Zya struggled with stressed staff that worked frantically but couldn't seem to get ahead
Identifying then addressing gaps in the design cycle made production more efficient
Gathering consensus around design tenets united people with common goals
A s startups grow, more organization is often useful. In Music Mastermind's case, employees had become stressed moving from one thing to another and never reaching completion they were proud of. As we transitioned from a PC version to building an iOS version, I looked into improvements.
First, I went back to basics and discussed the design cycle with people. The company really hadn't been following a formal method, which left people feeling like they just put out fires constantly. As well, there were a couple phases that had been overlooked: 1) there was no testing (except executive evaluation), and 2) prototypes weren't being used well.
Printing posters of the Design Cycle promoted and reinforced considering each step. First, I clarified what a proven design cycle should include, and printing posters helped keep it top of mind. People on different teams could refer to it and easily recognize steps that were being overlooked.
I also had discussions with stakeholders about why Zya existed, and what it was at its core. I turned these discussions into Design Tenets. Once they were polished and agreed upon, people went from being about 30% on the same page to basically being of one mind.
Data-based decisions reduce risk and increase confidence
W e instituted regular testing. Proposed features could be presented in low fidelity (e.g. paper prototypes), and as features were developed, kids could use a build right on the target device. We learned a great deal about which of our assumptions had been wrong (surprise!) as well as right. Reports to executives helped them evaluate in the context of the target demographic.
Any time a lot of people are involved in decisions, the push and pull of emotions and opinions can slow development, particularly on hot button issues. Below, you'll see a survey that helped us understand what staff thought a progress map should look and behave like, before designing it. When everyone is involved, they feel more invested. Also, art tests helped us understand how the general public interpreted potential alternatives. It's easy to get too close to issues, and objective outside eyes help. In all cases, having data reduced risk and redevelopment while increasing consensus.