Doing things the right way is much more rewarding

We do the right thing

We provide growth oriented services that match needs of idea stage startups and help to evolve already existing businesses. While reflecting principles of Human-centered Design, Design Thinking, Lean Startup and Customer Development we marked out our services as the following stages:

Define & UX Design

Needs Assessment Stage

Our design and research methods help our clients to shape product vision, uncover opportunities and make well-grounded decisions. We define product strategy and make sure we’re ready to take the step from idea to development.

Timeline: 2-6 weeks

Business objectives

01Business Objectives Discovery

Business objectives discovery is an essential step to understand what business stakeholders would actually like to achieve online. This involves a mix of inspiration and elicitation of information through questionnaires, interviews and workshops.

Deliverables:

  • Project Scope
  • UX Project time plan

02Product Vision and Business Model Hypothesis

Successful products stand on a strong vision. There are various types of research providing diverse data that helps us to shape project concept, clear up a picture of users needs and goals, as well as implementation strategy. We formulate business model hypothesis by means of 3 questions: what: problem; who: customer; and how: product/market.

Deliverables:

  • Brief market overview (market conditions)
  • Competitors audit
  • Product business requirements
  • Business model
  • Design directions
  • Basic technical requirements

03Information Architecture

IA makes it easy to visualize the basic structure and navigation. All product vision data is collected, organized and used as a groundwork for generating personas, user cases, storyboards, scenarios of interaction with the product as a Customer Journey Map and requirements-related documents.

Deliverables:

  • Flow Chart
  • Personas
  • User Scenarios
  • Preliminary Сustomer Journey Map
  • Functional Structure (Mindmap)
  • Technical Requirements for a product

04Specification the first version of the product

To determine the Minimum Viable Product we apply a matrix of needs filled with user stories. User stories capture the "who", "what" and "why" requirements in a simple way. To prioritize them and minimize waste we rely on the principles of Design Thinking, Lean Startup and business processes of the client.

Deliverables:

  • Matrix of needs
  • Final mind map

05Sketching. Rapid Prototype

This is one of the fastest methods of usability testing in the user-centered design process that can provide a great deal of useful feedback. Sketches help to get rapid demonstrative results which are compared with set of goals and tasks. They show the steps users need to go through, the decisions they make and what the outcomes will be. Sketches are photographed and collected into clickable prototype to get agreed and approved by client and development team.

Deliverables:

  • User Flow based on sketches
  • Rapid prototype
Wireframing prototyping

06Wireframing & Prototyping

Wireframes are carefully crafted blueprint, which is true-to-size and incorporates the highest level of details of final product flow. Interactive prototype is a simulation of the navigation and features, derived from wireframes. It is built to refine design decisions and validate the product before development.

Deliverables:

  • High-fidelity wireframes
  • Final user flow
  • Interactive prototype

07Usability testing

It is one-to-one interview research where user is asked to perform a series of tasks in a prototype or a product. Usability testing allows to validate and collect feedback about flows, design and features.

Deliverables:

  • Survey data
  • List of suggestions for possible changes
  • Updated prototype

08Focus Group Survey

A group of people are proposed to use the prototype and discuss a specific topic or question. This method lets us learn about users' feelings, opinions and various aspects of how well product solves the problem. We use the results to course-correct initial hypothesis, uncover user insights and reveal points of growth.

Deliverables:

  • Survey data
  • List of suggestions for possible changes
  • Updated prototype

Build & Test

MVP Development Stage

We design and develop fully functional product based on defined strategy. MVP aims to check hypothesis and idea efficiency, search points of growth and reduce risks related to budget and time.

