An Overview of Design Architecture Operations

Design architecture operations is a digital practice that focuses on the reliable implementation of architecture and 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 the design and software development efforts across smaller teams and projects. However, these methods do not solve for systemic experience design complexity and usually become strained by the weight of architectural and operational ambiguity.

A number of approaches have helped to mature how business, design, and technology teams collaborate and address scale. The widespread adoption of scrum development and front-end design systems are chief among them. The latest development that is gaining traction is the concept of Design Operations (or designOps).

There is no definitive definition for designOps at the moment. But, in principle the objective of designOps is to recognize the organizational activities necessary to maintain a productive design organization at scale and is mainly in reference to digital. Dave Malouf, an early author of designOps thinking, illustrates designOps across four key areas: workflow, people, tools & infrastructure, and governance.

My perspective complements design ops by addressing the areas of governance, workflow, and people (Figure 2.0).

Figure 1.0 A model for Design Ops by Dave Malouf



Figure 2.0 Where design architecture operations contribute to design operations.


I’ve developed a comprehensive framework to help teams sustain complex experience architectures and experience design implementations over time. My approach addresses four core digital experience architecture activities:

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

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

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

Architect it. Own it.™