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Iteration Leads To Powerful Results in Design.

“You can only make it once but you can make it better as many times as you need”

Clients rarely arrive at a design firm with a detailed project roadmap in hand. Instead, they have a hazy idea of what they require – make it pop, bring a wow factor, make it look good, and so on. In such cases, the designer’s main challenge is to get into the clients’ heads and create things exactly how they want the product to look, even if the clients themselves lack understanding.

The best way to ensure your design is a perfect fit is to work in iterations. This allows us to create a solution that satisfies the client and meets the needs of the customer.

Iteration Leads To Powerful Results in Design

Iteration, the most fundamental concept in design

In its most basic form, iteration is simply a series of steps that you repeat, tweaking and improving your product each time. With every repetition, iteration aims to move a little bit closer to the optimal situation. As designers, we are always looking to improve on the current design approach and this is where an iterative design process comes in handy.

​​You can think of the iterative design process as a continuous cycle of prototyping, testing, and making adjustments and refinements – it is an ongoing, incremental process leading to the best possible outcome.

The 1997 version of
The 1997 version of
The 2022 version of
The 2022 version of

It’s fascinating to observe how the product gradually changed the appearance of its own homepage, going from its ugly beginnings to its current minimalism to align with the current design trends and in response to user feedback.

The do’s and don’ts of design Iteration

  1. Do: Fail Faster
    Embrace trial and error to learn what not to do even when you miss the mark by adopting a “fail faster” mentality. Since failure is unavoidable, it is best to deal with it as soon as possible while still taking note of what can be learned.
  1. Do: Be Flexible
    Design methodologies still allow for some flexibility even though they have strict guidelines to help us express our creative freedom without devoting too much time to each iteration. In the end, we must choose which opportunities to prioritize first, when to iterate or test more, and how many concurrent design iteration processes should be running at once.

    These choices are largely based on intuition and experience, utilizing any data and research that may be available.
  2. Do: Work Asynchronously
    Utilizing all resources (tools, teammates, etc.), complete tasks as quickly as possible by allowing other designers to work on unrelated aspects of the product in parallel and developers to start putting validated solutions into practice. By doing both of these, product turnaround times will be drastically reduced.
  1. Do: Collaborate and Listen
    Which issue ought to be resolved? What version is the best? Is the testable prototype ready? What do all of these comments mean? We are confident in our ability to respond to these questions because of the unique expertise and new perspective that our teamwork partners have to offer.
Iteration in Design
  1. Don’t: Try to Solve Everything
    Avoid attempting to solve new problems once the issue we’re solving during the design iteration process has been selected. Even though it’s common to find areas that can be improved (during testing or through observation), make a note of them since they might make excellent starting points for subsequent iterations.

    We cannot measure the effect that design iterations are having on key metrics if we allow scope creep to occur.

Benefits of Iteration in Design

  1. It Saves Resources
    Because iterative design processes frequently give us user feedback (or stakeholder feedback, at the very least), which drives us forward at a steady pace, they almost always save the most time.

    Positive feedback can help us know when we’re heading in the right direction, and negative feedback can help us know when we’re heading in the wrong direction, so we’re always moving forward and never really wasting any precious time.

    Without any feedback, we run the risk of racing to the finish line only to fall short, wasting a lot of time and bandwidth. Design iteration is also the most economical choice because time is money.
  1. It Facilitates Collaboration
    Healthy collaboration is facilitated by an iterative design process because it gives stakeholders the chance to provide feedback and even share their own ideas. This gives us information that we wouldn’t have learned on our own because we can only see things from our own point of view.
  1. It Addresses Real User Needs
    Designers have a tendency to work alone if they don’t follow a methodical iteration process (especially one that includes collaboration). Being siloed makes us overly introspective, which causes us to jump to conclusions and engage in counterproductive perfectionist tendencies.

    But using an iterative design process makes sure we remain focused on user needs and make choices based on their input. Additionally, prioritizing the next best design improvement method rather than concentrating on haphazard ones helps us.
  1. Facilitates Regular Updates
    Instead of just dumping the end result on stakeholders and keeping them in the dark until then, an iterative design process allows us to regularly update them on the status of the project.

    It means that developers can start even while the design is still in progress, which is especially advantageous for developers.

In Conclusion

Designers can quickly create and test ideas thanks to the iterative design. Those that show promise can be quickly iterated until they take enough shape to be developed, while those that don’t show promise can be abandoned right away.

The 90’s version of
The 90’s version of

Here’s an example of what happens when we don’t iterate – this 90s website is still around.

So do it, then do it again!

About the Author: Unnathi is a UI/UX designer, currently working at Mantra Labs. She is passionate about research and has expertise in building digital systems that provide engaging experiences. 


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