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Execution without a game plan is reckless. We have a deep commitment to process which is ultimately what drives our success.

meet & greet

We listen and we learn

In the first step of the process, we gather as much information as we possibly can. At this point we’re learning about you, your team, and your product, service, or idea. We’re taking notes so fast, we’re burning through pencils. Seriously though, at this phase in the process, our team gets to learn everything about what you’re trying to do so we can put together a Statement of Work, which we refer to as a “SOW”.

Our SOWs are pretty detailed and once received, you will have a very clear understanding of the scope of the project, an expected cost estimation, and also a timeline for completion. However, we can’t stress this enough: these are ONLY estimates. We try to get as close as we possibly can but with any project that involves heavy digital strategy there is always the possibility for unknowns that can cause a project to delay out.

The SOW you will receive from the Mossio team includes all phases of the project. These phases will have items within them, often items will have sub items. As we said before, we try not to leave any stone unturned with our SOWs, so be prepared for a very detailed overview of the project’s task list.

So what happens next?

Ok so we’ve learned about your project and your team, and you know enough about us that you’d like to go on a second date! At this point in our journey to making great things with you, we will prepare a proposal and attach an SOW (which we previously talked about). The proposal is very straightforward, and most of it we will cover in our introductory talks, however we need something on paper and signed in the event you turn out to be a psycho (just kidding).

We send the proposal and SOW to you for a digital signature through HelloSign. This service does not require you to have an account, in fact, it’s easier than eating food, and we really mean that. Once you review the proposal and SOW, you will sign the agreement, and we’re set in stone to start working with your team on new and exciting adventures.

What is in the proposal?

Lovely question! Basically, we outline who the proposal is for, what the project entails, who we expect on our team will work on the project, what our rate is, billing schedule and some other legal jargon that protects both parties involved. It’s not intimidating and you won’t need an attorney to read it, we promise.

 

Rates and billing

Here’s what it’s going to cost

Our billing is just as straightforward as anything else we do. No, we don’t bill 50% upfront, we don’t bill based on milestones, we bill on a flat weekly rate based on the number of Mossio resources on the project. We do this for a simple reason of scalability. Mossio typically works with startups, and that means that they are constantly evolving. When our clients evolve their task load, the resources might need to change. With our weekly billing structure, it allows our team to conform to what the client needs.

Our rate is $4000 per week, per Mossio designer or developer. If you are not a mathematician, that equates to roughly $125 per hour at 8 hours a day for four days a week.  Why don’t we work five days a week? We will get to that later. We feel that our rate is pretty competitive with that of other agencies.  We don’t give discounts under any circumstance, so please don’t make it awkward by asking.

What about invoices, when do you send them?

We like to send our invoices at the end of the day on Friday each week.  We want to stay friends, so we expect our invoices to be paid promptly to ensure our team continues to work on your project.  Our invoices basically have a Net 15 pay schedule, but the earlier the payment, the better our relationship.

 

Discovery week

Let’s get this party started

Here’s where the fun begins we’re starting the project! There is quite a bit involved, we don’t just jump right into Photoshop, Illustrator, or Sketch. We really try to understand the pain points, goals and aspirations of any project we dive into. To make this happen we have a full discovery week with pretty much every single project that comes through our doors. Why? Because it’s vital we understand every aspect of the app or project, we essentially become part of your team. In order to launch this project successfully, we need to understand it.

Day One – Understand

We get our teams together, either in the same room or on a Google Hangout.  It’s pretty important to have key decision makers present during discovery week, so that the Mossio team is not going in the wrong direction. We hate being lost, so we want to make sure that does not happen.  We will start the day by introducing everyone around the table or in the hangout.  It’s always nice to get introductions out of the way because we will be best friends by the end of this.

Once we establish the teams and roles of the team members of both sides we will get into talking about the project. We want to hear an elevator pitch about your company.  Who you are, why your company benefits its customers, and as much information that you can unload on us.

Next, we will define a critical path.  A critical path will help us determine what aspects of the project to work on, in which order.  For example, if you have an application that we’re doing we would create critical points such as:

  1. User visits website
  2. User signs up for service
  3. User receives email to validate their address
  4. User logs into application
  5. User creates a new campaign
  6. User assigns campaign meters

… and so on and so fourth.

No matter what type of project you have, the critical path will be our digital compass for where we start and where we end.

