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Managing Director

4 min read

Prototyping

Paper is a new research and design studio. One of the things that we champion is prototyping. Instead of newly minted perfect websites and applications, we prefer to think of digital as a messy ever changing environment where nothing is perfect and everything can be improved.

Prototyping reduces the risk of going live after months and months of hard work only to find out that what you’ve delivered isn’t right anyway, and having to go back to unpick the mistakes or paper over the cracks.

The benefit of prototyping is that you can get something live, in-front of customers, and gathering feedback quickly. This forms an ongoing and cyclical process of Build, Measure and Learn which involves real customers in the development of your services and products.

Build: Paper’s first prototype

Paper’s first prototype is our own website and we think that it would be unforgivable if we didn’t practice what we preach. So, our first iteration of the site only had two pages with rough-and-ready descriptions of who we are and what we do. Today we’re launching the second iteration just two weeks later. What can you achieve in two weeks?

Week 1: Measure and Learn

When we launched the first iteration of the Paper prototype we included a link to a survey (we used Hotjar for the survey) and we’ve’ got Google Analytics running on the site. We also started including a link to the site in our email conversations with clients and asked them for feedback too.

This resulted in three sources of feedback:

  1. Quantitative feedback on Google Analytics
  2. Quantitative feedback from the survey
  3. Qualitative feedback directly from clients

Although the feedback from each was quite small we were still able to identify common patterns and themes across the different sources. By comparing the feedback we identified issues and opportunities which we then broke down into individual tasks. Finally, as a team we prioritised these tasks and selected one of them to work on the following week. This first task was to create ‘clearer descriptions of our services’. Simple? Not really. This came with it’s own problem to solve.’

Week 2: Build (and start to Measure again)

The most common feedback we’ve had is that how we describe our services can be unclear. We agreed that they were too short and very fuzzy. To solve this problem we decided to test longer and more detailed service descriptions (along with rewording the services on the homepage). This was a great exercise but, predictably it led to a problem, the long service descriptions were now far too long. Which we tackled in two ways:

  1. We contacted Ellen Holcombe (Professional Word Person) and asked if she could help

Ellen did an amazing job, in just two days she had gained a full understanding of the brief, finished copy editing and condensing our service descriptions to a much more readable (and bearable) length.

  1. We created videos of the founders describing the services to camera

The idea for the videos came from an interview we had recently done with Sheffield Digital. When we did the interview the feedback was that when we described our services in person they made much more sense than on the website.

A photo of Mark, Jon and Cam filming the videos

The videos were rough and ready, filmed in the studio car park, and we did the editing, closed captions, intro music and credits ourselves. We will share the bloopers reel soon.

A nice thing about video is it allowed us to be a bit more relaxed, less formal, with our language. By doing them in this way we hadn’t invested more than two days effort to get them done. So if they aren’t right we can easily change them. But by getting them live we will know how to change them based on feedback from real customers.

Results

The videos are live. They are, like the website, prototypes. They aren’t perfect and they’re not meant to be. The goal is to get more feedback, keep improving, keep getting better. Likewise we would appreciate feedback on the written descriptions although with Ellen’s help I think they actually are near perfect.

Here are links to the four new service descriptions and videos:

Scoping & Planning

Research & Insight

Service Design

Digital Product Design

And

Here’s a link to our survey where you can help provide feedback for our next iteration.

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