May 25, 2023

The Difference Between Design Specification and Constraint

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Specification represents an important part of the design process or can be assumed prior to design for the establishment of the product, artifact, or system framework. Design Specification Software enables better collaboration between design and development teams. It is used to be a bunch of documents that provide an overall description of the software, its functions, and its interface.

The design specification is also called a combination of constraints, requirements, and considerations, which are created for a solution to be successful. It will contain technical information about the product architecture to meet the requirements.

What is a design specification?

The design specification is a comprehensive document that guides the development of high-quality, reliable, and maintainable software systems. It outlines the detailed design and functionality and serves as a blueprint for software development. 

To learn the design specification basics, you should understand that it encompasses various aspects of the software, including its architecture, modules, data structures, algorithms, user interfaces, and integration requirements. The specification defines the solution’s behavior, inputs, outputs, and interactions with external systems. It also outlines the technical specifications, such as hardware and software dependencies, performance requirements, and security considerations.

Software architects and designers create the design specification based on the requirements of stakeholders. The document acts as a communication tool between the development team and other involved parties, ensuring a common understanding of the product’s design. It helps mitigate risks by identifying potential design issues early in the development process and allows for effective collaboration among team members.

Elements of design specification

A design specification example must include all necessary drawings, dimensions, environmental factors, aesthetic factors, quality, safety, documentation, and description. Design specifications are the documents, which provide user interface design details, character styles, information behaviors, and functionality.

The product design specification lays the groundwork for all design activities. A developer takes design into production and builds the product, according to the specifications. What is sustainable logistics? Find an answer in our new article.

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Design Specification is reviewed then and approved by the System Developer and Quality Assurance team. Quality Assurance assures that the document complies with appropriate regulations and that all requirements are successfully addressed.

Design specifications give the opportunity for developers to visualize and collect information. Design variants bridge the gap between the prototype and development phases of the UX process.

Role of design specification in web development

The specification possesses multiple roles in web development. The role of design specification is considerable because it helps the designers fulfill the purpose of the product.

Communication between design engineers with stakeholders helps to develop a good specifications. The factors which affect the development process are company type, budget allocation, company-client relationship, and the complexity of the product.

Using a special specification allows developers to keep all needed documentation in one place and update it in a timely manner. Any engineer can easily find the latest version in the repository, overview a product, ask questions, and produce awesome products. It is like a Guidance for designers.

Design Specification document example will observe:

  • Audience – Who you are designing for;
  • Objective – It could indicate how well the solution is expected to work or under what conditions it will work;
  • What it should look like (Size/colors/etc);
  • What level of reliability can be expected from a product;
  • Tools and time of completion.

It includes:

  • Description of the software;
  • Functionality;
  • Performance of the software in a production situation;
  • External interfaces or connection with other hardware or software;
  • Design constraints that the software will run in.

What is a design constraint?

A software design constraint refers to any limitation or restriction imposed on the design and implementation of a software system. These constraints may stem from factors like technical requirements, industry standards, hardware limitations, organizational policies, or external dependencies.

Design constraint examples can comprise a wide range of considerations. For instance, performance constraints may dictate the system’s response time, throughput, or resource usage. Compatibility constraints may require the software to interface with specific operating systems or databases. Security constraints may mandate certain encryption protocols, access controls, or data protection measures.

Other design constraints could include scalability requirements, language or platform limitations, regulatory compliance, budgetary constraints, or usability guidelines. Design constraints largely determine the design decisions, influencing the selection of technologies, architectural patterns, and implementation approaches.

To address design constraints, developers must balance them with functional requirements, user needs, and project objectives to craft a well-rounded system delivering value to the end users.

Concept of design constraint

The design specification obviously states constraints that will be imposed on particular design solutions. Design constraints definition determines them as the strict limitations that are important to meet in order to have an acceptable design. The designer’s role is to understand and work within the constraints of any product (size, material, weight, cost, interactions, speed, screen resolution, storage, functionality, etc).

A designer must work within multiple constraints and must constantly focus on them to make a product successful. Constraints such as restrictions on resources or techniques, may include what predefined hardware or software, particular algorithm, or a specific interface protocol must be used there. Design constraints restrict the range of acceptable material properties, defining the associated solution space and providing a screening mechanism that is workable for design specification.

Learn more about design constraint examples and types in more detail from this publication.

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Types of constraints

Constraints, as the name suggests, constrain the behavior, but they don’t designate it. Constraints can be used to model functional and non-functional requirements. A designer should categorize the type of constraints (e.g., hardware, software, procedure, algorithm), identify the specific ones for each category, and take them as system requirements.

