On any given day, we could be working on a single development project, half a dozen designs, some API integrations or making something with ReactJS or all of them so it's important we have a flexible process that allows us to work in harmony with our clients.
We're an agile company and we embrace positive change whenever we find it. However, we tend to broadly follow some key steps in our projects because they help us get to the core of a problem quickly and deliver a solution - whether it's design or development or both.
Every project is different but you can't find a solution without first defining the problem. When you work with us, expect us to ask lots of questions - we're building a picture of not only the immediate problem but the reasons surrounding it. Often we'll use techniques like "5 Whys" and we'll examine your current site or customer feedback using user and job needs to highlight areas for improvement.
We design with content and whenever possible, use data to decide what's valuable and what's not. Visual design is such a subjective area that choices are sometimes made based on preference so we'll do whatever we can to avoid that. Using your content - (derived from step 1) means we can also begin creating or modifying your Umbraco CMS build very early in the process as we double up on design and development at this stage.
Even without a visible front to your website, there's nothing to stop us beginning the process of content creation once we know what it will be.
To provide a quick and high level overview of a project, we'll sketch on paper or use our tablets to draw rough layouts because they're quick, they're cheap and the cost of changing them is low. Here's why we believe in the importance of sketching.
We don't believe high fidelity visuals help anyone in the modern, multi-device world. Visualising what a complicated website looks like at one particular size is seldom a good use of time or budget. We believe in code and prototypes and building a Minimum Viable Product to demonstrate how something will work - not just how it will look.
Because a modern website needs to be accessible in an almost countless number of screensizes, devices and views, our aim is to create a library of components and form a living styleguide / pattern library with rules and details of how the component parts of your site fit together. Think of Lego pieces with a guide to how they fit together.
Here are some good examples of how a styleguide or pattern library can help you:
Guidelines and flexible components help us create an efficient foundation on which to create your site way more than a set of rigid visuals ever will.
Depending on the scope of the project, we would have begun developing the initial structure of the Umbraco CMS alongside the content design in the content design stage above and at this stage, we'd be working to integrate the prototype and components we've built into Umbraco so that they show real content and information rather than any filler.
As most projects have access to the CMS from the content design stage, this is a great part of the project where it all comes together quickly and everyone can see a fuller product and test it using real content in real situations.
A project doesn't end the minute it's launched.
Far from it, there's much to do once people are using it - we monitor analytics, perform user testing and create experiments to deliver improvements on an ongoing basis. Iteration and constant improvement should always be the goal. Nothing is perfect, especially first time around and by repeating the process and continuing to let data inform our decisions and not opinions or guess work we can deliver results.
It's something we've proved time and again to the point where we set up our own company - Cutting Edge Knives [Read the case study] - to prove the process works.