The Iterative Design Approach: Why and How to Use

Your MVP is already released, so now it is time to think about improving your creation and, therefore, increasing its popularity and your profits. But how to do this? Obviously, implementing all the changes which come to your mind is illogical.

You can accidentally make the right choice and succeed, but such luck is not likely to repeat in the future. Instead, we recommend trying the iterative design approach. Keep reading to learn what it is, what benefits it hides, and how to follow it.

Iterative Design: Definition and Advantages

So, the iterative design approach implies improving and polishing the product’s design over time on the basis of feedback and its evaluation. This approach has plenty of benefits, and here are some of them:

  • It brings out the feedback of your users to make sure that the product system requirements meet their needs
  • It allows the team to reduce usability issues and, therefore, guarantee a good UX of the product
  • Costs of dealing with mistakes are minimal, as the development team may reveal all the issues at the early stage. This also saves your time.
  • And last, but not least — this approach provides your stakeholders (in case you have them) with better visibility of your progress

Now, when you know the advantages of the iterative design approach, it is time to tell you what steps it consists of.

5 Stages of Iterative Design

1. Planning and requirements

As usually, updating your product starts with careful planning of your strategy and developing software requirements. Here is a short guide on doing this:

Start with a template

We guess your software partner already has enough templates for writing software requirements, but you have to know how a really nice template looks like. It should include a cover page, section headings, all the essential guidelines for the content, and an explanation of how the changes made to the document should be controlled.

Identify the writer

Your development team may have a lot of professionals ready to help with writing software requirements, but we recommend to entrust this mission only to one of them. Otherwise, the document may turn into a mess. Sure, the requirements development can involve the entire team, but only one person should work on the document itself.

Define the requirements

You will have to find out what kind of improvements you want to go for first. Let’s say, you are thinking of updating the design of your application, and want to change the color of several buttons. But this change won’t make a lot of sense in case users open your app only once and then forget about it. In this case, it is much better to start with fixing bugs and improving your product’s functionality.

To define your requirements, you will have to collect and analyze the feedback of your users. Fortunately, there are more than enough ways to do this.

Write the document

After you have analyzed the users’ feedback and created all the tasks you want to complete, it is time to write a document. Again, this step should be completed by a technical writer from your development team — in this way, the document will be written in a language clear to the developers.

Validate the document

That’s the final step — check everything one more time and validate your software requirements.

2. Analysis and Design

When you are done with planning, it is time to perform analysis and define what business logic your project requires. So, business logic manages communication between the database and the end user. It consists of two main components: business rules and workflow. The rules describe specific procedures, and the workflow is about tasks, procedural steps, essential input and output information, and the required tools. This may sound complicated, but here are several examples of business rules for you:

  • A user must log in to send a friend request
  • A user must be able to choose who can view their photos
  • A user must be notified about posts made by their friends
  • A user must be able to edit pictures right in the app
  • A user must provide their phone number in order to create an account

Regarding the workflow, the process of its development usually consists of the following steps:

  • Identifying the final outcome
  • Developing a series of steps essential to reach the final outcome
  • Listing all the tasks and documents required for each of the steps
  • Identifying the order in which these tasks should be delivered
  • Assigning the tasks
  • Defining a duration for every task

3. Implementation

Everything is extremely obvious here — based on software requirements and the results of the analysis, the coding process begins!

At the beginning of every iteration, your development team should touch base with you to negotiate on what exactly can and should be done in this iteration and which tasks have top priority. Once the iteration is over, all changes to the code are usually uploaded to the staging server (or even to a production server if you update your product so regularly).

By the way, here we have a cool guide on how to interact with your team in the right way.

4. Testing

As always, after the coding is done, it is time to test the product in order to identify and fix all the bugs. Just like the previous step, this one is completed by your software partner, but we have still prepared several testing tips which can be useful for you:

  • To complete the testing phase in every iteration as quickly and efficiently as possible, you need flawless communication between you, developers, and testers. Emails and messages can be not enough — it is also essential to make phone calls regularly to ensure that there is no misunderstanding. Apart from this, consistent and regular feedback is a must.
  • Free testing tools may be enough, but we also recommend to consider the paid ones if they can speed up the process significantly. During the testing phase, it is also crucial to be as close to the actual user experience as possible, and sometimes paid tools can help here.
  • Apart from the product, it is also important to test the user documentation before proceeding to quality assurance — make sure this step is not missed!

We have several more testing tips — contact us to find them out and become fully prepared for the testing phase.

5. Evaluation

This is the last stage of the iterative design approach — you and your development team have to examine the prototype and check if it meets all the requirements. Then, if the product is still missing some changes, you will have to go through the iterative design cycle again. And then again, if necessary.

The iterative design approach can be helpful not only after the product launch — feel free to use it at any time of the design process. However, we would highly recommend to implement it as early as possible. The earlier you do this, the more cost-effective and time-saving this approach will be! The thing is that it is much easier to create a prototype and to test it than to develop a ready product and then go for significant changes. In any case, you already know how this approach works, and a good software team will always help you to deal with all its stages.

20 Feb 2019
Anastasia Lushyna / Business Development Expert
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