Design constraints examples are:

  • Technology constraints (hardware vendors, software solutions, and protocols);
  • Operational constraints (performance and accessibility);
  • Financial constraints (budgets).

The relationship between design specification and constraint

Both concepts are intrinsic parts of the software design process, and both start with the essential design goal. 

Constraint primarily acts as a restriction to a particular design. However, it can also become a guideline for developers. For instance, such constraints as usability, style, and integration direct the team and can prompt creative solutions. With a clear understanding of the constraints, you may accurately define the specifications for the product and plan the further development process. By shaping design specifications, constraints help all involved teams to understand what is possible and impossible with available technology.

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Practical tips for effectively managing design specifications and constraints

Managing software design specifications and constraints includes careful planning, communication, and a systematic approach. Based on our practical experience, we established several recommendations:

  • Collect comprehensive requirements. Invest time in gathering precise and exhaustive requirements from stakeholders. This sets a solid foundation for managing constraints and ensures that design specifications accurately reflect the desired functionality.
  • Prioritize and validate requirements. Prioritize requirements based on their importance and impact on the software’s success. Validate requirements with stakeholders to ensure they align with their needs and expectations. 
  • Involve key stakeholders. Engage key stakeholders throughout the design process to gain their insights, feedback, and support. Regularly communicate with stakeholders to keep them informed about the design specifications and any potential constraints.
  • Keep design specifications relevant. Maintain comprehensive and up-to-date specifications. Use appropriate tools and techniques to document architectural diagrams, data models, user interface designs, and other relevant artifacts. This documentation serves as a reference and facilitates effective communication among team members.
  • Manage risks. Identify and assess potential risks associated with specifications and constraints. Develop contingency plans to mitigate the impact of risks that may arise during the development process.
  • Maintain continuous communication. Foster open communication among team members, stakeholders, and any external parties involved. Regularly update all relevant parties on the progress, challenges, and any modifications made to the design specifications or constraints.
  • Embrace agile principles. Embrace agile principles and methodologies that promote adaptive planning, collaboration, and flexibility. Agile practices such as frequent iterations, user feedback, and cross-functional team collaboration can help effectively manage design specifications and constraints.

Design constraint and specification FAQ

🔴 What is the difference between a constraint and the design criteria?

Constraints represent limitations or restrictions on the design, while software design criteria display the desired characteristics that the design should fulfill. Constraints define what should not be done, while design criteria establish what should be achieved. Both constraints and design criteria guide the software development process, ensuring that the resulting product matches the specified requirements and performs as intended.

What is a design constraint example?

A typical example of a software design constraint is performance limitations. Performance constraints can impose restrictions on the system’s speed, responsiveness, and resource usage.
For instance, a software system must respond to user actions within a specific time frame, namely, within 200 milliseconds. This constraint influences the design decisions related to algorithms, data structures, and system architecture.

🔴 What is a design specification example?

For instance, a software design specification for a task management application can cover aspects like architecture, user interface, database design, functionality, data flow, performance, security, testing, and deployment. Here is a detailed example of such a specification for system architecture:

– The application will follow a client-server architecture.
– The client-side will be implemented as a web-based interface using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
– The server-side will use a RESTful API built with Node.js and Express framework.
– The database management system will be MongoDB for data storage.

Coreteka design services

At Coreteka, we recognize the significance of appropriate design specifications and constraints in any software development project. We can help with design specification templates and have all resources to work out competent and exhaustive documentation for easy collaboration and superior outcomes. 

We present the following fundamental design services:

  • Discovery. We help you determine the basic functionality and shape the digital strategy for your product.
  • Product requirements. We involve UX Designers and business analysis specialists to set up efficient and valid product requirement formulation.
  • UX research. We conduct user testing to ensure optimal user flows and enable a solid product plan.
  • Prototyping. Our team will create a representative prototype to give you a clear perception of the product’s features.
  • A/B testing and support. We apply the most advanced testing methods to explore the product and get users’ feedback. We also provide comprehensive support for the solutions we create.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you address your software development challenges.

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Final thought

That is determined that the list of design specifications shows all the functional and aesthetic requirements of a product. Understanding and implementing constraints will aid in usability and help the users engage in a design with minimal error.

Appropriate Design Specification implementation from a technical and infrastructure perspective, a set of requirements and constraints guarantees that a development team creates software that meets the client’s needs.

Also, you can read about mobile app design trends for 2023 on our website.