The victims of velocity

Moving faster and faster and faster. That’s just the norm nowadays with software development cycles, most noticeably at startups but prevalent pretty much anywhere, as artificially self-induced pressures dominate — but that’s a whole other topic to explore 🙄🤔This self- imposed urgency to deliver more at a higher rate of velocity — being diligently measured, of course — is immensely consequential, adversely affecting many crucial elements, which I call the “victims of velocity”, many of which ring true for designers striving to deliver “good design” to their customers amid rushed cycles. 😣#SorryCustomers

Quality of product

Craftsmanship — Pixel perfection & precision, consistency of foundational elements: color, grids, fonts, icons, terminology, etc. Craft matters in reinforcing the notion that this multi-million dollar product is worthy of the price paid, not something that looks shoddy or thrown together, thus eroding trust and goodwill.

Forethought — Dependencies & relationships across screens + flows, this often leads to broken navigation, dead-ends, weird loops or side-alley paths are forgotten. It takes time to think through all the paths & journeys & taskflows…and yes, also the edge-cases!

Errors/warnings — What’s the language conveyed, with supportive recovery actions to be taken if user does X instead of Y, or the system doesn’t accept input Z? Often it’s hastily done by QA or Front-End Eng at the last minute, which never ends well for our hapless, frustrated customers!😞

Onboarding & transitions — Yay the feature shipped! Umm, how does someone actually know about it and learn how to use it? This is an especially critical issue if it’s replacing a previous feature or method the user was already habitually doing. How do we transition them to the “new way” graciously? This is often a last-second item, again at the customer’s loss. 😒

Validating actual value / utility — So, did anyone actually verify if this feature is one that customers will truly value in their daily workflow? Are we building to ship just to make the PM happy, or building to empower customers to become a better version of themselves, that they personally appreciate? 🤔🙄

So those are aspects of the product itself being impacted adversely. It’s also worth noting other victims of velocity, which are inherent to the designers’ ongoing cycles of creativity and innovation:

Rituals of design

Daydreaming — Sometimes you need that empty whitespace of time & activity to let the brain do its thing, marinating and meditating on concepts, just wandering the forest of reverberating notions and see what resonates and emerges. Not something that can be rushed or done “on demand”. 

Serendipity — The wonderful happy accidents of colliding ideas, synchronous conversations with peers struggling with the same problem, experimental models & sketches. Again, not something forced or rushed.

Empathy — This takes time and is cultivated over time through direct and indirect contacts with customers, at multiple evolving levels of understanding. Threads of observations and insights emerge through anecdotes, conversations, and so forth…

Designers know deep down that imagination, empathy, and serendipity play vital, if subtle, roles in discovering & enabling a compelling aesthetic experience, even potentially a breakthrough product that reshapes an industry. But how can we preserve those qualities amid increasing demands for moving faster at higher cycles/rates of velocity, shipping features and code that meet internal process targets… but not actual human needs or desires? How do we ensure humanistic aspects essential to what is good & beautiful don’t become “victims of velocity” per artificially induced pressures? 🤔😬 It’s an ongoing conversation, and battle we must all fight. 💪🏽🔥

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