Category Archives: Mobile Web

Waterfall, Agile and Wagile

In the past two years here at Factotum we have started to use a leaner design and implementation process as part of an integrated strategic design and innovation methodology that is referred to as WAgile.

In the past there was a focus on phased approaches to design and implementation called Waterfall, where the phases of research, framing, insights, design and implementation were completed in sequence – this was typified in engineering, product design and software development.

Then Agile came along and the emphasis shifted to implementation through sprints and a series of ‘drops’ as the software or app  scaled from a minimal viable product (MVP). This works well for software products or new app development but it sometimes fails to include a research and insights process that identifies and engages with target users to understand core needs and how the app is a touchpoint in a larger and distributed service ecology.

Both Waterfall and Agile have strengths, weaknesses and their own merits, but used separately they are limited and flawed.

Wagile

HCD & Contextual Research

Understanding users needs and importantly their desires is key.  Increasingly  ‘wants’ rather than ‘needs’ motivate customers.  For example, customers ‘need’ to text messages but they ‘want’ an iPhone. Customers want a great experience and the social cache of owning a premium brand and awesome products. In short cusotmers are seeking self-actualisation and they are willing pay a premium for it.

To understand ‘wants’ and ‘desires’ we need to intimately know and understand our customers; their attitudes and values. To do this we need to undertake sustained research at the beginning and throughout the early phases of a project through ‘conversations’. However, we need to work quickly and with agility, without over committing resource to design directions that might fail in the market place. 

This is where WAgile becomes attractive.  It takes the best features and benefits of Waterfall and Agile to combine them with HCD and Design Thinking. WAgile is an iterative design and innovation model that employs contextual research driven insights, design thinking, business science and uses sprints to work with agility in cross-functional teams to implement quickly.

At the beginning of the WAgile process I use both contextual inquiry techniques and data analytics to discover who is the ‘customer’ and what are their desires, needs and goals. I balance this with the business needs as we seek new opportunities to disrupt.

This means working closely and dialoging continually with current and potential customers. The process starts with Contextual Inquiry (CI) using ethnographic research augmented with data driven strategies where we use data garnered from customer interactions through owned, paid and social media. Each point of contact with the customer is an opportunity to harvest information and data to gain insights.

User Stories – a common currency

An important tool in the WAgile process are User Stories; the common currency of design. We describe customers tasks and goals through user stories that in turn become features and functions to design and build.

Framing the problem, defining the opportunity areas and designing solutions are based on User Stories. Then workstreams and sprints are forumlated based on MoSCoW principles working with users and the core team. This is part of the continual dialogue and conversation model with customers.

Working sometimes only a day or two ahead of the software developers, the designers use ‘Evidencing’ to bring concepts to life. Evidencing involves creating objects or ‘props’ to act out scenarios and create Rapid Experience Prototypes.  The prototypes explore the way a proposed MVP and design concept will feel and perform. 

By ‘Evidencing’ concepts we can animate and interact with concepts to assess their usefulness in an iterative process with users. This results in tangible evidence (as wells as stills and videos) that enables the core team make early informed judgments about the implications of the design concept.

Based on the outcomes and insights of Evidencing, the user stories are refined and translated into detailed features and specs. The information architectures are refined, wireframes are created, GUI assets are created and coding begins.

WAgile is fast, efficient and enables the user to be involved while the team implements what the user wants.

 

Hot Trend – Ghost Buttons

A noteworthy and perhaps one of the biggest trends of 2014 has been the Ghost Buttons (they are the transparent and clickable elements in a UI that are this big simple buttons). You’ll see these buttons on splash pages featuring those big epic images… and if you hadn’t noticed they are taking the UI design world by storm.

So the basic elements of a ghost button are: they are basic, flat shaped and often geometric – a square, rectangle, or circle.  Importantly they have no fill and feature just a a simple stroked outline. They are  transparent, (or perhaps have a faint opacity)  asides from the outline and text – and that’s where the term  ghost is derived from.

They are popping up all over the web and seem to be popular in creative and cultural sectors like fashion, photography and interior design.

These buttons suit a minimal theme and layout, often featuring large format images. They tend to be somewhat larger than traditional clickable buttons on websites and are often situated in the center of the screen.

 

Ube Selected For Techstars Incubator Program in Austin, TX.

Ube is now part of Techstars! They’re looking forward to having access to over 90 qualified mentors and the great opportunity to connect with investors in accelerating the delivery of the Ube App and their Smart Dimmers to control lights and home automation. Techstars is the #1 startup accelerator in the world and only 1% of applicants are accepted. http://www.techstars.com/program/locations/austin/
Factotum’s Peter Fossick is an Angel Investor in Ube and Factotum helped design the Branding, Products and App for Ube.

iXDA in Amsterdam – FEB ’14

“Interaction14 will be held in Amsterdam from 5 to 8 February 2014. Four days of presentations and workshops with unique opportunities to share your point of view and get inspired by stories from around the world!

Our art and craft are evolving with usage patterns and technological developments. Interaction Designers strive to create meaningful relationships between people and the products and services that they use, from computers to mobile devices to appliances and beyond. Our practices are evolving with the world!

Interaction14 in Amsterdam will be inspired by the multiple relationships and the emerging languages, offering an interaction design grammar for different contexts, from urban to mobile screens, from immersive to sensor-based environments.”

http://www.ixda.org/conference

Lenovo Enter Post-PC era with record profits!

 

If anyone needed more evidence that the post-PC era is upon us, they likely got it Thursday morning. Lenovo on Thursday posted its fiscal first-quarter results, revealing that it earned $170 million in profit on a record $8.8 billion in sales. The most interesting news from Lenovo, however, was that it confirmed that combined smartphone and tablet sales overtook PC sales last quarter. Lenovo, mind you, is currently the top PC vendor in the world, and yet its smartphone and tablet sales outnumber PCs. And it’s also not as though Lenovo’s PC sales are doing poorly — in fact Lenovo just outgrew the overall PC market for the 17th consecutive quarter. Lenovo’s full press release follows below.