Do you have an idea for a new digital product or service? Are you looking to improve the User Experience (UX) with your existing product or service, be it a financial app, a B2B system, or an online store? Are you planning to check out “how others do it”? Or perhaps you have some other innovation-related challenge?
If you decide to partner up with Edisonda on your “path to innovation“, you can expect some initial chats with one of our consultants. We’ll likely loop in a subject matter expert to make sure we:
- Fully grasp the challenges you’re up against,
- Verify that we’re equipped to help you tackle them,
- Outline a design process that’s custom-fit for your specific needs.
So, once the ink is dry on the contract, what’s next? What can you look forward to in your partnership with Edisonda?
Every Client Is Unique
If we kick off a project together, you’ll notice right from the get-go that we’re keen on understanding your actual needs. At Edisonda, we work just as effectively with all kinds of clients: we’ll take one approach for those who are just starting out and still figuring out their project challenges, and another for those who already have a well-thought-out product or service and mainly need validation. Whether your need is fairly straightforward (like needing just a few design sketches) or really complex (like requiring a comprehensive approach to executing your innovation, including managing the entire project process), the good news is you’re definitely in the right place.
We get equally excited about each of our challenges—however, we respond to each in a different way, depending on where you’re coming from and where you aim to go in your collaboration with us. Below, you’ll find information about various project phases that may or may not appear on your “path to innovation“. These phases act as milestones in our collaborative efforts. In each phase, we utilise various tools and techniques that best suit your needs—you’ll find details about these tools and techniques in the linked articles.
Project Kick-off — The Starting Whistle
When we launch our joint project, the first thing you can expect is an invitation for you, your project team, and any stakeholders you’ve identified to a kick-off meeting—this is the official start to our agreed-upon actions, whether the meeting happens online or in person. From Edisonda’s end, you can anticipate the full execution team (Project Manager + designers) and the sales consultant who’s been liaising with you so far. It’s important to note that both your team and ours would work as one from the get-go, to ensure that we all play on the same field.
The goals of the project kick-off are specifically to:
- Get acquainted with both your organisation’s and Edisonda’s teams,
- Nail down organisational details (like key dates to consider for project execution and why, what communication channels we’ll be using and how often, who’ll be making project decisions on behalf of your organisation),
- Collectively confirm what we’ve agreed upon and make sure everyone’s on the same page—basically, confirming the project’s scope.
*If you’re now asking yourself, “Why do we need this if the contract is already signed?”—our experience shows that even at this stage, not only between the Client and the Contractor but also within the client organisation itself, the understanding and expectations concerning the project’s outcomes can significantly differ among stakeholders. So, the kick-off is a meeting where we align everyone’s understanding of the scope—what we’re agreeing to do, what we’re not agreeing to do, and confirm that everyone is on board with that.
Additional questions you can expect from Edisonda at the Kick-off:
- Initially, about any knowledge you have regarding the target Users and their issues, AS WELL AS any intuitions or ideas you have about potential solutions. We’ll also ask you for any source materials you may have, like Google Analytics data, Hotjar heatmaps, user personas, results of user tests/studies, etc.
- Initially, about any insights you have on the project context: for example, who your main competitors are, current market trends, and where you see yourself fitting into those trends;
- About known project risks on your organisation’s end—if we’re aware of them, we can better mitigate them;
- About any other substantive issues that raise questions or concerns for the execution team at the start of the project.
*Note: Even if your knowledge about Users or market trends is limited at the time of the kick-off, we’ll help you acquire it. We can draw from our own expertise and experience or conduct user research (discussed later in the article) or a market analysis that enables us to make the necessary project decisions.
After the kick-off, the Project Manager will develop a preliminary project timeline, including its various components. In cases of projects with a higher level of uncertainty, key assumptions regarding the execution timeline will be included. You’ll receive the schedule for confirmation, and it will be accessible to you throughout the project’s duration—any changes to the timeline will be discussed with you and made visible to you.
*Note: If you’re inviting Edisonda into an ongoing project where the work organisation has already been established (e.g., you’re using specific project management tools, have preliminarily planned project sprints, or have verified communication channels with another partner like an implementation partner), we will adapt to fit into the existing framework as much as possible without compromising the project’s effectiveness. Alternatively, we’ll propose process modifications to enable synergy between the actions of all organisations involved in the project.
