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Why working ‘lean’ drives better ROI

Tom Bradley, Design Director, Code Computerlove.

If you do things the same way you’re likely to get the same results, right?

Consumers aren’t interacting with brands in a way they did, say even six months ago, let alone a year, so unless you’re iterating based on real time measurement, your digital product that has taken months to develop is likely to be out of date as soon as you release it.

A solution is to adopt an iterative approach to digital evolution and transformation using lean principles. But what exactly does this mean and does it deliver better results?

Tom Bradley, design director at Code Computerlove, argues that it does and explains why,

“Marketing campaigns have always been about ‘the big reveal’ but digital isn’t about marketing anymore – it’s about an ongoing commitment to creating value across a client’s business, that’s continually evolving based on real-time insight into what each and every brand’s customers are doing online.

Thinking about delivering “projects can mean your brief is out of date the day you send it - often focused entirely on pre-defined solutions. Instead, it’s faster (but not easier) to simply address “what problem are we trying to solve?”

From here, it’s about trying to remain focused and objective in an ever-changing environment. By starting with in depth research insights, working with actual customers or accurate consumer profiles; a shortlist of ways in which the problem might be solved can be drawn up. Next, rapid prototyping will identify only those ideas that have the biggest impact with actual users.

This takes the risk out of building the wrong thing because throughout we’ve prioritised based on measurable outcomes and used prototypes to ensure every idea has been underpinned with research.

A great example of this is when I worked at the BBC as creative director of UX&D Children’s. I learned quickly that when working with children, you can’t get away with just saying you inherently know what they will do. You have to observe, do some design, then test and observe again. Repeating as necessary until you hit the sweet spot. This process is necessary when designing for adults too.

It’s easy to fall into a “just build it” mentality, where the only importance is hitting a deadline or coming in ‘on budget’. But as a result you can release features that are either not really required and/or perform at sub optimal level. Multiply these by a few hundred and the overall value of your product has an exponential curve of waste and inefficiency.

A MVP (minimal viable product) approach means we can learn quickly, base decisions on insight, iterate and move on to the next thing – all the time moving closer to the overall vision, even if consumer expectations change.

These new processes do require a new type of relationship between client and agency. There has to be the understanding and trust that what seems wasteful at the start of the process (after all-it will never be easy to find that a design, that everyone had bought into, didn’t land with consumers) will build more value longer term.

Products need to be adaptable so we can change their shape and direction to meet an ever-changing consumer world. Working lean means we can iterate fast, releasing feature by feature, and using real user insight, to drive the prioritisation of the changes that are going to deliver the most valuable return. You’re delivering what people want today and tomorrow, continually reviewing this. In a big bang world, you can only deliver what seemed right for your customer six to twelve months ago.

We have a manifesto that summarises the behaviours that help us work smarter, reducing waste along the way, and bringing our output much more in line with today’s client needs – as for us – some of our traditional agency working practices are now feeling outdated. Here it is in a nutshell…Solve Problems over Predefined Solutions, Experiences over Designs, Product over Project, Value over Volume, Data Driven over Opinion, Iterative over Big Bang, Adaptability over Constraints.

We’re not saying this is completely new, or that our way of doing things is better than any other – rather this is what works for us, so let’s use it as the starting point for each conversation.

Tom Bradley, Design Director, Code Computerlove.

Tel: 0161 276 2080



Twitter: @computerlovers