Seven years of building websites for clients showed us a clear pattern: The projects that had a clear plan up-front came out better. Every time. The others suffered varying degrees of failure. We learned that defining the goals and purpose of the project, not just the scope, was the most important first step toward success.
Our technical process for building websites is, frankly, irrelevant. What is more important is how we interact and integrate with your business:
1. Understand Your Business
First things first, we need to understand what makes your business tick. This process starts with our Discovery Survey, a 7 page document covering a wide range of big-picture topics about your business. Next we will schedule a Discovery Meeting, ranging from 1 hour to a full-day retreat, during which we will probe deeper and ensure we have a working understanding of all of the key mechanisms that power your business.
2. Identify Opportunity
With this understanding, we will then collaborate to identify opportunities for improvement. Often we come up with solutions that have nothing to do with websites, or even web-based tools. This is just an added bonus! Usually we identify multiple opportunities, prioritize them, and tackle them one at a time.
First we sketch out the big picture strategy. We dream big. Every feature, best-case, “fully loaded” option we can think of. This is the “wouldn’t it be great if” stage.
4. Define Minimum Viable Implementation
From the “fully loaded” version detailed above, we will pare down to a Minimum Viable Implementation (MVI), separating out the features that are absolutely necessary to achieve the minimum definition of success. Why aim for only “minimum success”? To keep the cost of initial development low and reduce the risk of investing time, energy, and money in features that don’t produce results. The end result at this stage is a detailed blueprint of input, output, and architecture for the exact system we will build & launch as Version 1.
5. Build & Launch
This is the part where the keys start clicking, the coffee flows freely, and we knock out elegant lines of code, inspiring designs, pulling it altogether into a functioning product – but that’s not where our job ends!
We believe in iterative development – that is, launching with the absolute minimum requirements, then reacting to real user feedback and data to create the most effective product.
At this point, we can start tackling the next opportunity while this product moves on into the Iterative Development Loop
The Iterative Development Loop
6. Collect & User Feedback & Data
Starting immediately after launch we collect user data and feedback to evaluate whether our assumptions were correct and what we build is effective. As soon as we have a large enough sample size, we start improving.
7. Refine & Optimize
When there is strong data that supports making a change or addition, we develop it as fast as possible – again taking a “minimum viable” approach – then launch it.
This ongoing process of making small improvements driven by real work feedback is often less expensive and faster than traditional development approaches.
Ultimately there are two key differentiators here:
- Before anything else, we must understand your business.
- An ongoing relationship of iterative development is crucial to long-term success.