An Overview of Design Architecture Operations

Design architecture operations is a digital practice that focuses on the reliable implementation and management of architecture in the design of complex user interface environments.

Organizations can be challenged by the scale and complexity of creating digital environments for human engagement. Lean and agile methods are commonly used as a way to distribute design and software development efforts across smaller teams and projects. However, these methods do not solve for system-level complexity and usually become strained by the weight of architectural ambiguity.

A number of approaches have helped to mature how business, design, and technology teams collaborate to address scale. Chief among them is the widespread adoption of scrum development and UI design systems [1]. The latest development that is gaining traction is the growing need for Design Operations (or DesignOps) [2].

The objective of designOps is to enable productive design organizations at scale. Dave Malouf is an early contributor to designOps thinking and has produced a practical model. He illustrates designOps across four key areas: workflow, people, tools & infrastructure, and governance.

Figure 1.0 A model for Design Ops by Dave Malouf


I developed a practice of design architecture operations to be a component within design operations. It provides diligence in the areas of governance, workflow, and people (Figure 2.0). Design architecture operations can empower design teams with reliable frameworks that promote process, the use of effective methods, and a culture of learning.

Additionally, organizations will see improved UI performance, sustainable content structures, and greater organizational stability as environments increase in size and complexity.

Figure 2.0 Where design architecture operations contribute to design operations.

I’ve developed a comprehensive design architecture framework that helps teams to manage the complexity of aligning business objectives with targeted user behaviors and the underlying UI interactions over time.

My approach to design architecture is informed by four key activities for managing digital experience architecture:

  • Context Analysis
  • Research, Testing & Analytics
  • Design Architecture
  • Infrastructure Architecture

For each core activity, I identify gaps and establish sound practices that help teams to mature their design architecture competencies:

  • achieve organizational alignment,
  • adopt core conceptual models across the organization,
  • integrate architecture and design, and
  • thrive with design & developer process integration

Check out this post on What is a Design Architect? It provides an introduction to a key role in delivering effective design solutions and operations at scale.

Architect it. Own it.™



[1] A Comprehensive Guide to Design Systems

A comprehensive guide to design systems

[2] Understanding the Role of Design Operations on Your Team