Strike: Phase 2 - Create

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Build and launch your first iteration

Create is all about getting the first version of your product into the hands of users. We may have listened to them during our interviews but it’s another thing to see if they were telling the truth. Making changes is much easier early on in the development process so the sooner we release the better. The main activities are outlined below.

1. Kick start the design process for your MVP capabilities

We now know what we’re focusing on so it’s time to work on our wireframes. It’s important to visualise the goal of the user flow we’re working on as well as have the persona to hand. These artefacts help us to focus and allow us to demonstrate empathy towards the target user, both of which will yield dividends in the future.

With these artefacts ready to go we start by sketching out a low fidelity version of the user flow. We remember to keep our sketches lean and focus on the must have requirements over everything else. We do this so that we don’t fall into a feature fallacy early on. Balsamiq is our tool of choice for wireframes.

Once we have created our wireframes it’s time to have a discussion with the team. Different perspectives help us improve the overall UX and consider any technical implications. We can then quickly make any required changes. We stick to one flow at a time to ensure it receives the attention it requires.

2. Conduct user testing up-front to remove UX issues and confirm value

Your users are involved throughout the entire process and the design phase is no exception. Once we are happy with a flow we take it to your Alpha group for user testing. The great thing about testing with wireframes is your users focus on outcomes rather than details which is beneficial for everyone.

Our facilitators will remind the participants they are not being judged and will avoid prompts as much as possible. We do this because we get the most insight when a user is relaxed. It’s always good practice to ask a set of product and habit screening questions prior to testing scenarios so that we understand why actions are being taken.

We then collate and discuss the insights from our sessions before updating our wireframes as appropriate. Once we’re happy it’s time to pass them to the designer to create the UIs. We then repeat the testing process using high fidelity designs so that we can optimise your product for user actions and higher engagement. It’s then a case of preparing assets and specs for developers and accompanying them with user stories to fully define the work item before we start coding.

3. Decide on tech, outline system architecture and agree working practices

Once we have validated designs in place we make a final decision on technologies and architectures. There are a variety of pros and cons to each technology so a lot will come down to your unique needs. It is important that our decision is fit for purpose both now and in the future so we check it against the product roadmap.

We then collaboratively decide on how to work together. At ucreate we use our own tool as part of a pair programming exercise. We then have a set of guidelines and processes for our developers to follow when they submit and review code. Our guidelines are in place to improve the quality of our work and if you have your own set it is still important for us to clarify these before development starts.

4. Use a combination of scrum and kanban to manage development tasks

To deliver a product quickly it’s safe to say we recommend using agile techniques. Rather than following one methodology to the letter we use a combination of scrum and kanban. We do this because estimates are notoriously difficult and often unreliable. We still use the practice of estimating but is is more for the conversations it produces rather than the estimates themselves.

To manage the product moving forward we use a dual track agile system. We have a kanban board for long and near term items and another for the development team to focus on short term items. The splitting of these two helps focus on the right things with the right stakeholders. It’s also a great way to visualise changes and the knock on effect they have.  

Sprints are then defined and development requirements are specified in user stories. Our stories are small to increase throughput and quality. Each week starts with a familiarisation call. Here team members run through the stories for the week ahead and resolve any outstanding queries. Throughout the week we continuously push code to reduce testing cycle times and at the end of the week we run a retrospective to assess and improve our performance.

5. Take the product to your Alpha group for regularly insights whilst building

During the early stages of development we may not have an end to end solution but this won’t stop us testing with users. When a flow has been completed we conduct user testing with your Alpha group to observe how they interact. We gain a great deal of insight but another added benefit is that we keep your early adopters engaged.

As per previous user research and testing cycles we collate, discuss and act on insights. These mini improvement cycles help us to refine your product whilst we continue to build out more capabilities. We then continue this process until we have created your MVP and are ready for a wider launch. The create phase is typically the longest of all phases in the Strike programme.

It’s now time for the Learn phase. Find out more here.