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Part two: Disrupting design and tech with HCD and low-code

Forget keeping up - set the pace for your competitors with a new way of doing things.

Published on
October 26, 2023
Nathaniel Powell


This is part two of a two part blog series. If you haven’t already, we recommend you go back and read part one first, here.

Two weeks ago we released part one of this blog series. We reflected on HCD, it’s brilliance, but also where it tends to go off track. We specifically looked at how the technology we’re handed to build customer value propositions (CVPs) can at times be more hindrance than enabler. We also introduced a new way of doing things with two familiar practices: pairing HCD with low-code development to skim over the top of tech debt rather than push through it. But enough of the conceptual stuff. This post is all about what you can do about it.

So HCD & low-code, what’s different?

With a low-code approach, a designer and developer can more closely collaborate on embedding a human-centric design into a digital solution. The subtleties and finely honed requirements of delivering a differentiating, desirable experience for the customer no longer need be overwhelmed by the function and process of a rigid technical platform. Instead, aspects such as Visual Modeling allow the design/development team to utilise the application’s data model, user interfaces, business logic, and integrations using drag-and-drop components to better contextualise the experience.

The low-code platform can be discreetly organised into composable elements that mirror the experience. This ‘composable architecture’ provides the ability to build and extend low-code applications by assembling pre-built components, services, and functionalities in a modular and flexible manner.

It allows the designer/developer team to compose applications like building blocks, selecting and integrating specific components as needed to meet the unique requirements of the experience. Modularity, pre-built components, and reusable logic combine to deliver the moments that matter more efficiently, with less effort.

How can I leverage it?

If you have identified complex, emotive, and high-impact moments that matter in the journeys of customers or employees, it’s your responsibility as a business leader to act on them. These moments are likely to be underserved, supported by a one-size-fits-all design, and are typically pain points that are too hard to address due to technical debt issues.

Leaders should seek to leverage low-code and HCD to model a composable solution in a minimal viable product (MVP) and test this with the market.

But what about all our existing tech?

By no means are we suggesting that you move away entirely from your legacy stack. It has a place - but legacy systems are simply not suitable for rapid prototype development and release. Both low-code and legacy systems have a role in two-speed architecture (another concept that's been around for a while!). Two speed architecture uses a fast, composable, customisable system for rapid adaptation to customer needs, supported by a slow-speed, transaction-focussed back-end.

How to get started.

Set up an HCD X low-code Studio with the sole purpose of developing differentiating customer value propositions (CVPs). Prove value quickly with ‘high-risk, high-reward’ offers that have a material impact on customer acquisition, retention, or share of wallet. Mind you, if it’s led by HCD, shouldn’t be that risky at all. Of course, whatever you choose to turn into a proof of concept, ensure it aligns with your organisation’s aspiration in market.

The studio is home to your rapid design and development team. As a minimum you'll need one Designer and one low-code Engineer. Sound lean? It is. HCD X low-code teams, are typically half the size and execute five times faster than high code, analysis-driven efforts. Teams collaborate far more effectively in composable architecture, and different team members can work on individual components concurrently as changes to one component need not disrupt the rest of the application.

Keep this team separate from all things business-as-usual. Settle in an unused corner of the office or find your own space to minimise distractions, spark creativity, and allow your team to unify behind one common goal.

Then there’s the timing. With the efficiency HCD-low code brings, we’d set a deadline of having a solution in front of a customer within 6-8 weeks. Not months. Weeks. Composable architectures align with the principles of rapid application development (RAD) by reducing the time and effort required to build and modify applications. Whilst the benefit of speed is largely well known within organisations, it is rarely well implemented, leaving new offers out to dry in the face of changing needs of customers and competition. Keep collaboration tight, meetings to a minimum, and understand that HCD-Low code implementations are a new way of working. Leave the status quo at the door of the studio and kindly close it behind you.

Need help getting started? We can help

Having set-up our own HCD X low-code studio to build new CVPs for our clients, we know how hard it can be to go against the grain but it's worth it. Be it building a proof of concept, setting up your team, or if you're just after some advice, get in touch below. We'd love to help.

Speak with an expert

Daragh Henchy
Head of Digital Experience & Implementation
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