Architecture and Software

I’ve been thinking about the similarities between UI design and Architecture in the built environment sense are uncanny. The processes involved are so similar that they can be applied to both discipline’s, yet the final result is very different. One you can touch the other is virtual, one may be constructed from treated wooden logs the other you can log in to.

Surely some must be thinking that how can this be… this is crazy designing a front end for a application can’t at all be similar to designing a building or an open space.

Fair enough that’s a good point, you could liken it to the similarities of getting a builder to design your house or a landscape gardener to design your private open space. Most of the time they’re not going to step through the required processes to get the job done. So from that the above question is true. They may cut corners and you may end up with a toilet running off the kitchen. As is the same with UI Design, you may get you someone who has some knowledge of the web to build an application for you, sure it may seem cheaper in he short term but you’ll be paying for it over time with bugs (features?) or frustrated usability.

Below is a list of how I see the processes marry up. The actions relating to software in parentheses.

Built Evironment Architecture Software UI Architecture
Submission Submission
Project Brief Business Analyst
Concept Drawings/Design Process Functional Specs / UI work flows / Use cases
Adhering to the Council/Australian Standards Development Best Practises/Coding Standards
Client Approval Client Approval
Devlopment Approval Development Approval
Project Tendering Outsourcing
Construction Development
Contract Admiistration Bug Fixing / Testing
Construction Completion Development Handover

This is quite a broad overview between the two disciplines but as you can see their processes are similar even though the terminology may change slightly.

They call it software architecture for a reason. Software has been around a few years less than the built environment and you can see why they’ve penned the term. If computers were around in the Renaissance period do you think Leonardo da Vinci would of been a Software Architect?

So you’re saying because I’m a UI Architect I can now become a registered architect and start building stuff?

Unfortunately you’ll need to get yourself into university for at least 4 years depending on your design strand. Then you’ll need accreditation to become registered. You can find more information about the built environment AILA and RAIA.

On a recent trip to Spain I stopped off in Barcelona to visit the Church of the Holy Family designed by the brilliant Antonio Gaudi. Although unfinished it’s the most amazing building I have ever seen. It’s something for your software to aspire too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *