Making Software Design More Like Architecture: Renderings

It occurs to me that there's another way that software design is not like architecture. Architects typically create a rendering of their design. This is a model or picture(s) used to convey to lay people what the design will look like when the construction is complete. I don't believe that many software design projects produce a complete rendering of the system as part of their deliverables.

How do we create renderings of a design during software design? Does UML count? I don't think so. That's more like the building plans that an architect draws. What about user interface mock-ups that a user interface architect creates? This may be more analogous. However, not every project has the luxury of having a interface architect on it (much less during design).

Should this be part of software architecture? It seems like business users need renderings to understand what we are designing. Often I hear business users asking, "What would that LOOK like?"

How do you get this into your development methodology? Sometimes architects spend alot of time modeling or drawing sketches of their designs. It seems that we would need similar time to mock-up our interfaces.

Thinking along these lines makes me think that user interface architects need to be in on the design from the very beginning. This would give them the time they need to create these renderings at the beginning of the project.

This means that they need to come in and design in conjunction (or possibly even before) the software architect. (Well, only if the software architect is not an all-in-one wonder kid.) So, this means that the interface architect should be part of the design team.

It would be interesting to research how design teams that include an interface architect prevent stepping on each other and what their methodology looks like.

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