Approach

How we approach the people we work with, the digital products we design and code and the people first people that we partner with

To summarise, our approach is to build a strong foundation of trust and understanding with the people we work with. By using existing well established digital processes, frameworks and tools and pragmatically customising our process to suit the needs we are able to create a safe space and high quality digital products that encourage innovation, trust and ultimately leads to the most successful projects.

Our approach can be described in detail through our principles below;

Principle 1: Digital product principles

We approach the design and development of digital products with commonly accepted methods and principles. We will use all of these principles, but the fidelity of each might vary. We approach each with a sense of pragmatism and match of both project needs and resources required, as per our process here.

User centred design

Prioritise the needs and preferences of the end-users throughout the design and development process. Conduct user research, create user personas, and iterate designs based on user feedback.

https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/user-centered-design

Prototypes

We create and use prototypes to help the team, stakeholder and user understand the concepts of features. Our prototypes take many forms depending on the required complexity of the concept and the resources available. From paper sketches to clickable designs to coded prototypes.

Agile development

We balance both lean and agile methods as the project requires. We embrace an iterative and flexible development approach. Breaking down the project into smaller, manageable increments (sprints) and regularly reassess and adapt based on feedback and changing requirements.

https://www.atlassian.com/agile/manifesto

Data driven decision making

We gather and triangulate quantitative and qualitative user data to make informed decisions and to gain insights to better the digital product. What assessing a digital product, we typically use the NNGroups UX research methods diagram to assess what approach suits us best. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/which-ux-research-methods/

Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD)

We implement CI/CD practices to automate and streamline the development and deployment processes. This ensures a more efficient, stable and reliable delivery pipeline, integrating seamless DevOps principles into our workflows.

https://www.redhat.com/en/topics/devops/what-is-ci-cd

Accessibility

We design and develop digital products with accessibility in mind, ensuring that they are usable by people with disabilities. Adhering to accessibility standards (such as WCAG) is crucial for creating inclusive digital experiences.

https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/mobile/

Iterative quality assurance and testing - We conduct regular testing throughout the development lifecycle, including unit testing, integration testing, and user acceptance testing. This helps catch and address issues early, reducing the likelihood of major problems later in the process. Throughout all of our projects we create an approach that allows time and budget to be considered for the QA and testing needs of the project. This typically includes:

  • Requirements and Validation: We Verify and validate the platform requirements against stakeholder expectations to ensure clarity and accuracy.

  • Test Case Development: We create comprehensive test cases covering functional, non-functional, and integration aspects to evaluate the platform's performance and functionalities.

  • Regression Testing: We conduct periodic regression tests to ensure new updates or changes haven't adversely affected previously tested functionalities within the platform.

  • Usability and user interface (UI) Testing: We evaluate the platform's user interface (UI) and experience (UX) to ensure it is intuitive, user-friendly, and aligns with people’s expectations. We also ensure accessibility requirements are tested and met.

  • Performance and Load Testing: We perform tests to gauge the platform's performance under various load conditions, ensuring it operates efficiently and reliably even during peak usage conditions and also low data connectivity.

Principle 2: Partnership principles

We look at partnerships slightly differently than a typical agency or consultancy. We don’t have a linear set of steps we always follow, we don’t have out of the box team setup’s and we aim to work with partners for a long time. By being agile and pragmatic in terms of how we design our projects we are able to stay cost effective and achieve a high quality output, by putting focus on trust and the relationship early we are able to work on multiple projects with our partners over many years (see 2.3 Prior performance examples for this service) .

Assemble bespoke teams with a consistent owner

Any work we do from its initial ‘inception’ to ‘post-project’ learnings will have two generalists assigned to it. Those two people are responsible for ensuring quality and consistency throughout the Elsewhere journey. At least one of those people will be resourced as part of every project and be assigned in a production role such as project manager or product manager. Then each project will have its own quite specific and tailored needs. Therefore we assemble dynamic bespoke teams based on each project's needs. This is done by combining a generalist's broad digital knowledge with a specialist from our ‘expert network' of freelancers with the correct tailored skills required.

Pragmatic project design

Our partnership approach is to work in "bursts and blooms". During bursts, we work full-time with our partners to achieve high-intensity work that propels the digital product forward. Afterwards, we take a step back to allow our partners to adjust and learn from the changes we made.

As the digital product evolve, more challenges may arise, and we're ready to step in again for another burst of work. This allows us to work on small regular projects that have laser-focused outcomes, giving us the ability to provide accurate project quotes and achieve tangible success. This, in turn, leads to cost-effective and highly rewarding services for our partners.

We value the "blooms" just as much as the "bursts", as they provide space for our partner organisation to learn and integrate our work into their operations. We want to make sure that we're not just a temporary crutch for our partners, but instead, we're empowering them to thrive independently.

A typical overview of a partnership with different burst and bloom phases, highlighting the level of discovery, definition and delivery work involved:

Prioritise long term partnerships

We do our best work when we are involved early in the inception of a digital product or service and continue to be a trusted partner until they are able to do the work themselves or have their own internal team. To get to this stage with a digital product, it can take a few years.

Aim to become obsolete

Over the course of the partnership our aim in the end is always to not be needed anymore. What we mean by this is we want to enable our partners to take ownership of their own digital products and the team that supports them. This means training, sharing and onboarding or adopting our work is a big part of what we do.

Balance strategic thinking with action

We believe that we learn the most from a balance of short and pragmatic research & strategy activities and deliberate action. That means throughout our partnership we aim to get to the ‘doing’ part as quickly as possible, but only when we are sure that the strategy is well enough defined.

Principle 3: People principles

We’ve already said people are the hardest part. These principles are defined to help us make sure we address and understand the complexities of what it means to be human, whether that's the people on the project or the people we aim to help with the digital product we are creating.

Go deep on user and customer needs and motivations

What customers and users say isn’t always what they mean. We always endeavour to go deep on what the underlying motivations are, the ones that they might not even know themselves. Meeting these needs is the difference between an average and an excellent digital product.

Co create and design

One of the biggest blockers to change is ego. The status quo is also an 'ego quo'. It supports someone's professional identity and self-esteem. Often admitting that there's room for improvement is a potential threat. As the organisation facilitating digital change, we need to create pathways where people's ego can remain intact. The best way to do this is to co-design the path forward. Doing so is harder, but much more resilient.

Clear success criteria

From macro level goals of the project to the micro level intended outcomes of a meeting. We always define and align on what the aims and outcomes are and make sure everyone is clear why we are doing things and what success looks like. This makes sure the team stays effective, celebrates success and can do their best work.

Open and honest collaboration and communication

We foster effective and honest communication and collaboration within the project team. This includes regular meetings, retrospectives, transparent documentation, and the use of collaborative tools to streamline workflows. We aim to create a space of honesty and trust that is supportive of mistakes and misunderstandings. This ensures problems are identified early and dealt with to keep the project running smoothly

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