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Inside the Design Lab

Rapid digital innovation through Design Thinking.


Ian H Smith

Our Design Lab brings together the best talent for advanced, yet cost-effective digital innovation: designers, developers and scientists. What differentiates our approach is our willingness to be paid on Deliverables, Not Hours - underpinned by applying Design Thinking and No-Code Platforms to every stage of our work. We remove risk, cost and time.

Design Thinking

At the heart of our Design Lab is Design Thinking, where we work hard to place people at the centre of problem-solving through digital innovation. Where we see things going wrong with Web, mobile or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps, it is often due to either overlooking some stakeholders in understanding the problem, or leaping straight into creating apps and not investing sufficiently in the Design Thinking required to achieve a deeper understanding of what's needed.

This is built on a foundation of the five step method created by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University ( Empathize; Define; Ideate; Prototype; and, Test - rapidly iterated. This approach is most effective when the journey from concept to (software) product or service is a very short distance - hence 'No-Code First' as explained below.

In our Design Thinking method, the initial 'Empathize' step is the crucial foundation for ensuring subsequent success in publishing a Web, mobile or SaaS app. What matters most here is what we call 'Fierce Reduction': a mindset rooted in countering the complex thinking that is all too pervasive in the tech industry. This simply means following this key Design Principle: when it comes to User Experience (UX), eliminate everything you can.

No-Code First

What greatly helps to translate stakeholder ideas into tangible app experiences is the use of a No-Code Platform to make the distance between problem and solution a matter of only hours and minutes. This is especially true for forms-based Web, mobile and SaaS apps, and where the Salesforce Lightning Platform becomes a powerful enabler of No-Code First.

This requires managers to stop an emotional attachment to ground-up coding, wrongly believing that Intellectual Property ("IP") or 'control' of a product or service roadmap can only be assured by employing syntax-level programmers and hand-crafting software on a tech 'stack'. This was rarely the right approach in a booming economy. In a recession, it simply makes no sense at all for the vast majority of new digital innovations.

Deliverables, Not Hours

Through a series of Mutual Value Discovery Workshops, our Design Lab generates and maintains a clear Statement of Work (SoW) for every stage of the design, development and delivery process for Web, mobile and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps. This allows us to precisely define and agree a set of Deliverables, mapped to Sprints of between one and four weeks duration. 

In turn, each Sprint becomes a Deliverable for Acceptance sign-off of regular monthly payments of these fixed-price, fixed-time phases. Therefore, we are not motivated to extend billable people hours. We remove cost uncertainty and risks throughout each engagement.

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