“Tomorrow” is not a schedule

Ask a Prod Manager or Engineer when a “design is due” and the response is usually “yesterday” or “tomorrow”, with little hint of sarcasm. The fact is, that is utterly useless info and counterproductive to deep multi-disciplinary collaboration towards solving problems in a meaningful way that actually matters. Indeed, such a glib approach to time is a grim sign of professional disrespect and ignorance of what it is that designers need and value most: TIME!

It takes time to sufficiently gather the core business & technical requirements, and extrapolate priorities for further investigation and define prelim research and design studies.

It takes time to frame the problem, generate initial concepts, explore directions and iterate accordingly, with feedback.

It takes time to gather that feedback and review and respond accordingly. With multiple rounds if needed, per problem scope.

It takes time to reflect upon designs created, in whatever level of fidelity, to step away and revisit with a fresh eye/mind the next day…This is especially true for visual hi-fi solutions whose nuances and subtleties across screens/devices can have serious consequences downstream with graphics production.

Because it takes time, Design as a process phase and professional activity has to be properly accounted for in a product development schedule, plain and simple. A schedule has a sense of expected duration, with key moments of review/delivery/feedback itemized, an overall movement towards completion. It is in effect a narrative of the process, with multiple moving pieces/players coordinating against that narrative. Without a scheduled-in place for design, it will be dismissed as mere cosmetic lipstickery, with styles/graphics slapped on as an afterthought, without addressing flow/interaction/architecture/service issues. And if not enough time is properly allotted, that is exactly what will happen, like it or not. Design in effect becomes a meager farce, not the enabler of positive change. And believe me, no designer worth her salt wants to do that, but will be forced to if necessary, sadly. “Tomorrow” is not a schedule, but proactively coordinating a planned way to engage with designers can help PMs and Devs achieve a well-developed product that serves tomorrow’s needs.

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