Software Development's Evolution towards Product Design

Some product managers spend more time designing products than they should. If you're drawing screen samples and logic flow, you're not writing requirements, you're specifying design. Check out On Reqs and Specs to understand the difference. Product design is a skill! Hardware is designed by an industrial designer. Why isn't software?

One such designer comments: Occasionally, some poor fellow at a dinner party makes the unfortunate mistake of asking what I do for a living. My initial (and quite subdued) response is that I help design software for artists. Then comes the inevitable question, "Oh, so you are a programmer?" A gleam appears in my eye and I no longer feel obligated to blather on about the rainy weather. With a great flourish, I whip out my gold nibbed pen and draw a little diagram on a napkin that explains concisely how modern software development works. In the grand finale, I circle one of the little scribbles buried deep in the entire convoluted process and proudly proclaim "And that is what I do!" This admittedly selfish exercise usually keeps everyone involved merrily entertained until dessert arrives. Read more about software design in Software Development's Evolution towards Product Design.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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