Conway’s law – five laws of UX
Have you ever used software where the look-and-feel was so different from the marketing page that convinced you to try it, that it left you wondering if you downloaded the wrong thing? It’s Conway’s law in action. Your experience was affected by the organizational structure of the company that built the product.
“Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.”
Melvin E. Conway is a software engineer who first noticed that, in order for a software module to function, multiple authors must communicate frequently with each other. Therefore, the software interface structure of a system will reflect the social boundaries of the organization(s) that produced it.
Managing a large number of employees is challenging, and most companies organize themselves in smaller units tasked with different aspects of the business. This structure increases efficiency and clarifies accountability. Unfortunately for us, user journeys often cut across several business areas, and it might feel broken if no one supervises the journey in its entirety. Even if each unit holds a high quality bar, the entire user experience might feel quickly glued together from separate components.
The same might happen within one team if designers who work on different features don’t communicate enough, or are simply too afraid to step on each other’s toes and raise concerns about inconsistencies.
Be mindful of how parts of your organization reflect the essential parts of the product. Ensure shared vision of user experience and strong communication between teams.