Consider a Development Stage Framework

Control the product development conversation and ensure the team is prioritizing the right kind of work by implementing a Development Stage framework.

The Development Stage framework in a nutshell:

Three distinct stages that increase in implementation detail as each stage is successfully completed.

Why implement the Development Stage framework?

During a sprint I’ve found it to be extremely common for software development teams to bounce between topics, ideas, and focuses. Despite what the sprint board displays, one day we’re talking about navigation elements and the next we’re tightening the radius of a button. The Development Stage framework ensures a team is aligned to what degree of detail is to be discussed during each phase and what the rules for moving through the phases are.

With the Development Stage framework you eliminate the hard-to-control banter within a product development team that leads to unfocused and hasty implementation of features.

How does the Development Stage framework play with a traditional sprint planning process?

Ideally, as a product manager you have a strong vision for how to plan your sprints. The Development Stage framework is meant to be a strategy layer that sits above your sprint process to designate where the team is in the development process.

Instead of your team just completing “30% of a sprint” they’ve completed “Stage #1: Broad User Experience Implementation” and will be moving into stage #2.

The Development Stage framework is not meant to be your only sprint organization tool. It’s simply meant to summarize the broader phases of development and design the team will align to and pass through together.

Stage descriptions:

1️⃣ Stage #1: Broad User Experience Implementation

Work that happens in this stage:

  • Implementing main navigation destinations
  • Implementing navigation UX across all supported devices
  • Implementing each page within the app with temporary filler text that includes a title of the page so you know where you are
  • Implementing navigation UX such as swipes, modals, etc
  • Grayscale and lorem ipsum UI implementation

Work that doesn’t happen in this stage

  • Implementing detailed UI components
  • Implementing the UI’s color scheme or brand attributes
  • Implementing the exact copy that will display on each screen

Goal of this stage:

Implement the broad user experience so the team can begin testing how a user would navigate the application.

Questions to ask as a team:

  • Is the navigation hierarchy intuitive?
  • Are the navigation paradigms (swipe, scroll, etc) detracting from the app experience?
  • What parts of the UX could we simplify / remove?

2️⃣ Stage #2: Focused User Experience Implementation

Work that happens in this stage:

  • Implementing simplified UI elements such as rounded or cornered buttons, carousels, and placeholder images
  • Implementing first draft of copy
  • Implementing main color groups

Work that doesn’t happen in this stage

  • Detailed UI polishing such as adjusting drop shadows, border radiuses or implementing color gradients
  • Implementing animations that aren’t critical to navigation UX

Goal of this stage:

Implement core UI elements that impact app user experience. For example, lorem ipsum can make an app look deceivingly clean.

Questions to ask as a team:

  • Does the navigation paradigm we’ve designed fit the content we need to display?
  • Which aspects of the app UX are too busy? too sparse?

3️⃣ Stage #3: Detailed User Interface Implementation

Work that happens in this stage:

  • Implementing detailed UI elements: colors, drop shadows, button animations, gradients, etc
  • Adjusting copy to fit app UI across all supported devices

Work that doesn’t happen in this stage

  • Navigation redesign

Goal of this stage:

Implement detailed UI elements to deliver the unique app experience your team has created.

Questions to ask as a team:

  • Does the UI convey our brand?
  • Are there aspects of the UI that are designed to surprise and delight a user?
  • Is the information hierarchy clear across all pages?