How does Artkai design? The process that leads to outstanding products
At Artkai we are particularly excited about large-scale, complex and innovative projects, like SaaS and related to the service projects. Such projects entail long but enthralling design process in which we are required to play detective, be an explorer like Magellan to find innovative solutions.
Being a ‘design first’ studio, Artkai connects the cutting-edge technologies and thoughtful UI/UX design to create the chainsaw edge design that achieves client’s goals and win the hearts of users.
So, here’s how we do it at Artkai.
OUR METHODOLOGY: Apply or die
In Artkai we stand for tailor-made service and adapt our processes to the needs and pains of the clients, whom we call ‘our partners’. To make all design process consistent, we use two approaches: Waterfall and Agile methodologies.
As usual, we work on Waterfall. It means that as each of the stages is completed, we move on to the next step. However, to ensure efficient solutions and their early delivery we have borrowed some procedural elements from Agile. Such as:
- Standup meetings
- Project scoping
We provide clients with a personal project manager who will supervise all design processes inside the team and care about the client. It is very suitable when you don’t want to sink your teeth into managing processes or have a lack of expertise in a field.
In our company PM is a control freak in the very best sense of the term. Сolloborating with client s/he:
- calls every week
- reports every week
- worries all the week
- and, yes, s/he is a control freak
To keep our partner informed about the workflow, PM provides voice-over video with the result of our work. In this way the client knows exactly what’s been done and what we intend to do further.
While PM is the primary communication agent, Art Director is considered to be “agent provocateur” of design. He controls and guides visual aspect of the work. His call of duty to provide FWA-worthy results.
We do UI/UX design from scratch covering each aspect with deep knowledge and expertise. And we base all our processes on ‘Design First’ statement.
‘Consistency’ is the best word that one can apply to all our design processes.
Our primary goal is to match the design to a common denominator. No matter how many elements the system has, all of them have to match the common design denominator.
Every project starts with an estimation.
In this early stage, we act like a true detective carefully examining all project’s facts and details (desires, barriers, deadlines, preferences, etc.). We collect information and analyze it.
The investigation process starts with pre kick-off questions which we send to the clients. These questions usually сoncern their target audience, competitors, and existing design materials.
There are no hidden pitfalls here. Our estimation is based on our hourly rates. We work with both fixed-price and time&material projects. In a result, the client gets an estimation with the cover letter that describes the price logic.
Key points of contacts: stakeholders and project executors
Work environment set up
The visible part of our UX design process starts when we first get in touch with a new client. We set up the kick-off meeting with stakeholders. It could be held in online or offline mode. As a rule, our lead designer, project manager and designers assigned to the project are present at this meeting.
At the meeting we go through all project details, discuss its roadmap and lifecycle and agree on the main project milestones. We schedule the project tasks and the time when we need to get feedback.
List of the deliverables
So when initial information is gathered and arranged, we got… well, we dig deeper for some more. We conduct the additional research analyzing the project requirements from stakeholders, and learning more about needs and goals of the end users. Interviews with users of the target group give us essential information about their behavior and motivations. Empathy is crucial here.
Afterward, we analyze data and present findings.
Let’s get hands dirty with some UX.
To move forward, we create the user stories. It is a list of actions or event steps defining the interactions between the user and the system, to achieve a goal.
The user stories act as acceptance criteria and help us understand if the goal is achieved.
Thoughtful process must include everything that is essential and nothing that is not.
This information becomes the background for the development of user flow and information architecture. We discover how each item relates to all other elements within the structure. When the latter is ready, we check if the acceptance criteria are met.
Wireframing & Prototyping
Wireframing is the step, where thinking becomes tangible.
We create schemes, called wireframes to showcase the full spectrum of features of the particular project.
Wireframes help us uncover the methods to represent different types of content. It’s like an architectural blueprint; you need to see it in two-dimensional black and white schemes before you understand how to build the actual house. We use wireframes as the visual manual to deliver UI design on the next step.
Put together wireframes become a prototype. It is dynamic and gives an idea of performance and interaction. Prototype ensures that we are designing the best product from the get go.
Click-through prototypes are demoed via InVision App to collect feedback from the client. It is very easy and convenient way for both sides to discuss and improve the design process on the go.
To provide full and immersive user experience, we offer our clients to test the app directly on their smartphones.
When the client approves the prototype, the UX stage is completed. We move on to the next stage — UI (user interface) design.
Let the adventure begin.
If UX is the feeling you get being able to drive the car, the UI (user interface) it is how your car looks, its color, tires, and salon.
To put it simply, at the stage of UI we make the black and white wireframes of the app or website colorful and beautiful. At the same time, successful UI design isn’t just about making things look pretty. It’s about communicating the purpose of the product and the utility of its interface.
We do not separate UX from UI much as we believe they are two sides of one process and ideally should be executed by the same person.
Before we start crafting the UI itself, we prepare the design approach. It is one of the established and our favorite artifacts in Artkai. Design approach usually consists of two parts:
- Background data on branding, colors, patterns (which are usually provided by the client)
- Our proposals regarding style and visual approaches
We propose up to three options. Design approach helps client imagine and understand what style we will use creating the UI.
Having agreed on the design approach with the client, we can move forward and develop the design concept. It is the design of a key page or screen which becomes the benchmark for the whole project.
To keep the client informed of the UI design workflow, we conduct the demo days according to the project’s milestones which are fixed in agreement.
Concept design of a key page/screen
Visual design of all deliverables
When UI is finished, we create style guidelines for the navigation elements, the state of errors, required fields, etc. We download all these deliverables into Zeplin or Avocode. It is two main tools which we use to pass off all project’s assets to developers or the client. We can deliver just the source file to the client, as well.
Source files of all visual designs in Zeplin or Avocode
We have a ravenous appetite to the design process itself and work with extra passion on any design project. Small or big one. Standard and non-standard. All of them are beloved for us.
The design is not just about how something looks, but how it works. Things that look good may draw people in, but those people won’t stick around when things are poorly designed beyond the visual layer.
The painstaking efforts and meticulous process stand behind each pixel of design work. Thus, we are sure that:
Only carefully designed interfaces may rock, including euphoria and increased business profit.
Such results require a lot of work to be done, which is invisible to a simple layman. It is a combination of knowledge, service, efforts and experience. And this is how we do it at Artkai. Transparently, with passion and great attention to details.
Know you design studio and hire the one with proper & transparent processes.
We would be more than glad to craft future with you!