Any digital area employees spend time doing their work. Super simple right? Well, the first word is where things start to get complicated. "Any" opens up a lot of options…we're talking intranets, extranets, collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, Skype, Planner, Yammer, Slack, and any part of the Office 365 suite including email. Learn more in our blog.
Webster's definition: a website serving as a guide or point of entry to the World Wide Web and usually including a search engine or a collection of links to other sites arranged especially by topic
PixelMill's definition: Launching point or gateway for employees to access their communication and collaboration tools. Portals are required for organizations utilizing multiple platforms and tools that require an efficient way to guide employees to their needs. A Portal could include an intranet.
Webster's Definition: a network operating like the World Wide Web but having access restricted to a limited group of authorized users (such as employees of a company)
PixelMill's definition: an internal digital area for employee-related information and/or work tasks, typically on a single platform (i.e. SharePoint)
Webster's Definition: a network (as of a company) similar to an intranet that also allows access by certain others (such as customers or suppliers)
PixelMill's definition: an internal digital area for employee and/or external employee-related information and/or work tasks, typically on one platform (i.e. SharePoint)
Business Analysis is essential to creating a strong foundation for your project. PixelMill works with you to define the unique needs of your organization by establishing short-term and long-term goals for your project. We identify key functional requirements and draft a design and development strategy through a combination of user and stakeholder interviews, surveys, current site analysis, card sorting, usability tests, and more. PixelMill generates a tailored roadmap that includes Information Architecture with content storage and categorization strategies, as well as Site Architecture.
At the end of this stage, PixelMill will deliver your roadmap that's in-line with your requirements, budget, and timeline. Our Business Analysts will advocate for you in all stages of the project while acting as a liaison to the design and development teams building your solution. This ensures that the project addresses your company’s unique functional needs and requirements.
We perform user interviews to gather information from users at all levels—from stakeholders to admin assistants—about their day-to-day work issues, how they communicate internally and externally, and what weaknesses they are currently experiencing that could be addressed with our solution. User interviews are often held in a group setting with similar users and are typically conducted remotely as more of our clients are spread throughout the world. In some cases, we may opt for online surveys to perform user interviews depending on the client and project requirements.
Why this step is essential: PixelMill will pinpoint productivity issues and opportunities for improvement which will save your employees and your company valuable time in the long run. There's also a direct correlation to user adoption when users are given the opportunity to participate in the process and have their voice heard.
Card sorting is used to help evaluate the information architecture of a site. Users organize topics into categories that make sense to them and this can be used to create groups of similar information. The exercise of card sorting itself can be done in several different ways including the use of actual physical cards or through the use of an online card sorting program. Results from the card sorting will be used to create a sound structure for the solution.
Why this step is essential: Card sorting is important especially when current users report having difficulty finding information. The results of the card sorting are used to inform wireframe decisions and give insight on the kinds of information that should be included on pages.
During this step, PixelMill will work with you to identify and define the strengths and opportunities in design and functionality of your current site. We will also use this time to understand the structure and configuration of your site and work with you to plan and document suggested improvements to your back-end systems to improve efficiency.
Why this step is essential: We identify areas of your site that can be reused or re-purposed—which saves your budget—and we will work with you to uncover specific areas that need improvement.
The Business Requirement Document (BRD) summarizes key takeaways from the user interviews and site analysis. It also identifies and addresses the business functional areas and requirements within your organization. Most projects will have anywhere from 4-15 business requirements. PixelMill will suggest broad solutions within the BRD. These solutions are often high-level suggestions that can change by the time the project is in the design and functional requirements stage. Business requirements themselves should not alter and should be used as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the project through all stages. The Business Analyst uses these KPIs when guiding project decisions, ensuring they remain aligned with the defined business requirements.
Why this step is essential: We define KPIs, which gives us a straightforward way to measure the project and ensures that all parties remain focused on the important goals.
The Functional Requirements Document (FRD) is the roadmap for the development and implementation stage. It describes the functionality outlined in the wireframes. The FRD gives valuable insight for both project champions as well as IT developers. While the document does not provide detailed information on how we create/write the scripts or code, it does describe the expected behavior and how PixelMill anticipates developing for that expected behavior.