Day Two – Outline

Now that we have a firm grasp of the project, everyone on the team is up to speed and we’ve defined the critical path, we can move onto outlining.  During this phase of discovery we collaborate together on paper sketches.  We try to get everyone involved in the paper sketches because we feel it’s vital for the Mossio team to get a glimpse inside our clients’ minds to see their vision.  The paper sketching phase allows us to do just that.  Typically, we will go through each touch point on the critical path and complete a timed paper sketch drill.  When we finish one critical point, we will review as a team, take notes, and move on to the next, until we’ve completed all of the points.

After paper sketching we take the notes that we have gathered from everyone and eliminate less factors.  These less factors are things that are not as important but still hold value to the end result.  The resulting higher value notes and assumptions will give us a great deal of knowledge when we hit the ground running in Photoshop.

The next part of day two will consist of storyboarding.  Storyboarding will take place if we are collaborating on an application either for web or mobile.  Storyboarding is essentially a group of drawings that we create together to visualize the user experience of an application.  It doesn’t have to be artist grade so don’t worry if you suck at drawing, it’s not important.  What is important is the information obtained through these storyboards.

Day Three – Converge

At this point, we’ve defined a good portion of the project.  We discovered who our target market is, how they act, or are anticipated to act, while interacting with the service, product, or voice we’re creating with you. Now it’s time to define assumptions.  Assumptions will allow us to build user testing models that either validate or dismiss those assumptions.

After defining assumptions, we then look for conflicts.  This is mostly geared towards UI and UX projects, however, it can trickle into branding and marketing.  How do we define conflicts?  Simple, we look at the storyboard that we created the previous day and we look for inconsistencies. Those conflicts will enable us as a team to come up with the best solution.  Sometimes, it’s combining the best of each into one.  We do this until we no longer have conflicts.  This process can also apply to branding.  For example, let’s say one team member sketches a logo just with typography and without a mark but another team member sketches a logo with a mark and no typography.  This shows conflict and inconsistency.

Day Four – Wireframes

During this phase of the discovery we, as a collaborative team, come up with some low-fi wireframes.  We are able to do this because of the information we gathered over the last few days of meetings.  We know you cussed us because of pulling you into all day meetings but it’s crucial for success and our results will show you why.

What does low-fi mean? It means that it does not have much detail, its main purpose is to generate ideas for layout and placement of things on the page.  This part of the process is pretty much only for websites and user interfaces.  Social media campaigns and branding projects will not need wireframes.

Day Five – User Testing

At last we can test the validity of our thoughts, notes, and efforts.  At this point, we will test actual users with interactive prototypes of the wireframes we created on day four of our discovery week.  These prototypes will have clickable areas and we will have prewritten tasks for users to complete within a specific amount of time.

During our user testing we have video and sound recording.  We also monitor mouse movement and clicks.  These tests will tell us if the user is confused or if they know exactly what they’re doing.

At the end of the day, we collect the data that we have from the user testing and we dive deep into the project the following week.  If our user testing validates or dismisses anything we learned in the discovery week, we will adjust accordingly in the coming weeks during the project.

Whew!

 

project planning

A goal without a plan is just a wish

We want to make sure that everyone is staying busy and the light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting brighter.  In order to do so, we need a plan. Mossio has one-on-one project planning meetings with our clients every Monday.  We review tasks in our project management system that we can feasibly complete by the end of our work week. We then prioritize those tasks, and move them over into their own list to show that we have them on our radar to complete that week.

As a process driven team, we also focus on simplicity.  We don’t add timelines to our tasks, because we don’t want to bloat our project management system up with things that are redundant.  We move cards over in Trello that we can get done that week so there is no need to add due dates.  We will deliver those items before EOD on that Thursday. Please keep in mind that there are unknowns that could delay projects in the “This Week” column from being completed but we will address those daily should they arise.

tools of the trade

How we get the job done is sweet technology

The Mossio team uses nothing but the best when it comes to our tools to get the job done. We have listed the tools we use for every single project and why we use them. Our clients love our transparency and our tools are an extension of that.

Slack

If you haven’t heard of Slack, we suggest you get out of the hole you’ve been living in.  No, we’re kidding, but seriously – Slack is the best chat tool for teams that need to collaborate to make awesome things. It’s easy and fun, and you can even use GIFs which make everyone’s day brighter.

