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How to close the gap between low-code technology and user interface design?

There’s no question about the benefits of low-code technology. Building applications and implementing business logic has never been easier and faster. But despite the visual and fast workflow of low-code development, user interface design seems to fall behind. There’s a hard-to-bridge gap between low-code and design, and it’s slowing down projects.

I’d like to describe the current path in the low-code designing experience. What difficulties have we seen in past projects? And how did these difficulties help us define a low-code design approach, which we call ‘product design’?

 

What is product design?

Think of product design as a view on, or perhaps an extension of the user experience design process. Wikipedia describes user experience as a person’s emotion or attitude towards a particular product, system or service. In most companies, the broad term applies to the process of designing a product. A product that lives up to the user’s expectations and centers around their experience, while taking the business goals into account.

The ongoing battle between design and low-code technology

As a consultant, I would describe a typical user experience designer as someone with a profound knowledge of visual web elements and interfaces. Someone who understands and translates user and business needs in digital interfaces, who knows what elements will work on every device or interface. Who knows how to ‘guide’ users through applications seamlessly and who creates visually pleasing designs. Yes, that’s a lot of responsibility for your team member to take on.

This is why being a user experience designer is a core profession. The designer’s main interest is creating the best experience for the user, regardless of the technical implications his or her design decisions may have.

Return to the gap, caused by the ongoing battle between the perfect experience, and the fast approach of low-code technology. Assuming all bets are off when creating an interface, we have to consider that it might be time-consuming for a project team to build it. Most designers are not aware of the specific benefits of a low-code platform, like reusable building blocks and out-of-the-box features. Therefore, they will not know what impact their design choices might have on the project. Comments from the development team might feel like critique on the design, but it’s just a discussion on the best way to get the most value for the customer in less time. This might cause a clash between the technical and the design team.

 

Search for the best of both worlds

Product design is the approach to solve this problem. User experience is one of the most important aspects of designing a digital application. But it’s also important to deliver as much value as possible in a short period of time.

When designing an app or a product, it’s important to embrace the low-code platform in use rather than disregard it. Challenge yourself to see how far you can reach using the standard components. Search for the best of both worlds and be an integral part of the project team. Present that in your approach, making yourself an integral part of the project team. That is product design.

How can this be achieved? Besides learning technical and theoretical know-how, search for proven best practices; how, where and when can you combine these with elements of low-code technology? Spin these approaches & practices and incorporate them into your project approach.

 

The product designer is co-responsible

Product designers are now enabled to act as the ‘missing link’ between business design and project execution by performing user research, creating personas, and describing usage scenarios even before development starts. During this ‘design’ phase, the product designer is co-responsible for transferring knowledge and input to the development team. Now the product designer enters the development, or ‘do’ phase; His role is assisting the team in creating wireframes, prototypes and gathering feedback on a regular basis.

A picture says more than a thousand words, so naturally, we made an effort to present this approach visually. After all, it would be rather weird for us designers not to actually design something for you as a reader.

Product design is about keeping the balance between design and technical implementation, and about viewing the low-code platform as an asset to keep design activities lightweight to fit in the incremental scrum approach.

Jordy Delahaije is consultant at Bizzomate

 

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