We intentionally do not call it a process as we believe adaptability is core to successful projects. We design for a wide breadth of project types, each with their own goals, but our approach always remain the same. We focus on making sure that whatever the case, we create satisfying, efficient, effective, and desirable (SEED) designs. These are all measurable and should be tested because without a way to track if we are actually improving things, how will we know for sure we are doing our job? Here is how we define these terms:
satisfying: self-reported; what users think rather than actual results
efficient: the ability to accomplish tasks quickly
effective: a high rate of success and learnability
desirable: meets self-reported needs and wants of users; some of these may be brand and content focused
Our methodology is structured to ensure that any project will be successful, regardless of platform, target audience, or industry. Essentially, we model our practice on the scientific method, simplifying to only three broad stages: Research, Design, and Test, so our services mirror these three stages as well. These are utilized at both a high and low level, meaning for traditional architecture, design and implementation phases, we still continue to research, design and test, but the execution of these methods are very different given the outputs.
The purpose of the first stage is to establish goals and requirements, capturing who, what, where, why and when. This may include in-depth ethnographic research, or if everything is already defined clearly, we conduct a couple sessions to review and clarify everything with the team. No matter how well something is defined, interpretation always occurs, so it is critical that all assumptions are laid out and verified.
Whether we create wireframes, design comps, or prototypes, we are constantly designing solutions for the problems we are given. It is critical that the problem has been defined correctly for this stage to be efficient, effective and as quick as possible. This is the stage where we leverage our experience of design patterns the most, but each project is unique so we always verify our designs.
A project is never over because time never stops. The environment in which we define a project often evolves while we design and develop. Once developed and launched, the market and technology may change the opportunities and goals. Verifying a project varies at each stage, based on scale and scope. Often the early stages are measured by focus groups or surveys while the later may be live site data or one- on-one user testing of a prototype. The key is to never assume you have the right answer, no matter how much experience and confidence you have. We take the time to do even simple verification and reduce risk immensely.