“Discovery” Phase – Analysis and Setting Directions
Regardless of whether we are collaborating in a brief Discovery Sprint to bring your idea to life or embarking on a more complex process, the Discovery phase is the most crucial stage of the project for us. We create a solution tailored specifically for you and your users (either internal or external). No two organisations are the same, nor are two products. Your users are distinct from competitors’ users for specific reasons. If we don’t ground the design in reliable data, the project outcomes may not be sufficiently useful for your target group.
The duration of the Discovery phase depends on the complexity of the project. It could last a few days or extend up to several weeks. It could also be divided into stages and always precede the design of the next segment of the product or service. In this phase, Edisonda’s designers use creative tools to deepen their understanding of your organisation and users, identify gaps in knowledge, and possibly propose ways to fill those gaps.
*Important: From our perspective, you are the expert when it comes to your company, product, or service. Our role is to translate your vision and that of your users into a functional digital tool—this is where our expertise lies. Without collaboration with you, the basis for your project would rely solely on the designer’s general knowledge and experience, and that’s not enough. During the “discovery” stage, we remain a team, and the ball keeps moving between us. We verify incremental understandings of your context to ensure that the emerging concept aligns with specific realities—yours, your organisation’s, and your users’.
Even though our communication during the Discovery phase is ongoing, at this stage, we may also invite you to a longer workshop (if required). This would allow us to focus together for around 2-4 hours (or longer if needed) on the entirety or a specific segment of your solution. For the workshop, we’ll select an appropriate canvas—a workshop structure that organizes the information exchange and assures us that we’ll achieve the objectives of the meeting. A brief description of selected project canvases used in the Discovery phase can be found in this article.
The aim of such an extended workshop could be:
- To confirm that we understand the needs of the organisation and users correctly,
- To check whether the project stakeholders’ vision for the product or service remains consistent,
- To catch errors in thinking and correct them,
- To map out user journeys within the system (and preliminary directions for their optimisation),
- To prepare hypotheses for user research, if your project includes such a phase,
- To confirm or modify further project steps based on the knowledge gained during the Discovery phase.
User Research? – ALWAYS Worthwhile
If your understanding of users’ interaction with your product or service is limited, gathering data directly from the target group is the best approach. The earlier, the better: if you don’t know, don’t assume—ask!
*If you’ve never researched your users and think you won’t be surprised by anything, you’re almost certainly wrong 99.9% of the time. In our portfolio, there are numerous examples where user research fundamentally changed thinking about proposed solutions. For example, an investment fund product for younger customers. The client’s initial “non-negotiable” assumption that the offering should be very “youthful” in form and language was quickly verified by the target group as childish and inappropriate for a “serious” financial product. Another example is an app for insurance agents. The client was convinced that their employees “circumvented” using the existing online application because it had an outdated interface. This was true to some extent (the interface was outdated), BUT interviews with employees revealed that the main problem was not the app’s interface but its database performance. If an agent had a queue of customers to serve, they preferred to send a fax instead of waiting for the app to load; even the most modern interface would not have solved this problem.
How do we conduct User Research at Edisonda? The answer is “it depends.” We prefer direct conversations (1:1 interviews, focus groups, but also hybrids of these, such as in the form of so-called diary studies). Conversations with users are structured, and the level of their structuring is determined by a research script that we develop and then refine with you. This ensures that all your most important information needs are addressed within the interviews.
In some research, we aim to have all participants go through precisely the same path in as controlled a manner as possible. In others (especially in so-called exploratory research), we find loose digressions and enriching information more valuable in enhancing our understanding of user behaviour.
*In the case of user research involving people outside your company, the second important document we’ll jointly develop and consult on is known as a screener. This is a detailed description of the target group whose representatives will be studied, for example, “5 men, 5 women, 45-65 years old, from localities with up to 250,000 inhabitants, playing computer games for more than 5 hours a day” (this specific target group would likely be a challenge, but our recruiters have tackled even more complex ones!).
We will summarize and compile the research in a report, which we will discuss at a special meeting. If you wish to hear the voice of your users “live,” you can follow all the interviews in real-time or use recordings. If user research involves testing a product or service prototype, you can also observe the users’ screens. Do you think everything on your site is intuitive and understandable? — test it. When interpreting information, users’ imagination is almost limitless.
