More usable features? You’d better design

Recently, I was brought in to assist a software-development team toward the end of its development cycle. In the preliminary discussions with the client, I talked about the benefits of doing design at the early stage.

“Oh, never again!” declared the customer.

“Oh no,” I thought. “This customer’s experience with design went sour.” So I asked a few clarifying questions, and—fortunately—it turned out I had misunderstood. The client had already learned that developing without first designing was less than ideal.

“Never again will I start software development without designing up front.”


The client learned this lesson the hard way, especially since the company wants to differentiate itself by providing customers with a more complete set of features that are also more usable than the competition’s. An experienced user-experience designer will tell you that to get more features and better usability requires a concentrated design effort.