As a design consultancy competing for talent in the Bay Area, finding our niche has been a crucial factor in determining our brand and value offering to our employees. Initially, we primarily interviewed designers that lived in the Bay Area who were willing to commute to our office in San Mateo. While it is beneficial to have everyone in the same office, this meant we were competing with every other Bay Area tech company. Now, we seek seasoned designers with experience working on remote teams.
Today, with restrictions due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, many companies have closed their offices and sent their employees to work from home. Because of our international employee network, we have had years of experience working remotely. Here are a few practices that we have found most effective.
Find a Collaboration or Design Software That Works for Everyone
When we shifted to a distributed workforce in 2014, we started with a suite of three design tools that served a key piece in our workflow; however, no one tool provided the full capacity to accomplish all of our needs. For instance, while our designers used programs for Macs only, many of our clients used PCs, while our developers used both. Additionally, the larger the team, the more difficult it became to manage our design files.
Now, we use a single design software. Our entire design and development teams are remote and our clients and their overseas development teams need access to our project files at any time. Because of this, the central hub connects our internal teams, clients, and developers. The program both acts as a way to communicate within our team, as well as being accessible to everyone, no matter their computer.
Constant Communication is Key!
While working remotely, it is essential to maintain constant communication, both with customers and fellow team members digitally.
We communicate with our clients throughout development. As we begin our application design process, we are constantly reviewing our progress with the client. We have two ninety-minute web meetings each week, sharing new work that we have completed within a single project file. We also develop light-weight prototypes to show key user scenarios and basic UI interactions. Additionally, we stay in touch throughout the entire development process, giving customers access to our in-progress work and responding to their feedback.
For the Catalyst team, our designers will split project tasks; for example, one designer may work on application architecture, while a second designer is simultaneously developing the visual design. When a member of our development team has a question, they will comment in the program, which can then be viewed by all design members who respond and make any necessary updates.
By maintaining this constant dialogue, our team and customers get a look inside our development process every step of the way and can give direct feedback. This allows each party to understand and unify everyone’s wants and needs.
Being Part of Our Clients’ Teams
We now offer our clients our design and development services on retainer. This places any number of team members in a long term role in their development process with the added benefit of having a senior team member to oversee the project.
Most of our clients’ domain expertise is non-software related. For example, our client Roche manufactures medical diagnostic equipment. Since software development is outside their core competency, they use Catalyst to provide additional expertise in UX research, design and development.
By embedding a Catalyst team member, we provide input on new UI technologies, recommendations on UI architecture and building scalable design systems that can be used across multiple products in the organization.
Work With Us
If you’re resource constrained during COVID-19 let us know. Our distributed team of UX Architects, UX Designers, UI Developers and Social Scientists will help you get your applications to market and create experiences that work flawlessly in the most demanding conditions.