Whenever people ask me what our design process is like at Soft Pauer I always think to myself I need to write a post about it. So, I thought I’d finally put it onto our site. It’s worth mentioning that we don’t follow this religiously. We’re flexible and we adjust to meeting user or customer needs and for optimised delivery. We pride ourselves on Consistency. We don’t break the mould, but we pride ourselves on making it really easy for the end user, and they are pivotal to our approach..
In the Soft Pauer design team we have visual designers, 3d, user experience designers and front end developers. Our designers can code or are learning to code. We call ourselves the Design hub because it’s important to belong to a group with shared skills and experiences. This helps people grow their skill sets, support each other and build a strong culture with shared standards.
We spread ourselves out
We don’t sit ourselves in a corner, we sit within development teams so Designers are at the heart of the client’s product teams alongside developers and project managers, A company director runs their day-to-day workload. Designers are integral in discussions about the product and feedback from users.
We recycle our paper and use it for Mockups and wireframes. The Developers then build what we’ve sketched in code, either by themselves or with a front-end developer. We prototype in Sketch, or Abode XD, We demo paper prototypes as well as HTML.
We don’t stop improving our prototypes
We don’t like the traditional process of creating a prototype and then booting it over the wall and going home for the evening, we like to sit down and constantly evolve our prototypes and front end designs, We don’t want a culture of designs ever being done or handed off to developers.
One of the problems with high quality prototypes on paper is stakeholders can start the design process early with a comments “Move this up a bit”, or “tweak that colour”. The stakeholder is commenting on the picture of the protype rather than the Product itself. We prefer to send round a URL and ask people how it works for them. If the shade of grey affects usability, that will be apparent pretty quickly, just as it would be to final users.
We think on our feet
If anyone is familiar with a traditional agency background:we’re not, we are a Digital services business, we don’t sign stuff off in the same way an agency might do with a Creative Director. We’re optimised for Digital services, the client and the user are our customers, internal signs off cause bottlenecks and stop us being quick and flexible, we often share our internal docs with clients, Collaboration is key. Quality is paramount and it’s my job to make sure design work is always high, but I ensure I’m at the heart of the process and the initial briefing and daily catch ups are integral in keeping the quality high.
The main advantages of being truly flexible is that you can fix things quickly if they are wrong.
User experience is the responsibility of everyone in the team
We don’t hire a UX Team. Every designer and Developer just gets UX and they are a digital natives, using a title to describe your UX prowess is often a sign of self importance and we like our designers to be part of the team, ego’s are left at the door. A traditional UX specialists isn’t fully in control of the user experience as the Developers play an integral part in usability.
Get Copy upfront, it’s just as important as design
Ironically this is my last point, but our Designers and Developers work closely with Copywriters right at the start of the project, this is integral in how we design and develop services, if copy is compromised later on then the user loses a massive aspect of their experience with the product, copy that is cramped or needs scrolling to is often a sign that it’s an afterthought. We create copy at the start so design and copy are refined to work together.
Our process works for us. If that ever changes, we’ll change it.