How our Compass Sessions kickstart the ‘one best way’ for your product

So an idea sits in your mind. Maybe it’s an app, a site or a new startup. It’s a little kernel of something, and you know it’s good, but you’re not exactly sure what to do with it.

That’s normal. All good things start at that exact place. But what’s next? Any good idea can go in 100 different directions, so it’s important to set off in the right direction.

And then there’s the greatest directional force of all, that eternal question: how much will it all cost?

Well, the only way forward is through thorough investigation.

Enter the Compass Session

A Compass Session is a meeting that we organize with our clients in order to answer some salient questions right off the bat, leaving nothing to be assumed. This helps to guide all that follows.

Based on how much information a potential client can provide, we will ask questions that help to discern these four big things:

  • What are the goals of your product?
  • How do we get there?
  • What is the timeframe?
  • What is your budget?

After all, clarity is the most important aspect of a project, especially at the beginning. You build great things on strong foundations.

So, what are the goals of your product?

Answering this is no small feat. To have an ‘awesome product’ doesn’t cut it. We all want an awesome product. What are the real targets?

For example, if you’re designing a social app for marketing professionals, you probably want to hit a certain number of users on launch, and then build a proper community around things that are useful to your users. Do you imagine it as a site that users will visit weekly, or daily? How do you get people to want to do this? As you peel the onion back, new considerations and layers emerge, informing what concrete goals should be set for a product.

At Caravan, we have a lot of experience in this process, and have helped our clients to refine their vision. Compass Sessions make sure that we understand your goals on day 1, and that you do as well.

And, how do we get there?

Informed by concrete goals, our engineers will ask further questions to define the site map and user stories (pathways users will take) that start to sketch a workable blueprint. A constant consideration is the elimination of barriers for users (things that we all recognize are redundant). This comes from asking questions that identify the core requirements, and move outward from there. The product is also considered from a security and data standpoint.

Informed by the goals as well as the aesthetic vision for your product (whether concrete or not), our designers will ask questions that help to visualize the key elements of your idea and product. The target is to establish a visual language and design cues that best represent and communicate the intended use of the product early on, so that these can be built upon incrementally.

With these pieces in place, the Compass Session has already started to reveal the contours of your idea. This is the exciting stuff: when an intangible thing starts to take on its physical form. Now something workable has been imagined, and we will be able to imagine it further together.

Now, what is the timeframe?

With the contours defined, we can set a roadmap that takes into consideration how quickly you need a product, or how much slack you might have for reflection after each increment in the process. We work in two-week sprints, with workable software demonstrated at each encounter. Based on your needs, we establish the number of sprints and what milestones need to be met for each sprint to be considered a success.

And finally, how much will it cost?

This depends on the contours of the minimal viable product (MVP) that we’ll build for you, as well as the timeframe you’d like to work within. One thing’s certain: the Compass Session helps to keep costs down by setting off in the right direction as as quickly as possible.

By the end Compass Session, we can provide an extremely accurate estimate. We pride ourselves on our forecasting ability, and know from experience that accuracy comes from a strong Compass Session with our clients.

Now that we’re all onboard, let’s make this happen.

The Compass Session is a strong introduction of our personalities and abilities for your team. At the same time, it is mutually beneficial in that we get to know you and your idea to a degree that we start to invest ourselves in it right away.

So once we have our bearings, we set off together on Discovery Sprints, Agile product development, deeper conceptualization, refinement of vision, and product delivery.

After all, you don’t go into the woods without a compass.