Phase 2 is a company that prides itself on creating great, usable software for our clients. Because we’ve been in business for nearly 20 years, we do it faster and more efficiently than any other development company. I started as an intern with Phase 2 seven years ago and am now the Creative Director. Although I really enjoy my new role it comes with its challenges. From these challenges I have adopted some processes that help keep myself and Phase 2 efficient.
Get to Work
Research and understanding your client's needs are important, but at some point you need to dive in and start wireframing. After you have read the discovery notes and have been to enough meetings, it's time to start putting something on paper. Provide visual ideas for your team and start discussing what works and what doesn’t. This is one of the most important steps in getting usable software out the door.
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original." Sir Ken Robinson
Work with Your Team, Not Against
Work with your developers, project managers, product owners, and clients, not against them. I hear the word 'no' a lot from our developers but that's okay because we are working together to make the UI elements the best they can be. If something is going to be too time consuming the developers let me know. We talk it out and find a middle ground. I don't get mad or annoyed that the developer doesn't want to waste 100 hours making some flashy UI element I saw on Dribble earlier that day. Is the UI element something that is really going to make the user experience easier, or just something that looks nice? At the same time, you also need to know when to fight back. When you work with your developers most things can be both functional and attractive.
“Design isn’t crafting a beautiful textured button with breathtaking animation. It’s figuring out if there’s a way to get rid of the button altogether.” Edward Tufte
Create Design Culture
I am the person in the office who is always trying to get others involved in what I am doing. I want everyone to watch the movie I just watched, play soccer for the first time on the company team, and come to the skatepark with me, even if they can't skateboard. I may be a little overbearing, but it has come in handy at Phase 2. I do my best to try and teach the developers what I am looking at when it comes to design on a project. As a designer, you cannot simply hand over a static mockup to a developer and expect them to understand all of the thought that went into it. I have learned in order for us to work as efficiently as possible, I need to take the time and discuss the rationale behind the mockups with the developer. In doing this, not only are we both on the same page and less likely to make mistakes, but I am able to show the developers what my thought process is which will hopefully help them develop an understanding and appreciation.
“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.” Robert L. Peters
Incorporating these practices into your work projects will make you and your company better. To learn more about our software development process at Phase 2, visit our website.