Union of Design and Engineering | 2013 Award Categories

Union of Design and Engineering

Traditionally, designers and engineers worked in separate organizational silos, interacting by throwing deliverables “over the wall.” But now the two practice areas are more intensively collaborative and integrated, which results in more practicable designs, better designed implementations, lessened risk, and improved success in projects. This award recognizes companies, teams, project/product groups, and other assemblages of designers and engineers that are shining examples of cross-disciplinary collaboration in the achievement of success in creating digital solutions.


Two years ago the teams at HealthPartners were operating under a stagnant waterfall methodology. There was little communication across teams, confusion over roles and ownership, poor processes, frustration with legacy technical debt, and little outreach to their broader business base. Unhappy and in trouble, the teams challenged the idea of excluding development from discovery and worked together to raise technical issues to high-level business partners. The UX team created standards and a pattern library, which reduced guesswork, documentation and effort for UX, development, and QA. The judges were really enjoyed this success story, finding resource value in their approach. They were also impressed with their founding of a local Lean group.
The UX team at AppFolio was created in late 2010, joining a team of agile software engineers who had already built a product with ease-of-use as the key competitive advantage. Over the past three years both teams have worked to redefine the traditional role of UX from “deliverer of design solutions and user feedback” to “facilitator of collaborative design.” The judges liked the impressive amount of effort that has gone into creating true collaboration.