Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pepto Bismol is Expensive but Feels So Good

The rising cost of design as a project progresses goes hand-in-hand with the "cone of uncertainty" in project management. A designer rarely gets the opportunity to revisit design the farther along a product goes. We are relegated to doing the best we can and then we watch as the design floats down the river, down the conveyer belt, dropped into a container, a lid sealed on, and a label. In a poor process, these late design opportunities present themselves more often, maybe due to ignorance at the upper levels, or cynicism about the design process. But in today's generally "Agile" environment, it happens rarely, though I wouldn't be blogging about it if I didn't recently get that opportunity. And wow, it is a really great opportunity, though not without risks and difficulties.

Our engineering department recently decided to change their code-base. In other words, a very quick and complete rewrite of a project that I had done research, design, and testing on. I was happy with the end-product in general, but one little piece was bothering me and we didn't have enough time to do any more design. It would have worked fine, but if you're a designer, you know, it needs to sit well in the gut. This wasn't sitting well. And then, POW, a new chance. And what a chance it has been. It's expensive, yes. Not as expensive as after the release, but it is costing them. At least the cost was factored into the change decision and the top brass are on-board. Consequently, my gut feels better. The area I didn't like is smooth as silk now. I was offered redemption! I guess I'm just saying that I'm stoked I got this chance and wish there was some part of the process that could be built-in for it, but it's textbook malpractice. Just costs to much.

It must be said, also, that the process isn't completed, yet. The code is still being rewritten and this entire rewrite is to take 4-6 weeks. In other word, I have very little time to test my new design and testing is the real proof. Without the testing, it's just a hunch, and that's scarier than not having a strong gut feeling about it. So I'm struggling to get to a point where I can test, and testing takes so much time, and means iteration. Gotta do it. Otherwise, there goes that twinge in the gut again. Ready to release on a beta of 30 large clients without usability testing? I have just one thing to ask ya, are you feelin' lucky? Huh, punk, are ya?

1 comment:

  1. Well, all I wanted to say is that you are a lucky fellow to have gotten that other chance at making it all RIGHT again!! It is not every day that this happens. Probably, in the eyes of others, it was good to begin with but the designer is usually the perfectionist and things need to be JUST SO..!! Glad for you man!! Keep it up!


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