Product Design & Development

It’s got to look good. That’s a given. And yet, we all know looking good is only skin deep. If it looks good but somehow, still feels ‘wrong’ then it won’t engage your users or encourage them to come back.  

The services below are methods that we’ve honed over many years to help us explore, discover and collaborate with our clients throughout the process - effectively crafting each project into unique and engaging digital experiences.

Services include:User Experience (UX), User Interface (UI) design, Website, extranet design and build, Enterprise-class CMS development, CRM, ecommerce etc. implementation & integration, Usability testing & focus group facilitation

Wireframes & prototyping

Each step in our process helps us to focus and hone in more closely on a user’s experience. Wireframes and prototypes enable us to look closely at the elements that a user will see on the screen itself: content, navigation, calls to action, interactive features etc.
 
We use this process to identify content and feature priorities: 

  • What does a visitor need to see first? 
  • What do we know about this user?
  • If we know they’re an existing customer and they’re on a location aware mobile device, what content or feature would they find most useful?

Wireframes and prototypes are the documents that we output from this process, they’re essentially sketches that demonstrate the content, features and navigation a page will have.

They also become the blueprint for designers, developers, content writers, animators and SEO teams to all have a say and understand what a specific page needs to do and what’s needed to turn it into a reality.

UX Design and Research

We take a user-centric approach to all projects. UX research - in the form of card sorting, field studies, usability testing, personas, interviews and journey mapping give is the insights we need to solve problems. 

By combining selected wireframes, prototypes, draft content, and mood-boards, we develop a small set of page mock ups to further refine the project’s persona, look and feel. 
User Testing

How do you know if a website will work properly - or indeed if its already built - whether users are finding the right content or functionality that they are looking for? What ‘pain points’ or ‘blockers’ do they face?

User testing enables us to watch various users interact with a prototype or live website (often taking specific user journeys or just asking them to explore). We can record their screen activity, watch where they look on screen first, listen to their comments, feedback and first impressions. Testing can be as thorough and in depth as time and budget allow - but it’s rare that user testing doesn’t reveal highly insightful and often essential feedback to the planning process of a website, often saving significant development or design costs further down the line.

Benefits

  • Avoids assumptions from in house teams who already understand the proposition and functionality
  • Ensures we know how users will actually use a website
  • Helps us to identify pain points and blockers early on in a website’s planning stages
  • Can be performed on existing websites to help identify where a website can be optimised and improved

User Journeys

Whilst it’s important to plan a website architecture to understand what content and functionality is required - it’s not until you put a specific user’s hat on and try and walk around a website that you truly start to understand where content or functionality is easy to find, use or interact with.

We use the User Journey process to identify critical tasks that particular users will need to make. 

Benefits

  • Rapid process that saves time and budget
  • Can be performed on existing as well as new projects
  • Can be enormously effective in identifying why a website isn’t performing as hoped
  • Often many small wins can be identified which can make significant improvements to user’s experiences
  • Information Architecture (IA)

Following our client discovery and research processes, we begin our IA workshops, where our aim is to prioritise key messaging, content hierarchy, toolsets, user segmentation, features, business functions etc. - essentially building a structure which is easily navigable and intuitive.

Sitemaps and user flows are generally the first output from these sessions and become the foundation for the next steps in the process such as wireframing and prototyping. Workshops will often involve work on whiteboards, stickies, sketching, much discussion and when appropriate card sorting.

Content writing for the web

Writing for the web requires a number of additional skills above and beyond that of a traditional content writer. Web copywriters need to consider the purpose of each page: how will it be found on and off site? What calls to action do each visitor group expect or need? How succinct can this be made to ensure even if a paragraph is skim read that enough information is retained to encourage further engagement? 

What content links are required to ensure a user’s journey isn’t cut short or results in a dead end? What supporting interactive or visual content is required to help explain or demonstrate a proposition or service? Video? Charts? Imagery? Animations? Customer Testimonials?

Is the content optimised using agreed keywords and phrases that will ensure the website is easy to find whilst avoiding keyword stuffing or unintelligible sentences?

Benefits 

  • Reduces a key risk point in a project’s life cycle
  • Written with an understanding of how users interact with content & what they need
  • Search engine optimised

Design Systems and Pattern Libraries

Although many of our clients already have a digital team, they still benefit from our external point of view and often don’t possess the design expertise needed in-house for full website redesigns. Also, designing a new website is a huge resource drain for teams that are already busy.

This is where design systems and pattern libraries are invaluable. We’re able to run through the design process then hand over code (HTML, CSS and Javascript), that has been stress tested and conforms to our high standard. The in-house digital team are then able to use this code and integrate within their already existing CMS infrastructure.

Data Visualisation

For complex reports or research findings nothing quite beats a chart in order to get the information across. But what information is important? What other information needs displaying to make it meaningful? Should we give the user total control to create their own visualisations or should we give them an editorial slant?

Data visualisation is much more than turning a spreadsheet into a chart. Through our discovery process we treat data as a narrative, just waiting to be read.

Open Source Development

The Open Source Community works together to create software that is freely available to anyone who wants to use it. Nearly all the websites we build use open source Content Management Systems, which means that whilst you are given a website with a powerful, flexible CMS, you don’t pay for any software licensing costs, instead you pay for our expert time to configure and build the website to your exact specification. The added advantage is that if you’re not using proprietary code the less liable you are to being locked into any one agency who’s code you rely on.*

*Myth Buster - Whilst some agencies will try to tell you that developing in an open source CMS will enable your project to be immediately portable or easy for a third party to pick up and leave off from a previous developer, the truth is a little less clear cut. The very nature of open source software is that it is exceptionally flexible and is designed to be customised around your and the developers own specific needs. It’s extremely rare to find a website that is built using an out of the box install of an open source CMS system that hasn’t been bent out of shape to accommodate specific needs and functionality. In reality, it can be a tricky process to find a developer who would be prepared to take on someone else's open source CMS and carry on developing on it.

Benefits

  • Cost effective, no initial or ongoing licence fees
  • Very flexible and customisable
  • Larger development community provides greater security and future development

Typo3 Development

Although we develop our websites using other CMS platforms such as Drupal, we’ve become well known for our Typo3 CMS expertise. The core TYPO3 CMS provides the majority of the functionality you require - our enhanced framework combines open source extensions with some of our own refined toolsets, creating a compelling CMS platform.

Third party integrations and Ecommerce

Having an in-house development team means that if you already have a service running such as Pardot, Salesforce, SAP, Shopify (etc) the chances are that we’ve already been able to integrate them before.

Multilingual / Global audience

Many of our clients are international, multilingual organisations, with audiences who expect content and services to be provided in their own language. We have a wealth of experience building and supporting multilingual websites and have developed a number of tools and processes to work with translation agencies as well as internal translation teams.

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