From idea through concept to development and release, I will guide your vision and turn it into reality. This is done by talking through your ideas, prototyping your concepts and handing off or managing the project with an expanded team. Every project is different.

Our collaboration starts with you telling me what you want to make, or where you are in your project. I will give you a rough sketch of how I believe that to be possible, and if you agree, we proceed to prototyping. I do not pick up your existing code, destruction is part of creation and it is not a sunk cost. Depending on the project, a prototype may be done through paper, digital mockups or even limited reuse of existing code, and may include a development team.

Form follows function, and in digital media, function is user interaction. Once we have a prototype, I will suggest a series of key performance indicators and establish a relevant group of test subjects and evaluate on our prototype. You will receive a report on the results, with suggestions for changes to the design. I will repeat the process until you are satisfied.

Once the prototype performs as desired, we move to proper development. We form a team with the required skills. If you want, I may provide a detailed design document or continue on as project- or test manager. At this stage, you will have a complete concept ready for development, which minimises unforeseen changes to the design and makes it easier for the development team to realise your vision.

Agile prototyping

Prototyping is meant to be a quick test of an idea, a design, a concept or a full experience. By being agile, each step is as small as possible, creating tight feedback loops to constantly evaluate the direction and feasibility of the prototype.

Often, development is begun as soon as an idea is accepted by a steering committee or formed in the mind of a developer. Unfortunately, the bridge between business and development is at risk of being burnt, as the differing perspectives may not align, hindering communication as development and concept fly off in different directions. Furthermore, developers are often frustrated by changing requirements, which is a consequence of unclear feature descriptions from the business side. While any development team is perfectly capable of changing the design and work with prototypes during the early stages of development, frustration and technical debt usually cause a project to enter a grind, a slow pace or a complete standstill.

By focusing on proper prototyping, the business is allowed and encouraged to change their ideas as much as they want, and developers are given a much clearer direction for development, allowing solid technical foundations to be planned, formed and kept clean. It’s a focused investment in the early stages of development, which will define and shape the final product.

User experience

Users rarely behave as you expect of them. A button which obviously states “Buy” may not register for a user, and only through a holistic evaluation of your site may you discover cognitive traps or unbalanced ideas of design influencing functions. A button may be awkwardly placed, the design may be obscure, other parts of your site or product may distract or give your user a wrong idea of what they are supposed to do.

Making sure your user experience is aligned with your product requirements is essential, and using prototyping is paramount. However, as most digital media evolve and change even after the prototyping phase, continued evaluation is necessary. Here, focus group testing can be a good way to explore your options. A-B testing, where you tweak a single detail your design and randomly show your user one of two options, is a much more efficient way of evaluating a live project.

A-B testing is dependent on your technical foundation, requiring both analytics and differentiation in presentation, which are technical features in the core of a digital architecture. If you know your project will change or will have a large volume of users, it is prudent to include A-B testing in your initial requirements, as it is difficult to integrate in an established design. Focus groups is a good fall back if A-B testing is too expensive for your setup.

Project management

When starting a project, you need to uncover costs, external dependencies, stakeholders, risks and more. Again, prototyping is paramount to making these evaluations on a realistic foundation, avoiding guess work and oversight. By creating a prototype, you will know whether the prototype realistically achieves your goals, and stakeholders will reveal themselves and their opinions spontaneously or with little encouragement. The most precious feedback is in the early stages, and by showing how a feature or experience would function, you will get direct and unhindered critique from the people who know best.

As a tight feedbackloop is paramount to building solid and aligned features for your project, agile project management is the best way to ensure stakeholders are kept in the loop, and developers are allowed focused work. Basically, iterating in small steps and keeping constant evaluation of your direction is the key.

Depending on the size of your development team, these feedback loops can be adjusted to allow developer collaboration and business alignment in balance. Daily progress meetings may or may not include stakeholders, where smaller teams (1-3 developers) more easily can integrate small requests, while larger teams should be allowed to focus on collaboration during daily development. Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly review of features, evaluating business alignment, is the primary encompassing feedbackloop. Here, each feature of development is either accepted or rejected, forming the basis of iterative development. With larger teams and a more concrete foundation for development, these cycles can expand and allow teams to focus realisation of features rather than alignment with business.