Design: Feature Architecture

A step by step for designers to define a feature's architecture and user journeys. Access Github Repo.
agile; good-practices; interaction;
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The design process for new features within a product involves defining its architecture, how it should function, and what is the user journey through the product. This step comes before proposing a graphic user interface. It is essential and should not be overlooked.

1. Outlining the journey

While describing your user’s journey, answer the following questions. If any of these aspects are not clear, enlist the help of a developer who has a deep understanding of the product (it can be the project manager or the tech lead) to build the journey together with you. You can use pen and paper, or design the journey in a flowchart app like Whimsical (web) or Xmind (desktop).
  • What does the user need to achieve with this journey?
  • What is the user’s context while performing this task?
    • Represent it as the first step.
  • What is the desired outcome?
    • Represent it as the last step.
  • What are the actions that need to be taken?
    • List them and place them in order along the journey. Describe the possible outcomes of each action.
  • Which parts of this flow can go wrong?
    • Represent the possible outcomes as detours from the desired journey. Give your users easy ways to return to the path.
  • What other parts of the product does this feature/update/improvement impact?
    • Map them, linking them to actions and outcomes in the main journey.
  • What happens when the user ends the journey?
    • Outline which feedbacks your interface will need. If you’ve built the journey without any input from the engineering team, validate it with the tech lead or the project manager.

2. Planning the next steps

After running this process, you should have a visual map of the feature, which is the main document that will help you moving forward. Sync with the project manager and the product owner, and answer the following questions, to determine the feature’s scope and effort.
  • Will this feature require the creation of new pages?
  • Will this feature require us to build new UI components?
  • Will this feature require a significant change in existing pages?
    • If so, how many?
  • Can this feature be broken down into partial deliveries?
    • If so, map them out as individual flows, and plan a delivery strategy that takes into account development effort and value to the user.
  • What is the estimated effort involved (for both design and engineering) for each delivery?
Based on these considerations, the product owner can make informed decisions on whether to keep developing the feature and how to prioritize it on the product roadmap.

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