Developing digital solutions with tactical design phase

The digital solutions in today’s hyperconnected world have been ubiquitous and are increasing their footprint in transforming the businesses. Their impact and influence have heightened the understanding and requirements of businesses, that address customers’ prerequisites, bring value, and ultimately, help achieve their goals. In order to develop them, complex digital programs play an imperative role and designing them is an iterative process to enhance the overall efficacy delivering digital solutions.

Designing any complex digital program involves the combination of strategic and tactical design. While strategic design is about applying the future-oriented design principles to systemic challenges, tactical design focuses on identifying known and evasive components to make the final breakthroughs. Tactical Design Phase follows a Lean UX mindset, culture, and process that embrace Lean-Agile methods. Lean UX design extends the traditional UX role beyond executing design elements and anticipating how users might interact with a system, encouraging a comprehensive view of a feature, its functionality, implementation, and advantages. By receiving immediate feedback to understand if the system will meet the real business objectives, Lean UX provides a closed loop system for defining and measuring value.

The main purpose is to remain ahead of the agile development sprints and make the designs development ready through agile development methodologies. To achieve this, Tactical Design Phase follows the iterative and incremental cycles of Learn – Design – Test stages.

Learn Phase:
In this phase, the designers understand the current state of complex digital programs and outline the objectives to achieve and move forward. The focus of the learning phase is to gain immense knowledge for the domain, user, business, problem identified, the solution defined and planned to be created and delivered. This is achieved by following activities:

Roadmap: The designers understand the program roadmap and increments plan, to further use the inputs to visually describe a high-level timeline for the progressive process of design, development, and delivery.

Product Backlog: Designers acquire a good understanding of the product backlog with a goal to identify the minimum set of features and user stories that need to be ready for the first program increment.

Design Intent: Design intent is to understand the user needs that the interface will help them to achieve in a simple, minimalist, and efficient way.

Deliverables: Once the designers understand the entire program, including business and design intent, they are set to come up with a design sprint plan for the first program increment to commence with.

Design phase:
During this phase, designers aim to create an interface which users find enjoyable and easy to use. As per the demands of the service being delivered, the user interface can be designed in three formats such as Graphical user interface, Voice-controlled user interface (VUIs), and Gesture-based interface.

It’s possible that today’s digital systems can include more than just the graphic user interfaces. These are derived through following activities:

Sprint Planning: In the beginning of every sprint, design lead gets together with the product owner and project manager to define the design goal, features/user story, and design intent. This is the stage where designers focus on design work. Depending on the type of user story, different artifacts will be created to reach final designs.

Deliverables: The design phase deliverables help the entire team to visualize the final product before it has been actually developed.

Development team can play with the prototype and get a better sense of what needs to be developed.

Test Phase:
The test phase is about testing the final designs for any usability issues that exist in the interface or task flow. It refers to evaluating the interface design with representative users. The goal is to identify any usability issues and refine the designs before sending it to the development team through following activities:

Design Reviews: Design reviews are an excellent forum for reaching a collective agreement. It is an activity where detailed interface designs are evaluated against the requirements and design intent to identify any issues. These discussions allow designers to receive an open and honest bi-directional feedback from the product team about what their intentions, objectives, and whether the current design work achieves those goals, etc.

Design Testing: Once the designs are finalized internally, they are handed over to the design researcher for a quick usability test with the end users to identify any usability issues before sending the final designs for development. It reduces the risk of developing a wrong design, saving a lot of reworks, and cost in the future.

Iteration and Refinements: Based on the test findings, final changes are made to the interface designs. Thus, ensuring that the right designs are being pushed for development.

Deliverables: The only deliverables for this stage of the work are the final interface design specifications and insights gathered, which can be documented separately for future reference.

The digital world is evolving at an exponential rate. The innovations in design to serve customer problems while scaling business has become the need of the hour. Therefore, understanding and developing complex digital programs become crucial as they offer numerous advantages, including enhanced productivity, faster problem detection and resolution, improved profitability, and ultimately, a triumph for businesses and the customers.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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