High Clarity focuses on many aspects of design. We work with businesses to clarify everything from business strategy to specification. Please contact us if you have any questions about your specific design needs.
Website visitors are split evenly between tablet, smartphone, and desktop/laptop viewing. It is no longer sufficient to provide a single viewing experience for all consuming devices. Yes, many smartphones have high-resolution screens, capable of viewing the same resolution as a desktop monitor; however, just because it fits on the smartphone screen, doesn’t make it readable to the user. The continuous zooming and panning creates much frustration. Mobile-specific sites were created to solve this problem, but they all have a big drawback: As the main site content evolves, the mobile version needs to be updated separately. In an effort to prevent this duplicity, true responsive design has evolved.
Responsive design renders a different visual presentation based on the consuming device – without requiring multiple versions of the site content. Everything is controlled through cascading style sheets (CSS) – and this provides a great deal of flexibility. We are able to collapse multiple column displays when viewing in tablets or smartphones – thereby providing an optimized version of the site for each device. This will become more mainstream over the next few years, but is something we recommend for all new website development projects. The High Clarity website is an example of a responsive design layout. If you view this site on a tablet and smartphone, it will look considerably different than viewing the site on a traditional desktop/laptop browser – optimizing the content for the best possible viewing experience at all times.
Each business is unique. Identifying requirements and putting together a development plan takes both art and science. The process of business strategy allows us to work with businesses and understand how to prioritize development with respect to scope, cost and time. We can then put together a product road-map that outlines features and delivery dates. In most cases, businesses have a good idea of the scope they need developed – but need help prioritizing features, understanding dependencies, and putting together a plan to get a minimum viable product released to the market in the shortest possible time-frame. Our business strategy experience helps businesses identify the most critical pieces to develop, so that they are able to launch the product in phased releases and start engaging customers much sooner than using traditional development methodologies.
The process of requirements gathering is all about prioritization. We look at every functional component and identify all the required features. We then prioritize these features and map them to milestone releases. This allows us to see the entire list of features in one place – while also understanding exactly when each feature will be delivered.
Use-case analysis is a helpful tool for understanding the various workflows in an application. We examine the workflow from the point of a certain user type, and in doing so, it allows us to ensure that we cover all functional requirements. For example, an end-user will have a substantially different workflow compared to a site administrator. By understanding each of these use-cases, we ensure that we think about, and plan, all necessary scenarios before getting too far down the road of development.
Wireframing is the process whereby we create a visual schematic of each workflow. The saying ‘a picture is worth a thousands words’ could not be more appropriate for this step of development. The wireframe is not intended to be the finalized design, but instead, bridges the workflow, layout, and user experience together in a simple, easy-to-understand diagram. Looking through the set of wireframes for a project should leave no uncertainty as to the exact workings of the application – and provides a good baseline for designing the look and feel of each screen.
User Experience (UX)
There are many aspects of website usability that are frequently ignored by developers. In an effort to cram as much information as possible on a page, the message of the page is often overlooked – creating a confusing flow with no guidance on how to proceed to the next logical page. User Experience (UX) focuses on providing the optimal flow through an application – taking things into account such as how the eye tracks from one part of a page to the next. Most importantly, UX deals with understanding the underlying message of each page – always ensuring that we guide users to the right call-to-action. This is critical, because it is the most successful way to lead users beyond the home page of the site. As UX evolves, a number of sound practices ensures that users get the best possible experience as they navigate through a site – and businesses ensure that they maximize their conversion rates – be it through purchasing a product, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out an online form.
The functional specification is a document that combines use-cases, wireframes and requirements – allowing both businesses and developers to understand exactly what is being built, how the workflows function, and what the site looks like. This is a very powerful document, as it creates an agreement on the scope to be developed. Based on the type of software methodology used (waterfall vs. agile), the specification may be a work-in-progress – continuously evolving as new features are added – or, the spec may be a finalized document that outlines the scope for any given milestone or project. Either way, it is critical to ensure that both sides have a clear understanding of what is being developed prior to starting the coding process.
The technical specification is a technical breakdown of the functional requirements – used predominantly by the development team. This document outlines the database schema, system architecture and APIs – as well as the front-end and back-end technologies to be used. The detail put into this specification is determined by the length of the milestone or project, the type of software methodology used, and the structure of the development team.