When you’re ready to update your website, launch a new app, or tackle a new project, you’re faced with myriad questions: How do you know which features address your users’ needs and achieve your vision? How do the decisions you make impact the underlying technology used to build the product? Can your existing server support this new product? Should you set up a dedicated server for the app? Is this all going to blow up in our faces? and so on.
As technology becomes more powerful, it also becomes more complicated and more integrated. Organizations no longer use simple email list servers. Instead, we turn to a tool like ActiveCampaign … which talks to our content management system … which integrates with our customer relationship management software … which connects with our conversion funnel tools … which all roll back up into business intelligence software that connects with sales, distribution, finance … and the list goes on.
This expanding and increasingly integrated technology opens up a world of possibilities. But when you’re working with different experts in each discipline and those experts aren’t talking to one another, it can turn your product launch into a disjointed process that lacks collaboration and nimbleness.
The benefits of aligning disciplines
These common pinch-points are why we integrate strategy, design, development, and server administration into nearly everything we build. Approaching development as a single project from start to finish—rather than focusing on one particular discipline and one stage of the process—allows us to better serve clients so they’re not left trying to bridge the gaps between multiple agencies.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Strategy is about positioning yourself in the market—while aligning organizational capabilities with the needs of those you serve—in a way that delivers competitive and sustainable value. Market position, capabilities, and customer needs are constantly changing, which require constant course correction, reevaluation, and hard choices.
When there’s a disconnect between strategy and design or development, some of the nuance can be lost. Designers and developers can become focused on specific features or functions and lose sight of the strategy the new product or feature is meant to support. This can result in a beautiful, functional app or website that still doesn’t quite support the needs of the organization or user.
Because we lead strategy conversations with our clients, our design and development teams have a complete understanding of the strategy and goals. They’ve “met” the personas who drive design decisions. They know which features have the most impact for core users. And our strategists are part of the design, development, and launch process so they can help keep everyone focused on the goal.
Design today is about more than pretty images on the screen; it includes things like UX design, interaction design, and goal-directed design. But when a designer is working independently from strategists and developers, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. This is especially true when you’re updating an existing app or site. It’s important to be sure new features aren’t just being layered haphazardly onto the existing infrastructure. Instead, designers need to look for ways to make them connect and support the user.
Pulling from the research we’ve done, we’re able to design not just for aesthetics but for user experience as well. Our designers then work with our developers to ensure that the final product hits the design goals both visually and functionally.
The development team is, by the nature of making software, the furthest removed from why strategy and design decisions have been made. This natural distance can cause frustration between the product owner and the development team. This is why our development team works alongside our strategists and designers from the very beginning. They attend the on-site discovery sessions and participate in the workshops.
Our development team takes the work that the strategists and designers have done and brings it to life. What makes our approach truly effective, though, is that the developers are part of the conversation from the very beginning. This gives them an intimate understanding of clients’ values, culture, and goals, both overall and for a particular project. And because our developers work closely with our server administrators, they can ensure the server is configured to best support the application.
It doesn’t matter how much work you’ve put into the strategy, design, and development of a website or app if the server can’t support it once it’s live. It can be frustrating for the launch team and for users to have the server crash just when excitement peaks.
While it might seem like an unrelated service, we use our expertise in server administration to ensure the things we build will be secure, performant, and reliable. This means clients don’t have to rely on a third party to understand and meet the needs of the product. Providing in-house servers also means we can respond quickly when a deployment requires additional resources. Our hosting team works closely with the development team to ensure the server is ready for big launches. And server maintenance doesn’t catch anyone by surprise!
Despite how fragmented technology options have become, we believe aligning disciplines and working together is an important part of launching new and effective ideas! It’s difficult to imagine success without them.
At Agathon, we combine each of these disciplines to provide a straightforward and unified process for clients. Our strategists, designers, developers, and server administrators work alongside one another as part of the same team. There are no walls to toss things over. No change management forms to fill out. No us-and-them.
We all have the same interest in mind: helping our clients achieve their goals.
Do you have a new product or service to launch? We’d love to help.
Kedron works with clients to develop their organizational strategy, align their objectives with users’ needs, and refine their UX. He’s passionate about helping them unlock opportunities to serve their customers and deliver value.