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Growth Patterns: Building a foundation for expansion — Driving, or being driven, to grow in order to meet demand.
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Growth Patterns: Building a foundation for expansion — Driving, or being driven, to grow in order to meet demand.


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It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-person freelancer, a budding 5-10 person agency, or an established small to mid-sized company - you will always contend with the challenges of growth. This month, key …

It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-person freelancer, a budding 5-10 person agency, or an established small to mid-sized company - you will always contend with the challenges of growth. This month, key employees from Raleigh-based web shop Atlantic BT (ABT) will share their experiences on how to build and maintain a foundation for growth in light of pressures from increasing demand.

COO, Software Development Manager, and Creative Director will share some patterns that triggered growth, and how each handled them.

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  • 1. Welcome toAtlantic BT 1
  • 2. GrowthPatterns:Building a foundationfor expansion Driving, or being driven, to grow in order to meet demand. 2
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  • 18. 2011We Now Have 50 Employees Open hiring positions for another 5 (10%)We Have 2 New Dedicated Teams Copywriting Quality AssuranceExpanded Our Management Team to Accommodate Production Manager Sales Director HR/Recruiting Manager Software Dev Manager 18
  • 19. pattern: The Bottleneck 19
  • 20. pattern: S&M / Ying & yang 20
  • 21. pattern: Chicken & the egg 21
  • 22. pattern: feed the beast 22
  • 23. It’s a numbers gameItʼs risky... You have to consider the numbers.How will you meter the pace of your growth?Growth has impact across an organization Ripple EffectGrowth can be contained: Rate Changes Firing Clients Turning Down New BusinessGrowth should be deterministic Is it taking you where you want to go? 23
  • 24. Design thatscales Methods and best practices to grow gracefully. 24
  • 25. I am Eileen AllenSuper Mom, Photographer, Designer& Creative Director @ AtlanticBT @eileenallen 25
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  • 27. Drink the kool aidProcess... Weʼre talking about process?! (Allen Iversonʼs voice)You have to buy into your process, but donʼt let it handcuff you. BRIEF research ideas solution production product 27
  • 28. the setupThe days of starting your project on a blank Photoshop canvas aredone. It requires too much wasted time and energy. BRIEF research ideas 28
  • 29. Our creative arsenalWhether you are a team of one, a small shop looking to expand, or amassive force, you can benefit from thorough planning. Client Brief / Worksheet Creative Brief Idea Brief Co-Design StyleboardThis collection of “setup” methods is meant to help us do one thing...Think Before We Do. 29
  • 30. Client BriefThis is usually the first interaction a client has with our design team. It allows clients to share their hopes and dreams. The worksheet is meant to help clients self-evaluate, organize their thoughts, and share their preferences.    30
  • 31. Example QuestionHow involved do you want to be in the design process of your site? I trust your expertise and leave the design decisions up to you. I would like to have a say in the design of my site. I know exactly what I want and would like you to follow my instructions. Visit Atlantic BTʼs Actual Worksheet 31
  • 32. creative briefThis is NOT your grandmaʼs brief. Instead, we ask a series of fivequestions during the client kick off meeting. 32
  • 33. creative brief Define purpose. Why do you feel like you need a site? Define sales process. How do you communicate who you are to clients? Define the users. Who is the site for? Define the end user goal (for each class if more than one). What is the desired action? Define the look and feel. Confirmation of client brief (theme, colourway, risk factor) 33
  • 34. idea brief“An idea brief is a sentence, ortwo, that sums up the project andframes it as a problem statement.A question that needs an answer.” - Mark Boulton Source 34
  • 35. idea briefActual examples of our previous brief briefs include: This client needs to distinguish themselves from the competition by making a complex process easy for customers to understand. This client needs the site to reflect the innovation in their technology, communicate how they are ahead of the curve in their industry, and highlight their credibility. This client needs a site design that better reflects their reputation and attract high-end clientele. 35