Timeline: 1-7 months

01Identity

Visual identity helps the product to express and convey values, unique features and proposals, so it becomes a bottom line of product interaction with market. Depending on product needs visual identification can be represented through the following basic scope:

Deliverables:

  • Logo
  • App icon
  • Color scheme
  • Typography
  • Graphic patterns, backgrounds
  • Illustrations
  • Design directions
  • Main leading principles and anti-principles
  • Guide and documentation for client and users

02Visual Design

Graphic interface is a visual language of a product. Interface impacts on people’s emotions and impressions while they interact with it. High-end design derives from product idea and explicitly uncovers it for users. Interrelation between technological capabilities and design solutions is crucial. While designing we pick methods of visual communication, consider applicable technology and proceed with building friendly and comfortable user experience.

Deliverables:

  • Moodboard
  • Visual Key Mockups
  • Typography System
  • Color Scheme
  • Screens Mockups
  • Screens Specification
  • Assets
  • Layouts

03Interaction Design. Animation

Interaction Design defines the product structure revolving around user behavior. Everything from a button to a link should create meaningful relationships between people and the products. Animation should not only be functional but also help to create delightful and memorable user experience. So we are aimed to build an interaction system and user environment that feel friendly, learnable and useful.

Deliverables:

  • UI behavior demo files
  • Interaction demo files
  • Final Interactive Prototype

04Development Team

We believe that only dedicating all working time to one project provides really high quality of the product. This is why we assign each team member to one project. Each team has a team lead — the most skillful and experienced specialist. In every project each technology has its own executor. We don’t have "one-man-bands" that create design in the morning and write code in the evening. We prefer highly specialized people that are masters in their area. Each team for every project is different, but it always contains Project Manager and QA. Clients are not charged for these two positions, because this is how we ensure delivering of predictable high quality results.

05Methodology

Our development process is iterative so all works are performed with the continuous analysis of results and adjustment of previous sprints. Project development goes through Plan-Protype-Test-Adjust iterative cycle. Most of the time we rely on Agile (Scrum) methodology for T&M contracts. In case of fixed-price project we apply Waterfall with Agile elements. The latter one contains such elements of Agile development as: planning and implementing work by sprints, daily team meetings, demos and retrospective as well as scheduling builds delivery and relevant reports. What comes from Waterfall is that we estimate and fix budget step by step after completion of each stage including issues that team and client decided to change during this stage.

06Web development

We constantly monitor technical progress in development area and strive to apply up-to-date solutions. After trying out a number of web languages, we came up with Ruby as our main preference for server-side and API development. It has great security feature, it is scalable and products written in Ruby are stable and easy to maintain. Besides Ruby on Rails we use simpler solutions like Padrino or Sinatra if necessary. In cases project requires a tighter client-server interaction we resort to Meteor.js framework and React.js, which has Node.js in its core.

Web client-side (code that is run in web browsers):

  • HTML 5: we prefer either Slim or Jade as HTML wrappers, Foundation framework is used for fast prototyping and markups.
  • CSS 3: usually powered by Sass.
  • Javascript: we tend to use Node.js, Coffeescript, React.js, Underscore and JQuery, Meteor.js

07Mobile Development

We only build native mobile applications with no third-party compromise. One of the benefits of going native is an ability of tools to adapt a product to the latest Google and Apple updates instantly. We design iOS applications based on iOS Human Interface Guidelines and consider terms required to pass App Store review. For iOS apps we use Xcode, Swift, and Objective-C. Android applications are built in Java and follow Material Design guidelines, looking properly on a wide range of devices.

08Databases

For saving and storing data correctly we usually use PostgreSQL. In recent years a movement called NoSQL has gained popularity and we support this tendency. If there are projects with Meteor.js usage or quite complicated relational data structure, then we use MongoDB as the leading NoSQL technology. Redis is another great solution for storing transient, high quantity read/write data such as activity feeds, tags, background jobs, sessions, tokens and counters.

09Version control. Source code storage. GIT

We constantly use Git versions control system to organize our development processes properly. We keep backups of all versions’ source code and can easily roll back to any previously deployed version in case of emergency. For repository management (code reviews, issue tracking, wikis) we use our own GitLab server. We do not remove the source code of any completed projects from our servers, so client can request and get the files anytime.

