Go beyond cranking out code. Become an idea generator.
Does any of this sound familiar?
“A middleman is deciding what features belong in my product. When he tells me to jump, I just have to ask, ‘How high?’.”
“We’re always reacting to customer complaints. We put in a custom feature to satisfy one customer. It actually makes our product worse. Then another customer complains - louder.”
“What’s so special about another boutique software development agency? There are ten, just in our building! No wonder we have trouble keeping clients.”
“I wonder if I’m really about to ship an MVP that’s here today and replaced tomorrow.”
Is any of that you? Read on...
A large global company now makes big business decisions faster
This company needed to improve their intranet application’s navigation to accommodate new features and a very wide variety of users. After I proposed a range of simple changes, we created a navigation tree that not only allowed their users to find what they needed more successfully, but also with less trial and error.
“David was outstanding to work with. He is very well versed in the UX space, but not only on making good designs but understanding the context of who are the users, what are their needs, [and] what are the different tension points in serving different users.
“On top, he was super quick in turning around the work without compromising quality of his recommendations. I will be hiring him again, especially for my projects that are more challenging to solve.”
- a manager responsible for this web application
What if we fixed this?
You would help your clients determine their real needs. You would get away from order-taking and become your clients’ indispensable trusted partner, not a commodity.
Your products would retain users without filling your inbox with usability bugs. With better results for your clients, you could focus on the work you love instead of chasing new work all the time.
I helped a major county government reorganize their site
Kindred Technology Group, a design and development agency, launched a redesign for DeKalb County, Georgia, in fall 2016. The site has over 2,400 pages. By reorganizing their content, I gave them a solid foundation for the rest of their effort.
“Top Notch! David’s commitment and attention on this project was unparalleled. He helped us sort through 1000’s of pages of content to create an amazing product.”
- Kenley Obas, Co-Founder & CEO, Kindred Technology Group
How do we get you there?
I let your users around the world help your dev shop create a v1 (or future release) with staying power.
My full Strategy & Design projects involve two phases, Research & Design Strategy.
Research lasts about 3-5 weeks. I gather data about your audience via stakeholder interviews and either user interviews or surveys. Then I generate personas (typically 8-10) and recommend a primary audience.
Design Strategy involves several iterations, usually about 3. In each iteration, I generate ideas, sketch the ideas we select together, incorporate these ideas into a prototype, and test it with users. Depending on your team and needs, I may also do some visual design or just check in periodically to support development and launch.
DC Trails used the Research & Design Demo to
improve their reputation
“I worked with David on a mobile app project for about three months. He impressed me so much with his extensive knowledge of mobile UX, his strong work ethic and his professionalism that I decided to work with him exclusively on all UX-related projects going forward.
“I've worked with many UX professionals over the span of my career, but I've never worked with anyone as talented or reliable as David. One thing that sets David apart is the fact that he has a software development background. As a software developer myself, that meant that I didn't have to explain basic things like what a server is or what an API does and we could directly dive right into the product.
“David does a great job at balancing advocating for the user and keeping business goals front and center. If you're looking for someone who can come up with a great solution that will serve both business and user needs, David is your guy. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, David is kind and patient and fun to work with. I consider myself lucky to be able to work with him on an ongoing basis."
- Pietro Rea, founder, Sweetpea Mobile
Ready To Get The Most Out Of Your Product?
To offer Strategy & Design clients the highest possible level of service while maintaining quick turnarounds, I work actively for only one Strategy & Design client at a time. If you’re a good fit, please contact me for availability.
While I’d like to think I can do that with anyone, not everyone is a good fit for working with me. This service is a great fit for you if:
You want us to communicate openly and honestly.
You’re willing to do a research phase before beginning design.
You’re willing and able to begin implementing my recommendations.
You have an expensive design strategy or IA problem that requires great problem-solving.
You have more money than time or expertise and can commit 3-6 months for this project.
It’s not a good fit for you if:
You want to start design immediately without 3-5 weeks of upfront research.
You’re looking for the cheapest option.
Your spec can’t change, even if our research invalidates your biggest assumption.