“Ideation” Phase — or Creating the First Concept of the Solution
The concept phase is the moment when, based on the information collected and analysed during the Discovery phase (and user research if it was part of the process), we make design decisions. We create, present, and discuss prototypes of “to-be” solutions with you, launching the “swallows” of a new product or service, proposals for changes in the business model, and preliminary sketches describing user activity in the designed reality (these mock-ups are sometimes even made “with pencil on paper” – some designers prefer such a high-level presentation of solutions).
In the Ideation phase, we not only confirm that we are moving in the same direction, but we significantly narrow down the “longitude and latitude” for the project. We select from the analysis and research those pieces of information that will first serve as our compass and decide which ones we will not be guided by at that moment. We also determine which response to which user need will (and which will not) enter the first version of the solution, the so-called MVP (Minimum Viable Product). We identify the most important value users will receive from us first and what we will not deal with for now, possibly doing it later.
“Design” Phase – Where Form Meets Function
You may be wondering why the design phase only takes place now. The answer is simple: at this stage, we have enough certainty that we are designing a solution with your organisation and your users in mind. Of course without taking this route, we could create some solution, dedicated to some users, fulfilling some assumed functions in some way. And it would probably work somehow. Would it work optimally for your target group—in other words, meet your customers’ expectations? Maybe, but we would have to be very lucky, and excessive faith in luck is not a good foundation for future investment success in innovation.
Depending on the type of project, in this phase we will present you with various types of design materials. In complex systems, this will certainly include Information Architecture — a detailed plan of your digital service showing where a specific piece of information can be obtained, and which path will lead to it.
Information Architecture is like a “floor plan.” This is where the bathroom will be, you can get to it from the living room, but just in case, we’ll also place a door directly next to the children’s room. This is because our user research indicated that when their small children are creating art with their hands, they should have very quick access to running water. The same applies to online services, where we plan the path to reach a specific place in the system so that the user can obtain the data they need as quickly as possible.
Once we confirm the information architecture with you, we will agree on the order in which to develop the individual views of your service (views, meaning the different screens visible to the User while navigating through the service). You will receive the designs of these views in the form of mock-ups or “clickable prototypes,” allowing you to interactively demonstrate the operation of the future, implemented product.
In the simplest distinction, at Edisonda we create two types of mock-ups:
- Functional mock-ups (UX, User Experience): focus on the mechanics of the service, i.e., the functionalities available to the User on a given view of the service, or what the User will be able to do at a particular place in the service.
- Graphic mock-ups (UI, User Interface): support the User through visually highlighting the most critical functionalities and creating the so-called “look and feel,” a coherent impression of the product/service interface, consistent with your brand and the “mood” you want to set for the User.
The functional designer (UX) will propose and will want to confirm with you:
- The importance/hierarchy of functionalities – i.e., what must be visible from the level of a given screen, and what actions the User should have access to,
- The roles in the system for which functionalities should be available (often not every User can do the same thing in the system),
- The number of categories in lists (i.e., in menus) from which the User will choose,
- The number of columns and rows in tables, the type of data,
- The length of the text, entered, for example, for product names on the page,
- And more.
The graphic designer (UI) will want to propose and confirm with you:
- The colours of your product/service interface,
- The fonts used in your service,
- The visual presentation of data – e.g., the type and appearance of charts, iconography,
- Solutions supporting the readability of the service (especially when the interface contains a large amount of data, e.g., in ERP, hospital systems, accounting systems, etc.),
- The target appearance of components in your service (and, if we’ve agreed, will develop all the components used in the mock-ups into a coherent library/design system to allow the implementation team subsequent, hassle-free (re)construction of your service),
- Consistency with your brand / other products or systems in your company.
*The UI designer will likely ask you for a brand book, i.e., guidelines concerning the graphic standards applicable in your organisation (if they exist).
We will discuss the progress of the mockup work with you during regular meetings. This way, you can not only watch as your product or service grows and takes shape, but also share your real-time feedback on our designs. For instance, you can comment directly on the project mockups, which we usually create in Figma (unless the specifics of your project dictate otherwise). By inviting you to the project file, we invite you to co-create the final shape of your product or service.
We promise to engage in constructive discussions with you about emerging ideas, leveraging our experience and creative potential.
*Note: We won’t always agree with each other. In fact, there may even be disagreements among your stakeholders regarding the proposed solutions. In such situations, we will offer tools that help us break through decision-making stalemates.