It's important to note that PixelMill creates the FRD in conjunction with the wireframing process. While we're preparing the document, we take into account the platform information architecture, defining custom content types, lists, and fields for your organization to review. During the creation of the FRD, the Business Analyst will meet with your stakeholders ensuring that we fully understand the expected functionality of the site. During these meetings, the business requirements outlined in the Business Requirements Document will be cross-referenced with the Functional Requirements Document to confirm that the proposed solution aligns.
Why this step is essential: The Functional Requirements Document outlines the scope of the project for the development stage. It guides the PixelMill delivery team, establishing a standard that your organization can hold the project to for expected functionality.
Information Architecture is the process of creating the structure of a site. It may include site maps, navigation, metadata anything related to the site's structure. A typical IA document for PixelMill is a spreadsheet that includes; site fields, content types, lists, page layouts, taxonomy, possibly image renditions, and more.
Why this step is essential: The Information Architecture Document is how detailed information about the solution is conveyed to whomever is doing the development of the site.
The term “UI” means User Interface. It consists of the visual elements of an experience that supports a user when they’re interacting with the product or service. For example, the interface of your car consists of buttons on your dashboard, the radio player, the air conditioning controls—these elements all support your experience of driving your car. In the digital world, some examples of visual elements are buttons, checkboxes, icons, notifications, and navigation menus. These visual indicators act as a common communicative language that tells us how to use a product or service. For a full run down on the difference between UI and UX, check out our blog post on the subject.
“UX” stands for User Experience. It's the feeling or the experience someone (User) gets when interacting with a product or service. UX is the process someone goes through in discovering a product, the actions he or she takes in interacting with the product, perceptions plus emotions that come about interacting with the product, and the overall impression of the experience as a whole.
Our UI/UX designers will review the corporate branding style guide provided to PixelMill and incorporate this into the site's style guide. This review of your Corporate Branding Guidelines will ensure that your site follows a consistent look and feel that it adheres to your corporate brand.
Why this step is essential: Implementing your guide helps create familiarity for users which contributes to greater adoption of your solution.
Mood or Style boards are a collection of example sites, features, imagery, and colors. Our PixelMill UI/UX designers gather these assets that eventually will evolve into a style guide for your solution. Mood boards allow us to experiment with a look without investing too much time in an unsuccessful direction.
Wireframes are a simplified, black and white representation of the proposed site’s layout that frame the placement of features and elements (items defined in the Discovery stage). It serves the same benefit as an architectural blueprint, focusing on the foundational features before adding the creative elements.
Wireframes’ main purpose is to:
- Define the structure of your site
- Outline the layout of your site
- Delineate the navigation of your site
- Assign content hierarchy and priority
- Serve as a reference point for functional specifications
Why this step is essential: Wireframes play a critical role in the project process, saving you time, energy, and money. It’s a quick and straightforward way for your stakeholders to evaluate the site structure and design, provide feedback early in the process making the design process more efficient. Branding aspects of the project are not included in wireframes to ensure that the focus is on the functionality and layout.
Wireframing fosters communication between Clients, Business Analysts, UI/UX Designers, and Developers ensuring that everyone is on the same page and mindful of the features and how they’re expected to function.
Bypassing wireframes would delay valuable feedback. Making changes to a fully branded mockup instead of simplified wireframes could potentially increase the cost of the project.
The end-user experience is re-validated with an interactive non-code prototype using InVision (a collaborative functional prototyping tool). Prototypes provide an interactive example of the mockup which helps your stakeholders and end users understand the interactions between the designed elements that a static wireframe or mockup cannot demonstrate. Along with the user-friendly interactions and functionality, the prototype allows your organization and PixelMill to assess the overall look and feel of your solution. Prototypes allow your team to provide feedback so that PixelMill can iteratively incorporate changes. By carefully creating a UI/UX prototype, users and stakeholders can test user experience to assess site usability and determine additional features.
Why this step is essential: Prototyping allows project stakeholders and end-users to see how the final solution will look and behave early on. PixelMill encourages feedback from stakeholders and end-users while using the interactive prototype to ensure the solution is on track.