These projects are a big commitment. To help them go as smoothly as possible, I now give my clients who order them a free copy of UX for Development Shops: Owner/Manager Edition. (When team licenses become available, I'll give you a team license with copies of the Team Member Edition for up to 8 of your developers at no extra charge.)
And to reduce risk, I offer a Satisfaction Guarantee. If you decide our project is not working out or you are not satisfied with my services, I will, at your option, either waive labor fees for the Research phase or current Design Strategy iteration, or accept a portion of those fees that reflect your level of satisfaction.
"I have some questions first..."
Why do you insist on research?
Market research shows you what people will buy but not how they will use it. User research is essential for uncovering the most effective design ideas. And, unlike consultants who only work 9-to-5, I can interview users located almost anywhere in the world.
If you have worked with a user researcher, I’ll need to review their deliverables. If they are sufficient, we can bypass most of the Research phase’s effort and cost. If not, I’ll have to do more user research.
Can I have a free quote?
We can work on the overall estimate and quote at the end of the Research phase. Before that, we would have to rely on assumptions that the Research phase can invalidate. If I know your budget range up front, I can scope my effort accordingly.
What happened to the visual design and code?
I focus on defining and solving the right problem. I can recommend visual designers and developers I know who have worked with several leading web properties.
How much work will this involve from me?
We should have a weekly status call. I’ll also need your help mostly at these points:
- Stakeholder interviews
- User interview or survey logistics
- Idea selection review
- Review of each design iteration
- Feedback on usability study findings
What if your ideas are too hard to implement?
Many designs are vague, unrealistic, and don’t account for edge cases. Fortunately, I entered this field from development. And I’m writing “the book” on digital strategy for developers.
I still aim to keep my design ideas possible within my clients’ frameworks. If an idea really isn’t feasible - or if another item runs way over estimate for implementation - I adjust the design to make it more feasible or trim the idea out of the design.
Can’t I just find a UI/UX designer on a bid site to do this for me for a fifth of your price?
If by a UI/UX designer you mean someone who…
- Understands your real business problem first
- Researches and models your actual and potential users (almost anywhere in the world!)
- Rigorously determines your best target audience
- Recommends a platform and design decisions based on user data, not preferences
- Determines why your users would switch to you or your competitors
- Avoids rework by keeping design fidelity low for as long as needed
- Keeps the product on the right track with usability studies
- Relates to developers in their language
- Guides the strategy of your product into future releases
… then people like that are probably hard to find there.
But I’m guessing that you’re meaning someone who will take a solution that you’ve already decided on, jump into Photoshop, and design it right away. That’s not what I offer.
What needs to happen before we can start?
- I’ll email you with a few quick questions.
- If we look like a good fit to work together, we’ll do an initial 20-minute phone call or Skype call to make sure.
- I’ll suggest a research option (user surveys or user interviews) based on what has worked for other projects like yours.
- We will agree to a start date.
- You’ll need to pay for the Research phase 100% upfront, or we may have to postpone the start date. Design Strategy phase payments are due at the beginning of each design iteration.
What happens after we start?
Here’s what I’ll do:
- Review your website and any existing artifacts.
- Learn about your users via surveys or interviews. I’ll need your help with getting people to participate.
- Create user personas, which focus on how people would use your product. I would determine possible target audiences for your product based on personas’ goals, percentage of the market, potential value for your business, and breadth of tasks.
- Generate design ideas and down-select them based on expected value to your users, value for your business, and technical feasibility. I’ll need your input.
- Create sketches and wireframes for our selected ideas. We will agree on lengths for these iterations at the beginning of Design Strategy.
- If you ordered a usability study, I will perform that study on the wireframes using 5 users from a panel and send you a summary of key findings. (Panel sites can accommodate NDAs and password protection.)
- Repeat steps 4-6 until we’re ready for development.
Who’s doing the project?
I’m David Parmelee, a business-minded digital strategy consultant based in the eastern United States. Previously a software developer, I help developers create web apps, websites, and mobile apps that balance the needs of users, businesspeople, and developers. My recent clients include a large global company, a mobile development studio, and a bootstrapped startup whose founder is technical.
Throughout a Strategy & Design project, I’ll be your point of contact. You’ll work directly and exclusively with me from start to finish.