Picture this: your team is energized because the design that you made was approved by the client. Development is done, and the app is ready to deploy. There are bottles of champagne here and there, and you start thinking about which car you are going to buy with your raise.
Everything is fine until you start receiving negative comments from the users. The issues escalate so much that the client lost its long-awaited Fortune 500 listing, and you lost your job (I guess that Tesla Model Y can wait.)
It is not that the design was unappealing, or you did not manage your team well. The project lacked a research phase; it needed constant communication with the client, and more importantly, testing by its final users.
This is a hypothetical story. But it can happen to you. (although, if your company managed to get a pseudo-Fortune 500 client, props to you!)
So, now it is when our process comes in. We have followed a lean methodology to manage design projects for a long time now, and we are ready to share it with you!
The importance of a process
Designing is not an A -> B road. It is not biased, and what the final users say matter A LOT.
We see design as a series of iterations where we can validate our strategies every sprint. Having the user in mind during the project is crucial to create a successful product.
We believe in incremental value, that is, delivering in small batches that enhance the outcome of a product during every iteration.
These are the benefits we have found with this Lean:
- Deliver value regularly to check how your project is going and make all stakeholders happy. The feedback that you receive from clients and users alike will guide your design.
- You have control over the priorities and requirements. This makes sure that smart investments are being made to increase ROI (without forgetting overall quality.)
- Have power over how money is spent. This gives you a flexible mindset, in case you need to reallocate resources during the project.
Our process is comprised of these stages:
Research and analysis
Using different resources to conduct a study and analysis of the interests of the client and its users is the first step. This allows us to understand their criteria, decision-making, and behavior.
This stage is essential to design a useful and practical product, avoiding the example at the beginning of the article.
Having a real representation of a user is the main benefit of this stage. At times, the users that a client recommends may not be the best considering the project’s context. Hence, it is better to have this research sorted out to design with precision.
Once we have all the essential takeaways and initial conclusions, it is time to conceptualize and design a solution.
Conceptualization and design
This stage begins with a moodboard. This visual tool is excellent for communicating concepts and visual ideas that define the product’s overall look and feel.
C&D is a relatively quick stage, but a lot of things are calculated during this part. The outputs of this step are:
- The moodboard that we already talked about
- A wireframe of the product. This allows the client and ourselves to visualize the site’s structure.
- The final design
All of them are crucial; none of them are optional. These deliverables guide us through the project (especially the final design.) Keep this in mind when you are working with clients that are more of the visual style.
Once we have our final design ready, the Markup and Dev teams can start building the site following all the insights we got and the designs we have done in the past few stages.
Development and Implementation
During this process, the design does not have as much agency as with the other stages. The markup and dev teams do a great job coding our concepts.
The design team makes a special appearance to present alternatives if a screen is not achievable or to do internal testing, even before the Revision stage.
Here is where two stages collide. On each iteration of the product, we like to check where we are standing with bugs.
Revision and launch
Before we launch new features, we tend to do a series of tests to recognize bugs and squash them ASAP. This is done by the design and QA teams.
Being this diligent helps us ensure the quality of the product during every stage of development, and also reduce costs for the client. Instead of paying for a debugging session, we take care of that and smooth any rough edges that the product may have.
Lastly, once we have successfully taken care of those pesky bugs, we proceed to launch the product, or as we call it: send it to production.
How can I make the switch?
Deciding to switch methodologies is the beginning. However, the process in itself is not that fast if you do not have the right guidance.
Either your clients will not understand the process, or your team may feel frightened to adopt it. Sure, encouraging is useful, being a supporting leader is essential here. Nevertheless, you need some resources to back you. Check out these books on how to run sprints and lean processes:
Do you have any other books you would like to suggest? Leave it down in the comments!
Working with a sprint mindset and delivering excellent products in less time is what has made us happier after this shift. We can assure you that working with this methodology will be the right decision for your business.