Welcome to Round 1: Creative, Strike That! Creative Check-In

Gordon  McNee

February 20, 2015

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That was how I introduced my last creative presentation. Let me explain.

Having worked in the digital experience world for the past decade (and a bit), I've not seen as many changes in the "creative process" as I’m seeing today. Loosely, the creative process has traditionally followed a waterfall approach, which usually starts with the strategy team exploring what the client needs from a business standpoint. They then hand off their findings to the user experience team who interprets them and creates wireframes that are then handed off to the visual creative team. There's more “handing off” than an Olympic relay race.

That was then.

Today I'm seeing a major shift towards the “agile” approach to projects. I have to admit that initially I did everything possible to thwart the agile approach as it doesn’t give the “visual creatives” nearly enough time or information to produce the best work possible. And I strongly believe that, in its purest form, it never will.

But luckily there are options beyond pure agile.

At Extractable we’re using a modified agile approach. Instead of the client seeing the first conceptualization of the site as a creative comp with the strategy and content presented simultaneously (i.e., agile approach), Extractable uses a slight waterfall approach. This gives teams time to gather enough information and/or create enough assets to hand off to the next discipline. As the project moves forward with user flows, content and designs get more locked down, which enables more overlapping and more developer involvement. This allows us to leverage the advantages of the agile iterative process without the accompanying level of risk. Feedback and changes can be incorporated in small manageable batches rather than having to retrofit an entire experience after it's in development.

And the best part is:

Although there is a waterfall process here at Extractable, it is extremely redacted. As a result, the process fosters an environment where teams can effectively collaborate to deliver an initial creative presentation that is highly evolved. A key collaborator in this process is the client-in fact, they're potentially the most important contributor. After all, the client knows his/her business better than anyone else (usually). That's why our initial creative presentations are more akin to a workshop. In this way, we engage the client in the creative process and this collaborative environment leads to more honest and timely feedback. Having more fluid creative check-ins is the antithesis to “big reveals” where the Extractable team goes off and works for two to three weeks and then returns with finger crossed that the client is happy with the results.

This is just a small example of the changes that are happening. Along with new presentation and prototyping tools, technology is also streamlining the process and further narrowing the gap between creative designs and developed product. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about our process.