      Objective: Encourage different teams and groups to work together.

      Benchmark: Check if everyone is included in the design process. Make sure that ideas from different people, like developers, marketers, and end-users, are looked at and included.

  • Compliance and Security :

      Objective: Ensure that the design adheres to industry standards and security protocols.

      Benchmark: Evaluate the design for its compliance with regulatory requirements and the implementation of robust security measures to protect user data.

  • Accessibility :

      Designing things so that everyone, including those with different abilities, can use them is not only something required by the law but is also the right thing to do. A robust design approach prioritizes accessibility, ensuring that software is usable by all individuals, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. This commitment extends beyond compliance to create an inclusive and equitable user experience.

  • Auditability :

      In the ever-evolving landscape of software development, auditability stands as a critical aspect of a robust design approach. It involves creating systems and processes that enable transparent tracking, analysis, and validation of actions and decisions within the software. By prioritizing auditability, organizations can enhance accountability, security, and overall trust in their systems.

  • Maximizing Performance :

      Performance optimization is integral to delivering a seamless and responsive user experience. A well-designed software system not only meets functional requirements but also operates efficiently, providing users with fast response times and smooth interactions.


The design discovery process is like a compass that shows the way for successful and meaningful software development. It involves careful exploration, producing ideas, and working together. Design discovery is crucial for creating new and smart solutions that not only meet but go beyond what users expect.