Always Thinking

our process

group-photoWebsites and other digital products have never been under more time to market pressure—and with Responsive design, increasingly multi-channel and transactional aspects the need to perfect quality has never been higher. Anyone who tells you that doesn’t present a huge challenge also probably has ocean front property for you somewhere in the Midwest. Scratch the surface of a firm that tells you they have a simple process that is completely transparent to the customer, and you’ll probably find they build mainly small sites or single silo apps styled with auto-dating “flat design.” To put it mildly, those trends are not helpful to our clients.

At TBG, we’ve refined our processes thoughtfully since day one—which by the way was about day 45 of the WWW. It has never gotten boring, and much of the secret of how we approach projects is in the detail of what we have learned not to do through our unusually broad and deep experience.

Culturally, our firm balances extraordinary attention to detail and thoroughness with constant thoughtful re-evaluation. We tune our process to the grounded reality of each project and continuously improve our overall models as we learn from each project. And after 300+ significant projects, that’s a whole lot of kaizen.

Agile or Waterfall? Well, neither.

Agile or Waterfall? Well, neither.

People need to stop talking about the binary battle of Agile vs. Waterfall, because there are so many dimensions to modern websites and digital products that demand neither. At TBG, since most of our projects are either:

  • Large, often high visibility websites with complex CMS implementations, or

  • Leading-edge HTML and multi-channel implementations

…we can’t afford either the lack of top-down view and constancy on complex projects that is a major downfall of Agile, nor the ponderous slowness of a truly waterfall methodology.

What is needed is a process that, in the fine details of execution, can make the thoughtful architecture and project organization of waterfall happen with something like the speed and project visibility of an Agile approach—highly overlapped, improvisational at times, but still fully documented.

How this works in reality is a complex matter.

Project Management & Team Perspective

Project Management & Team Perspective

No amount of methodology can help a project if the approach is a rote one of checking boxes or jumping through hoops. The project has to make sense at every step along the way.

Not only are TBG project/account managers highly skilled consultants who substantively understand their projects and build on years of similar projects, the rest of the TBG staff also has an industry-leading level of multi-disciplinary perspective. Here, we aren’t talking about rank-and-file web generalists, but rather truly expert programmers, usability specialists, strategists, designers, and serious front-end coders who know enough about each other’s disciplines to be really dangerous.

This formidable knowledge base—and high level of cross-discipline engagement—is one of the aspects that make TBG special. All of our projects include full cross-departmental review of all deliverables.

Mobile & Responsive & the Primacy of HTML

Mobile & Responsive & the Primacy of HTML

Increasingly, we are getting “back to basics” and using HTML as a central format for documenting developing plans for a project—and to some extent sideling other tools and graphic composition formats. This is because the complex, multi-view imperatives of full Responsive Web Design, increasing interaction design, and multi-channel formats put substantial pressure on the efficiency between composing designs and changing them. And without HTML prototyping, crucial concepts get lost in proofing. In other words, the days of the usefulness of static Photoshop comps are pretty much over, and a totally new approach to concepting and proofing is now relevant.

Principles for Successful Projects

Principles for Successful Projects

Today, there are a few principles that drive how we approach the varied methodologies for nearly all of our projects:

  1. Build on detailed discovery, substantive, strategies and real world examples.

  2. Educate early and often, in tune with your customer’s level of sophistication.

  3. Integrate ongoing cross-departmental reviews strategically for consistency and necessary levels of “top-down” perspectives.

  4. Keep a high level of creativity and pleasurable/distinctive design in the mix, even if a project is under time pressure and unexpectedly evolving.

  5. Reduce or remove redundant format or steps wherever possible, using the right tool or approach for each dependant step.

  6. Use strong canonical names to avoid ad hoc names for the same element as the project progresses.

  7. Make elements visually and behaviorally concrete for the customer as soon as possible.

  8. Leverage technology more for contextual documentation, audit trails, and discussion.

  9. Find ways that the budget and timeline don’t have to be the enemies of unexpected good ideas.

  10. Problem solving is inherently fun—find ways to make it even more so.

A Day In The Life

The battle continues. #spoonwars #TBG #alwaysthinking #agencylife

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