“Designers are afraid of incremental design but to launch faster you need an incremental vision.”— Katie Dill
An incremental vision allows you to deliver the output, in our case design, in small increments to your customer.
In simple words, the incremental design is to split the design problem into small problems and work on these problems one by one, while making improvements in the solutions by getting feedback from the customer.
However, in today’s world, this approach is not much useful. The customer will not wait too long until the entire product design is completed. And there is a chance that the product is not providing the features that the customer wants.
It means there is a need to move towards an incremental design approach. It is much better to deliver a less good increment of your design earlier to your customer and get his feedback and make improvements in the next increment of design.
Take an example of a text editor. If you follow the traditional approach and design maximum possible features of text editor before releasing design to the customer, you will face certain issues.
Your customer will wait long without any clue of your design. He is not able to provide any feedback. He is not aware of your approach. He is not part of your design process. He will get the entire design at once and then only he can provide his feedback. The changes are becoming costly and more time consuming as you have to re-work a lot.
If you follow an incremental design approach to design a text editor, what will happen? You will decide a minimum viable product (MVP) as the first increment and start working on that.
You will meet your customers regularly, involve him in your design decisions, take his feedback on the MVP and determine the strategic direction of further product development. Hence, you will remain much closer to the right product as your customer is part of the process. Delivering increment by increment will help to cater to changes easily in coming increments.
The UX Book: Agile UX Design for a Quality User Experience
If we summarize, the benefits of the incremental design are:
Continuous Improvement – By delivering a small feature, you have the chance to get feedback after each iteration and hence improve your product in the next iteration.
Visibility –Client has the transparency of functionality that is being implemented. He can easily review things and suggest changes.
More flexibility – Change management is easier as updating design after an increment is less costly as compared to updating the design after creating the whole functionality.
More productivity – Teams feel more productive as they are delivering something quite often and get a response on their delivery.
Launch Faster – And most importantly, incremental design leads to incremental development. Hence, you can launch a working product and go to market faster, and generates revenue earlier than if you work on the design and development of fully-featured product before its launch.