Pro Tip: As early as possible, and certainly during the design phase, it’s advisable to involve individuals responsible for the later implementation of the project (developers). This allows them to assess the technical feasibility of the solutions proposed by our designers within the capabilities of your organisation. Doing so avoids situations where the implementation team first sees the designed digital product or service only after the design team has completed its work. Often, this results in comments like, “It looks great, but it can’t be done here.” This leads either to the project being shelved or to “alternative” solutions being created, which may compromise the logic or coherence of the service.
Implementation – The Birth of a Star
If we’ve reached this stage, it means we’ve agreed on the service mockups (or parts thereof) with a focus on making it intuitive, clear, easy, and enjoyable for your users. In our terms, we’ve designed a positive user experience for your digital product or service. As a satisfied client, you say, “Let’s implement it!” What comes next?
At this stage, we organize and develop the project files so that the mockups are as intuitive, clear, easy, and enjoyable for the implementation team as they are for the end-users. The goal is to ensure that developers have as positive an experience working with our mockups as your users will have interacting with your future product or service. If it was part of the order, a library of elements or design system for implementation is also refined.
Is this the end? Not quite. Even if the implementation team has been involved from the start of the project, it’s possible to discover inconsistencies, technical challenges, missing components, or additional questions during the implementation phase. In such cases, we support the implementation team by answering questions or designing the necessary elements. In short, we’re in touch.
It’s almost certain that, as the final stage of implementation, your implementation partner will propose conducting User Acceptance Tests (UAT). These tests allow you to check, approve, and accept the developed software (or parts of it). In simple terms, UAT verifies whether a given screen or functionality conforms to the agreement. At this stage, if any aspects are identified that need fine-tuning, we also provide support in our areas of responsibility.
The “Market Fit” Phase – Can Our Star Shine Even Brighter?
In this phase, if you wish, we monitor the performance of the deployed product or service in the market to better align your service with user needs. At this stage, we can offer you traffic statistics analysis (e.g., Google Analytics), interviews with product or service users, and for a more advanced approach, the so-called heart framework canvas (you can find a description of this project canvas HERE). By examining the interactions of real users with your product or service, you gain insights into the future development directions for your service, beyond the MVP stage.
Below, for your convenience, we have compiled a short usability design glossary containing the key terms that have appeared in this article and may also appear in collaboration with Edisonda. Knowing these terms, you won’t be surprised by project jargon, and you’ll know exactly where you stand in the project process.
Meanwhile, if after reading this, you feel that you want to learn more about Edisonda and how we work, are interested in UX training, or wish to discuss the possibility of future collaboration on your product or service (even if it’s just at the idea stage) – feel free to contact us!
User Experience – The overall experience a user has while interacting with a product or service.
Project Phases – The various stages a project goes through from start to finish; not all phases described in the article may occur in your project.
Discovery Phase – The initial phase focused on gaining a deep understanding of the project’s goals and scope.
Ideation Phase – The stage where brainstorming and conceptualisation occur.
Design Phase – The phase concentrated on designing the complete solution; expect UI/UX mock-ups and prototypes.
Implementation Phase – The stage of implementing or deploying the product or service.
Market Fit Phase – The phase focused on tailoring the deployed product to the market.
Kick-off – A meeting between your team and the Edisonda team, signifying the official start of the project.
Project Scope – The extent of what the project will cover.
Project Timeline – The plan for executing the project over time (what/when/by when).
Workshop Canvas – Frameworks/structures used during workshops to guide discussion.
Design Workshop – A joint session for solving design-related problems.
Co-Creation Workshop – Collaborative designing involving various stakeholders.
Screener – A questionnaire or tool used to identify suitable research participants.
Research Scenario – A set plan for conducting user research.
MVP – The simplest version of a product/change that can be released.
Information Architecture – The structure and organisation of information in the product.
Functional Mock-ups (UX – User Experience) – Mock-ups focused on the mechanics of the service, i.e., functionalities available for the user on a particular service view, indicating what a user can do at a specific place on the service.
Graphic Mock-ups (UI – User Interface) – Support the user through the visual emphasis of the service’s most crucial functionalities, creating the so-called “look and feel.”
Look and Feel – The overall perceptible impression of the product’s quality.
Element Library / Design System – A set of ready-to-use graphical components for expanding the product or service (somewhat like puzzles).
UAT – Final tests aimed at ensuring that the product meets the needs and requirements of users.