  • 36. co-designCo-Design is a brainstorming session where the project teamcollaborates and share their perspective on the common goals. Use the idea brief to springboard into the co-design workshop.Co-Design can happen: You and a client You and another designer You and UX You and UX and marketing and PM You and all of the above The concept was adopted from Leah Buley, formerly of Adaptive Path. 36
  • 37. co-designThe benefits of co-design sessionsinclude: No one comes in empty handed. Helps to prioritize elements and features. We identify/solve the layout through ideation. Everyone has a voice, because all ideas are good ideas. Bada-bing: Wireframe! 37
  • 38. style boardItʼs like if a style guide and a mood board had a baby!Have you ever had a client: Be surprised by your design choices? Ever point out that you used the wrong kind of camo for the background of their military equipment catalog site?To prevent these surprises and potentially embarrassing mistakes,we start with style boards to help the client visualize our directionbefore we begin designing. 38
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  • 41. style boardThe key benefits of a style board include: Eliminates surprises. Designers are better prepared. Avoids designing in a vacuum. 41
  • 42. sharing is caring 42
  • 43. DevelopmentFundamentals Adventures in abnormal growth. 43
  • 44. I am daryl hemeonPipe Smoking Systems Astronaut &Manager of Programmers atAtlanticBT Developer for 12+ Years Mostly .Net Previously a Systems Consultant at Unum Favorite Droid App = RadioParadise @darylhemeon 44
  • 45. BOOM!Our development team has almost doubled in sizewithin the last two years. More Employees More Clients More Code More Bugs More Site Launches 45
  • 46. you can look backIn order to sustain growth, you mustexcel at the fundamentals. The Joel Test Fail Fast & Furious The Light is Green (Unit Testing) Low-Spark High Heeled Impersonation Diagnose like House MD Dont Listen to the Astronauts 46
  • 47. The Joel Test Do you use source control? Yes. Can you make a build in one step? Not Completely. Do you make daily builds? Working on it. Do you have a bug database? Yes. Do you fix bugs before you write new code? No. Do you have an up to date schedule? Yes. Do you have a spec? Sort of. Do programmers/designers have quiet working conditions? Yes, sometimes. Do you have the best tools money can buy? Yes. Do you have testers? Yes. Do new candidates write code during their interview? Yes. Do you do hallway usability testing? Yes. Source 47
  • 48. Fail Fast Part Unopublic static void ValidateObjectParameterNotNull(object parameter, string parameterName){ throw new ArguementNullException(string.Format("{0} cannot be null.",parameterName));} 48
  • 49. Fail Fast Part deux"Failing fast doesn’t just save us money. The cold reality is thatpeople don’t like working on failing projects. When a project is failing,people generally can smell it in the air. Employee engagement goesdown, turnover goes up, and things just generally get worse.The best thing to do — for your people, for your company — is tolearn to fail, and create a culture that learns from failure." - Aaron Erickson Source 49
  • 50. Test Driven Development Unit tests"Test is a verb meaning to evaluate. No software engineers releaseeven the tiniest change without testing, except the very confident andthe very sloppy...Although you may test your changes, testing changes is not thesame has having tests." - Kent Beck Read This Book Test Driven Development by Example 50
  • 51. Low-Fi Spark of High Heeled ImpersonationAdmin functionality on your site...Keep it Simple. Search for a User If (AppUser.IsInRole("Admin), Then Set a Cookie If Cookie Exists, Load User 51
  • 52. Diagnose like house Build a Diagnostics Page that is accessible by IT support so that they can help troubleshoot production issues. Dump your data as XML. Use built-in tracing features of Frameworks. 52
  • 53. Don’t Listen to the astronautsWhats Microsoft Live Mesh?Hmm, lets see..."Imagine all your devices—PCs, and soon Macs and mobile phones—working together to give you anywhere access to the informationyou care about."Wait a minute. Something smells fishy here. Isnt that exactly whatHailstorm was supposed to be? I smell an architecture astronaut. Source 53
  • 54. Deep gh ts "! by Daryl Hemeon 54
  • 55. in closing...Growth makes you look back at the fundamentals. Fail Fast Unit Testing User Impersonation Production Diagnostics Dont Listen to Astronauts Leaders Bring People Together 55
  • 56. THank You 56
  • 57. photo credits 57