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January 15, 2020

Finding the right development partner for your UI/UX project

As an established UI/UX design agency with well-established client relationships and a sterling industry reputation, you also understand that your continued success depends on delivering a streamlined, intuitive experience to end users whose expectations for user interfaces are higher than ever. So when you encounter a special design challenge, a complex product update, or even an opportunity to move into an unfamiliar new domain, it may be time to look for a partner who can provide more hard-core engineering and development support.

But how do you choose one? Experience is essential, of course, but you know that not all experience is equally valuable. You are looking for a firm with the right kind of experience, with long-tenured clients and an industry reputation of their own. You see yourself as more than just another vendor. You are in the trenches with your clients: their challenges are your challenges. You deserve partners who see you the same way.

As with any partnership with a software developer, you must evaluate their experience at a level deeper than just their total years in the business. And with UI/UX design challenges in particular, it is essential to find a partner with a proven track record of navigating complex projects with your end users in mind, not just for the final product but throughout the development process. This post will provide some guidelines for evaluating potential development partners specifically with UI/UX design projects in mind.

Software Developer Qualifications: Finding the Right Partner

Of course, raw experience and expertise are vital. They are the primary way to evaluate the baseline of “hard skills” you look for in any potential partner. There are two key measures of experience you should consider for every potential developer:

  • Years of Experience: This involves more than just the number of years they’ve been in business. How long have they been concepting, prototyping and developing in your preferred tech stack (e.g., Microsoft .NET, Java, mobile web, mobile app, etc.)? Are they a niche firm that excels in a few specialized domains, or do they cover a broader range, perhaps with a bit less depth? Depending on the scope of your project, either one may be what you need, though of course, you’ll want to be wary of kitchen-sink firms who can’t provide the depth your product demands.
  • Tenure of Key Clients: Just as important as the amount of experience, what do their clients say about their commitment to quality? Do they stay engaged with support and new projects after the initial project has been delivered? Do they seem to view client relationships as sustained partnerships rather than one-time transactions? A little digging can tell you a lot about whether you’re dealing with a potential partner or just another vendor.

So, experience should be the baseline. But if you want to do more than maintain your reputation–if you want to take your current clients’ experience to the next level and expand your foundations for future growth–these “soft skills” will help you sift through the qualified developers to find the right developer:

  • An organized, user-focused approach to product development. Especially if you are upgrading or replacing an existing product, you understand how critical it is to provide your clients with continuity and reliability throughout the design process. The right developer will be sensitive to the needs of your current clients’ end users and creative in their approach to phasing in new features with minimal disruption. It’s important to remember that technical expertise in UI/UX problems and effective project management are not the same thing. When user experience is at stake, you need someone with both.
  • Passion that matches your own. Even in the development world, not everyone geeks out over UI/UX design problems like we do. Find someone who approaches your design challenges with the same enthusiasm as you. Does their website appear well-designed? What about the websites of the clients have they served? Do they meet your standards for design quality?
  • A concern for relationships and reputation, not just dollars and cents. A firm worth partnering with will take the long view of your project, not just because of their passion for the work, but also because they understand that their success as a company depends on the experience of their clients and their users over the whole life cycle of the product.
  • A vision for your future, in addition to a command of your current challenges. Finding workable solutions to your most urgent problems is essential, but a truly excellent developer has the creativity and industry savvy to see opportunities for growth in your product or platform.

How an Experienced Product Development Team Helped a UI/UX Agency Build for the Future

We recently had the privilege of working with a world leader in UI/UX design for logistics, business intelligence, transportation management systems (TMS for short), and supply chain management. They provide a vital operational tool for clients all over the world, which demands reliability and continuity for users, with high stakes for disruption. Over time, this demand led to a fragmented legacy TMS codebase, with one generation of script layered over another. They needed to modernize, but they couldn’t risk disrupting operations for their clients and risking damage to those relationships. And they also needed to balance continuity for existing clients with the demand for a dynamic and powerful product for new and existing customers alike. They needed the right kind of developer support: not just the raw experience and expertise, but also proven project management skills, a passion for UI/UX design, a concern for their client relationships as well as their own, and a vision for their future.

In Clear Function, they found what they were looking for. Understanding the value of an effective product roadmap, CF phased the upgrade to be minimally disruptive to the firm’s current clients. And we partnered with a trusted design team to update the user interface without a total recode. We then took on the major coding upgrades in a systematic, collaborative way. The end result was a reskinned TMS that was mobile-friendly, worked well with modern browsers, and even had some new bells and whistles thrown in. And it was all rewritten in a uniform, upgraded JavaScript framework, laying the groundwork for smoother upgrades in the future. Most importantly, the client was able to provide this vastly improved user experience without the excessive delays and frustrations that would have put their customer relationships at risk.

If, like our clients, you thrive on delivering superior websites, digital products, and experiences people love; if you work side by side with your clients as their partners; if you are laying the groundwork for products and relationships to last years, even decades into the future, you need more than a contractor. You need a partner who shares your passion for creating excellent user experiences, who sees your reputation as an extension of their own, and who has the vision to help you see opportunities for growth you didn’t know were there. These “soft skills,” combined with decades of experience and a long list of happy clients, are what Clear Function offers to a UI/UX design agency looking to preserve and expand on its legacy. Your own legacy deserves nothing less.

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