As a creative agency, it can sometimes be hard to admit just how important structure and process are to the job that we do. And in the same way, clients who work with us are often surprised at just how boring we can be.
But the truth is that creative work doesn’t come from sitting around waiting for divine inspiration. Even the greatest artists are more about hard work and craft than the usual combination of genius and madness favoured by Hollywood. In just the same way, at Kooba we are firm believers in building a clear structure and process within which our wonderfully talented design team can do their thing.
There are many, many reasons to follow a clear process when delivering an online project. They include, but are most certainly not limited to the following:
- It helps to get things right. Process means taking the time to build from first principles, understand requirements, and gradually flesh out the project as we learn and iterate. In other words, we start with objectives, move to information architecture and wireframes, and only then consider visual look and feel - with animations, transitions and so on last to be added. By following a process in this way everything is tied to those objectives, so the site delivers in the way the client wants it to.
- It stops things going backwards. If there’s one thing that kills any workflow, it is things going backwards: “against the flow”. When this happens we lose money, time, patience and in extreme circumstances the will to live. But without process, if we dive into a project randomly without clearing our hurdles in sequence, we will almost inevitably find ourselves going backwards. By attempting to save time and money we end up spending more of both.
- It empowers the creative side of the business. Despite what you might think, designers don’t typically enjoy being let off the leash to run wild. Instead, they want tight, detailed briefs that give them something specific to work with. That comes from a clear process, which also has the benefit of shielding creative talent from aspects of the job they don’t need to worry about.
- The client knows where they stand. A process enables us to work through clear stages, stages that can be mapped out at the beginning of the job and given dates for delivery. This in turn means the client knows how the project will progress, and what is expected of them at each turn - and be ready to play their part in ensuring everything runs smoothly.
The Kooba Process
For all the reasons listed above and more, processes are good. At Kooba, we are firm believers in the power of process, which is why we keep them central to everything we do. That said, we also believe in flexibility. Processes are not guns to be held to a client’s head. With that in mind we are always willing to meet the unique needs of any client - and allow them to change their minds from time to time!
In its simplest form, and abbreviated for the sake of our readers, our process looks something like this:
Good projects start with ‘why?’ As we noted above, if we don’t get a good answer to that question first it is awfully easy to build the wrong thing entirely. Every Kooba project starts with stakeholder interviews, user interviews where possible, a project workshop, and a detailed discussion around possible approaches to meeting agreed objectives. As a result, we start in the right direction and waste no effort down the line.
Before the design process begins, we have to take time to model user journeys and common tasks that we expect our work to support. Usually these flow from the objectives we have agreed above, and when they are understood we are able to create a site map. That site map will in turn dictate what needs to be shown within each template and how site navigation will be structured.
Wireframes / UX
Only now do we build templates for key pages across the site. A template is a structure of page elements: what they are, and how they will be arranged on various devices. We will have worked closely with the customer to understand how many we need to complete the project, and now, with the knowledge gained from the two steps above, we create wireframes of these templates for sign off. All our templates are of course built from scratch.
Again, as with every step of our process, the core aim is to ensure we are maintaining forward momentum whilst delivering thoughtful and appropriate responses to the initial brief.
The fun begins! When wireframes are signed off, we move to visual design - always based on our understanding of audiences, business objectives and existing brand elements. Although we build look and feel on the steps above, at Kooba we believe in avoiding nasty surprises. We discuss with clients what the final result will look like from the initial workshop onwards. Our collaborative approach means that in most cases one concept is enough.
Development / CMS
All our development is of course customised to the individual client. Our team of frontend and backend developers ensure that what is designed is executed in beautiful, responsive pages that end users love.
Of course, we deliver all our sites within a CMS that ensure the client can update and extend the site themselves without compromising the structure and visual quality. We want to provide a solution that delivers for the long-term, not just a few months.
Last but certainly not least. Remember those business objectives we discussed above? We now return post-launch to walk through the results - and discuss next steps. Digital projects are never truly finished: just as with any other aspect of the business a process of continual optimisation and improvement now starts - hopefully with Kooba along for the ride!