We provide a Slack channel for every single client.  We send out invites to your team members who will be involved in the project so they have a way to communicate with us.  Communication is important, but we’d rather stay clear from email after we start working on the project.

 

Trello

We use a simple tool called Trello to keep our task list organized and to give you an overview of where we are on the project.  We have columns setup in Trello to define where certain tasks are along the road.  For example: as we mentioned earlier we have a column called “This Week”.  Inside that column, there are cards (tasks) that we plan to get done that week.  When we are working on a specific task, our team will move the task over to the “In Design” or “In Development” card.  Trello gives you a clear view of what our team is working on, what is completed, what needs review, and what is left, at any given time.

Another really cool thing about Trello is that anytime a task has activity on it, it will automatically update the Slack channel to let everyone know what was done.  This way we can avoid hand holding.  Even though we really like you, I am sure you don’t want to hold our hand nonstop.

Invision

When we need comments on wireframes, color comps, brand assets, or anything else digital, we will send it through Invision.  We use Invision to collect important feedback from our clients.  It’s a really awesome app that allows users to comment directly on the digital asset so there is no guessing where you or your team have issues with certain design elements.

We create an InVision board for every single client, and invite your team members that will be involved in the feedback and approval process of designs.  It’s a super simple app but it’s extremely valuable in the race for the end result.

meeting schedule

The evil necessary

We admit, we hate meetings too.  However, they are vital in the course of our time together to get to a final product.  Let’s talk a bit about our meetings and what they entail.

First, we have daily standups with our clients.  Not only do we love to see our clients’ beautiful faces, we need to let them know a few things everyday about the project. Daily standups are generally at the same time every day.  We will figure out a time together during our kickoff call.  We have standup meetings through Google Hangouts, and we will send you an invite for this so you can mark it on your calendar.

During our daily standups, we go around the room on the Mossio side and each team member will discuss:

  1. What they worked on yesterday.  Tasks they were able to complete
  2. What they plan to work on and complete on that current day
  3. If they have any blockers that are getting in their way of getting something done

These standups should last a total of 10 minutes or less.

Every Thursday we have what we call a project retrospective.  This meeting will generally last about 20 to 30 minutes.  It’s a meeting that we have at the end of each week to talk about the project in general.  Its highs and its lows, and what actions can be done to prevent any lows.

Our retrospectives are generally filled out prior to the meeting on a Google spreadsheet. We ask that both teams are involved in this document so that everyone is on the same page.

Designing

It’s what we do, and here is how we do it

While our designers are on projects, they are designing for that client 8 hours a day 4 days a week.  Mossio works on a 4 day work week, Monday through Thursday.  During this time we have a process we follow, just like everything else.

Wireframes, drawing and sketches

Wireframes, drawings and whiteboarding typically come first to ensure we’re going in the right direction with your project.  No matter if it’s a full blown user interface or user experience this is a way to quickly iterate our ideas.

Once we have wireframes, drawings, and sketches that need review, we will upload these to Invision to get your feedback.  If there are modifications to be made, we will complete those at this point.

Only after initial wireframes, drawings, and sketches have been approved will the Mossio team move onto color prototypes.

Color Prototypes

After we’ve had the approval on the initial direction, our team gets their feet wet in the most fun ways with Photoshop, Illustrator, or Sketch. Most of our team typically works in Sketch but we’re well versed in other applications.

The color prototype phase follows the same pattern of approval.  Once we are done with a particular design, we will upload it to Invision for feedback.

Only after the color prototypes have been approved by your team, will the Mossio team move onto development if that is a part of our project.

Development

Code should have a process too

We feel that code should be as elegant as a design.  Code that is clean is easier to update and maintain, and it’s less expensive. Mossio follows very strict code guidelines and internal review procedures to ensure we’re not passing poorly written code to our clients.

Mossio uses Github to store our code, and we extensively review code in Pull Requests before merging to any master branch or pushing to a staging or production environment.

 

Conclusion

Let’s start making things together

Whew, that was a lot.  We hope it gave you some serious insight as to how we handle things with clients on a day-to-day basis.  We hope to work with you on your next project whether it’s UI, UX, branding, marketing or anything in between.  Like always if you have any questions, please get in touch with us at

makethings@mossio.co

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