10Intellectual property

All software and design materials performed during development are intellectual property of a client. Since the software is delivered in iterations — it becomes effective intellectual property upon every completed payment.

11Quality Assurance

Testing is a process, not a single activity. Our QAs begin their work at Strategy stage. They aim to verify business and technical requirements in the context of ensuring that future product will meet expected high level standards and guidelines. To make sure that the end result meets business and user requirements we find it important to have a good test coverage. It means that the testing has been done to cover the various areas like functionality of the product, product’s OS, hardware and different types of browsers compatibility, performance testing of the product and load testing to make sure that the system is reliable.

12Maintenance and Warranty

During our work at a project we provide a number of supporting services at no cost to client. Among them are DevOps Services, consulting regarding servers selection, deployment and applications submit to App Store or GooglePlay. After the project is completed, we strive to continue communicating with client, keep an eye on a product and suggest new OS releases updates and design adjustments. We also provide six months free warranty for all defects found in the app after its final release. Defect is determined as a feature that either doesn't work at all or works differently from how it's supposed to, based on approved definitions from functional requirements specification documents.

Evolve

Improvement of existing product

We discover new opportunities for growth and elevate businesses by helping clients understand users and as a result expand a customer base.

We work with end-users in terms of quantity and intensity of interactions by analyzing real feedbacks and insights. Our practices are based on Customer Development and Lean Startup principles. By applying to Customer Development we ask questions "what to do and why", while Lean Startup instructs us "how to do it". These processes aimed to reduce expenses where they do not have a positive impact on target audience. After receiving the first real data, we envisage two scenarios of further work with current version of the product:

01Feature enhancements and enrichment of users experience

We gather all the info for an exact period of using the product and check if the product users is the audience we were oriented at. To make sure everything works as we planned we need to answer these questions: What do users need now? How to make the product better to attract new users and continue solving problems of the current ones? We recommend to improve the product gradually, by small portions. First of all, it is a good informational reason to remind users about the product, next it reduces the risks of wasting time and budget, and most importantly, it helps to enrich user experience.

02Product concept review (partial or pivot)

Startups that create innovative projects and new markets constantly need to change the direction of the work to find the right way. If something goes wrong after the completion of the next iteration and product release, the company makes a pivot — a sharp turn and begins moving in a new direction, which sometimes even means complete restart of the project. It is a fairly common situation when MVP, which aims to check hypotheses, does not achieve desired results on the first run. In such cases, there comes a need to revise assumptions or ways of solving user problems. We comply feedbacks, metrics and other info we got and start defining the problem and ways of solving it.

Project management

Improvement of existing product

Project managers have one of the key roles in our company. They are the people who are aware of every single detail of a project coming from both sides: client and team. Managers connect all project activities and processes together — make communication and aim to make it error-free. Every day PM takes responsibility for keeping in mind high-level goals of a project, making decisions, meeting schedule, delegating tasks, spreading good vibes and being consistent. PM allows clients and team members to focus on their own activities like coding, designing, testing or working on business ideas. Daily communication with the customer occurs via Skype, Slack and Basecamp. We believe that all project activities should be thoroughly controlled and validated, so Basecamp is one of our favorite tools for keeping all project materials and discussions in one place.

We set up weekly meetings to keep all team members informed about business goals relevancy, project development progress, achievements, possible risks and opportunities. The main thing what these meetings are exactly set up for — to understand we are building the right product.

We are constantly tracking time spent on each task and collect it carefully. In the end of every week all this information is sent to a client as a weekly report.

In the end of each sprint we provide demo to show all work we performed during this period to keep the client on track. Demo is accompanied by sprint report. Sprint report demonstrates project progress status since it contains a list of tasks marked as implemented, not finished or partly implemented. We also discuss the difficulties the team faced and how they were solved and plan scope of work for the next sprint.