The lively anatomy of projects – a UX story

I’ve always imagined projects as living organisms. Maybe that’s because of my fascination with biology. Or perhaps it’s just my job nature as a UX Designer. But working on projects gives me the chance to collaborate closely with all disciplines and this makes me perceive each project as vibrant and alive.   So let’s use this organic approach and explore the dynamics of a project as an organism. Analyse its fine layers under the microscope and look at its intricate cell geometries and communicating networks. Perhaps this approach can help us better understand the perks of working together rather than apart.

The creative chemistry of the discipline cell

the building blocks

If we looked at the most basic level of all organisms we will identify cells as their fundamental building blocks. But being elementary doesn’t make them simple. On the contrary, cells are highly complex pieces of information that hold the key to survival. Taking this even further, the term ‘’cell’’ is a flexible, versatile concept. When used in allegories, it explains structures, environments, and systems of all natures.

Now imagine disciplines in a project as cells. As they grow by feeding themselves with both technical and social nutrients, they begin to generate creative energy. And so they develop their own unique tissue to keep them connected and cohesive. But besides their collaborative nature, they also have an intrinsic one. That means that a discipline taken individually is equally vital for the project’s main goal: to make a successful product.

The individual power of a discipline is to make the best of its technical specialization:

  • Business analysis, for example, is that type of cell that assures the flow of energy from the client to the project and back. It creates a type of environment that keeps and enforces the vital connection to the business vision and goals.
  • Development is the cell that builds and repairs, contributing to the actual growth of the product.
  • Testing offers structure and support and overviews the whole experience. It ensures the project holds together as a solid living block.

The UX cell role

So what about User Experience (UX)? How does it fit within this approach  and why hasn’t it been mentioned yet? Well, that’s because it doesn’t really need to be literally mentioned. UX lies in every single discipline – whether we notice it or not.

We could consider UX a cell as well since it’s a stand-alone discipline. But what I want to suggest is that we should view UX beyond this concept. UX is not only a discipline but also a mindset. It’s a living component in all of the other disciplines. Whether we choose to manage this component or not, its effects lie out there anyway, beyond the extra membrane of our living project. In other words, users will experience the effect of our work whether or not we consider their expectations in the first place.

As a stand alone discipline, UX is meant to activate the attention for the users and place them in the center of the process. Research, ideation, analysis, usability testing are just some of the processes that UX employs. And so it generates an energy that flows into the the other disciplines, adding to the health of the project life-cycle. This adds extra value to the general goal of just making the product work.

The happy team tissue – when cells work together

Life flows through a well functional tissue like collaborative energy runs through a healthy project. In other words, disciplines within a project can only reach accomplishment by cultivating a teamwork environment. No matter how specialized these are individually, they cannot perform properly on their own. Like the way cells group into tissues, disciplines work together to accomplish the necessary actions in order to sustain an efficient workflow.

A good example that enforces this concept is Agile. This methodology came out of the need of developing high-quality products in a fast, efficient way. Specialists discovered that the best way to bring value to the users is by cultivating collaborations between cross-functional teams. This is the core of Agile development.


If the UX mindset is kept alive throughout the entire process, it also means it has room to grow. When well cultivated, UX can specialize even more, leading to phenomena like design thinking which can spread not only to other disciplines, but to the entire ecosystem – the company. But this is subject to a future article.

Have your say

Do you feel UX as part of your project? How do the different disciplines work together? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.