The Benefits of Prioritizing Design Before Development of Your Digital Product

In the hustle of starting a company, it’s natural to jump right into code instead of going through the design process: Resources are limited, and you want to get your product built so you can start generating revenue and securing users. It can be a natural inclination to assume you’ll revisit design after you get something out the door.

But this can be a dangerous road. Assuming you’ll come back to something as crucial as user experience design can lead to significant (and expensive) mistakes that will be even more difficult to correct once your product is out in the world. Product designers can provide insights, expertise, and perspective that impact all parts of the product, and that can have significant benefits. Working with design prior to development will allow you to save money and time, truly know your users, achieve product-market fit, and have a visually amazing product along the way.

You’ll Save Money And Time

It may sound counterintuitive since you’ll initially pay more money for a designer and a coder. But in the long run, you will end up saving big dollars by not having to go back and recreate everything you built. It’s important to think of design as an investment rather than a cost. And like all good investments, design will pay huge dividends as you grow your product.

In addition to eliminating rework, your customer support team won’t need to field emails from users who don’t understand how to use your product. When built with users in mind, they’ll find it easier to understand how your product solves their problem, making sales processes frictionless. Adding new features or fields within your product will also be easier when you design first, because a designer will have already considered how your product will grow and evolve over time, instead of just “spot” designing.

like all good investments, design will pay huge dividends as you grow your product.

You Can Truly Know Your Users

UX Designers know how users work, how they think, and what they expect out of a user experience. Their job is to empathize with the user and put themselves in their shoes in order to fully understand their pains. They gauge what users want, how they complete tasks, and what their ideal product is. They have time to dedicate to this depth of research to gain a profound understanding of what users want.

Coding takes extensive time and effort, leaving little to no time for detailed discussions with users; that just isn’t in their job description. Designers work directly with product managers and user researchers to ensure that the product aligns with the user’s mental model and solves their problems.

Designers have studied the users’ mental models and will design accordingly; even if that results in an entirely different structure than the “plumbing” underneath the product. For example, a retail site like Nordstrom has dozens of SKUs and products, but you’ll find clothing items organized by men and women, and then by category of clothing, and so on. It takes a product team of designers, product managers, and researchers to assess exactly how users want and expect to see clothing organized, so they’re able to navigate the site seamlessly and without confusion.

Your Product Will Fit In The Market

Product designers are up-to-date with user trends. They know what the design threshold is and what consumers expect in a user experience. As a startup, your product hasn’t had any experience in the market yet. You may think you know what’s out there and who your competitors are, but it is a product designer’s job to know the entire design and product landscape.

Not only do they look at products within your industry and what competitors are doing, but product designers know about products in different industries that may have similar workflows. They know what trends and interactions to pull from these industries in order to help map that mental model of what the user is trying to achieve.

Your Product Will Look Amazing

Developers are concerned with building the product and making it work, not making it look pretty. Designers take into account all the visually pleasing details that charm your users, and know how to make best use of your brand. This goes beyond just colors and logos, and includes in-app messaging that fits with your product messaging and positioning.

While it is important to have a valuable and usable product, when you’re first starting out brand recognition is incredibly important. People have high expectations for products these days, and any inconsistencies throughout your product will confuse users, and they don’t need to waste time trying to make sense of it. They will switch to an alternative and your business will suffer. Designers work to achieve consistency throughout.

Developers will build what you tell them to build, because code is their expertise. Product teams and product designers push back against clients, rearrange backlogs, and make sure what you are building will actually resonate with users.

Developers protect your time and resources, and designers protect the experience. Both are integral parts of creating your a product, and should both be prioritized early. If you design for your users upfront, you will be set up for success down the road.

UX designers take the time to understand users, the design landscape, and your brand and business. They fight for user experience and will help you make key decisions to influence current and future business growth. By working with product designers before developers, you can be sure that you’re making the best use of time and money, you’re serving your users, you fit in your market, and you have an intuitive and beautiful digital product.