The digital pharma product development process: 10 stages
When designing digital products and services, the process of transitioning from design to development plays a critical role in bringing concepts to life.
Our Design Lead, Edward Hart, explains why this process is so important, and the strategies you can put in place to ensure it runs smoothly.
In the world of digital pharma products, where innovation and precision are paramount, the process of transitioning from design to development plays a critical role in bringing concepts to life.
As a specialist design agency partnering with pharmaceutical and healthcare clients, we understand the concerns that can arise during this transition phase. Our experience has allowed us to establish a robust set of strategies to ensure a seamless collaboration with development teams, enabling us to effectively guide the translation of designs into functional products.
This article explores the importance of collaboration, identifies common challenges, and outlines strategies that have proven pivotal to our success.
Designers conceptualise user experiences, while development teams transform these concepts into functional realities. When creating digital products and services in pharma and healthcare, close collaboration and a strong partnership between design and development teams is crucial. These are 3 reasons why:
Harmonising creativity and feasibility: Collaboration bridges the gap between imaginative design and practical execution. By uniting design insights with technical expertise, we ensure that innovative concepts come to life in ways that are both creative and achievable.
Early problem solving: Collaborating early highlights potential obstacles. Gaining developers' insights into technical feasibility allows for swift adjustments to product designs, preventing issues from escalating and saving valuable time and resources.
Holistic user-centric approach: Joint efforts create a holistic approach to user-centric design. Developers, attuned to technical intricacies, contribute to an experience that not only looks great but also functions seamlessly, enhancing user experiences.
The design-to-development transition presents certain common challenges that require strategic planning in order to avoid.
Misalignment and ambiguity: Divergent interpretations of design intent can lead to misalignment and confusion. Ambiguity around design elements compounds these issues.
Balancing creativity and constraints: Bridging the gap between design vision and technical reality requires careful balance to ensure that innovation isn't compromised by constraints.
Communication breakdown: Transparent communication is vital. A lack thereof can lead to misunderstandings and rework, hampering progress.
Scope and feature creep: Undefined scopes or added features disrupt the transition. Maintaining a clear scope and avoiding feature creep is crucial.
Recognising the role of collaboration and being aware of potential challenges sets the stage for a productive partnership between design teams and technical development teams. By actively addressing these challenges and implementing strategies that foster effective communication, clarify design, and leverage cross-functional expertise, we can ensure the seamless transformation of visionary designs into impactful pharmaceutical products.
These are 3 strategies for mitigating challenges and ensuring a seamless transition:
Detailed documentation forms the cornerstone of a seamless transition. Thorough design specifications, interactive prototypes, and comprehensive style guides serve as invaluable references for development teams. These documents bridge the gap between design and development, offering a clear roadmap to transform creative ideas into functional features.
Learn more about what we mean by documenting design and how you can do it well here.
Transparent and ongoing communication is pivotal to effective collaboration, and this should happen from as early a stage as possible. Regular meetings and updates between teams create a platform for sharing insights, addressing concerns, and aligning expectations.
Leveraging project management tools or collaboration platforms streamlines communication, making it easy to monitor progress and maintain a shared understanding.
It’s also important that both design teams and development teams ‘speak each others languages’ and understand the technical terminology relevant to each role, minimising risk of misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
Feedback loops within the design-to-development process establish an iterative cycle of improvement. Development teams can provide insights into the feasibility of design elements, while designers can contribute solutions to technical challenges. This iterative approach ensures that design refinements are guided by real-world technical considerations.
A successful transition from design to development offers a range of benefits that extend beyond process efficiency:
Enhanced quality: Clear communication and thorough documentation will lead to a more accurate translation of design into the final product, resulting in high quality digital products and services that meet the need and expectations of both your product stakeholders, and your customers .
Accelerated time-to-market: Minimised misunderstandings and need for design revisions expedite the product development timeline, enabling faster product launches.
Optimised user experience: When designs seamlessly translate into functional applications, the intended user experience is preserved, resulting in higher user satisfaction. When you’ve invested in early-stage user research and testing to inform your digital designs, this is particularly important.
Cost efficiency: Efficient collaboration and reduced revisions lead to streamlined resource utilisation and cost savings. With technical development usually the most costly phase in a digital product build, it’s important to get it right first time and ensure the process runs smoothly.
The transition from design to development is a pivotal phase that requires careful navigation in any digital project. By nurturing collaboration, addressing common challenges through documentation, communication, and iterative feedback, and acknowledging the multitude of benefits from a seamless transition, we assure our pharmaceutical clients that their projects are in capable hands.
Using the strategies set out in this article, we’ve seen first-hand how seamless design to development workflows — and utilising the power of design systems (read more on design systems) — can accelerate build timelines for pharma brand sites from 3 – 6 months on average to just 2 weeks.
Whether working with our own trusted development partners, or your in-house teams, we leverage tried and tested approaches to reduce complexity and bring your digital concepts to life through successful collaboration.