5 Types of Projects that Require a Specialist Like Crux Collaborative
April 13, 2016
Let’s start this article about our expertise with a sample list of the projects we don’t take on here at Crux Collaborative. This list includes: marketing sites, brochureware, SEO, banner ads, branding, advertising, loyalty marketing, media, creative ideas that connect brands to consumers, and windows- we don’t do windows.
There are more than a few companies out there that can help if you’re looking for iconic ideas, clever banner ads, or window washing.
We’re specialists. We don’t hide it. In fact, it’s something we’re quite proud of.
Specialization is Tricky Business
One of the risks of specialization is that you’ll focus on an area that is too narrow to support your business. In order to thrive, businesses need a steady supply of clients who need their services. There simply aren’t enough people looking for novocaine-free dentistry to make a practice viable. And while you might be passionate about building websites for traveling clown troupes, you’ll need to make sure that there are enough clowns out there looking for a web presence before you cash in your 401k and set up shop. The point is— while it’s good to have a well-defined niche, overspecializing is not profitable and it’s embarrassing.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are generalists— these are businesses that offer a wide variety of loosely connected services with no real expertise. They hesitate to narrow their focus because specializing means declining projects when they aren’t a fit. Loath to turn away potential sources of revenue, generalists will say yes to almost anything- despite having little or no actual experience or expertise doing that kind of work.
While generalist firms are a good fit for some projects, things tend to wrong when they get in over their heads. Generalists are like gas station convenience stores. If you’re looking for a pack of gum, some milk, or a bag of chips, they are a perfectly appropriate option.
But, don’t be fooled by the sushi fridge at the gas station. Despite looking like a reasonably-priced version of the real thing, it is sensible to question the freshness, quality, and safety of raw fish sold alongside day-old hot dogs and rotting fruit.
We’ve talked in the past about how specialization benefits our staff and the quality of our work. In this article, we’re going to talk about our particular niche and hopefully help you determine if your project will benefit for our expertise.
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At Crux Collaborative, we are focused on user experience consulting for relegated industries. But what does that mean to you? Here’s the bottom line. If you are planning on taking on any of the five types of projects outlined below, you would be well served by having a conversation with us before you begin.
1. Organize and display complex sets of data in an intuitive and digestible manner
We can collaborate with you to understand and prioritize your audiences, define the information most relevant for each audience, and design an interface that enables your users to absorb information and intuitively take action.
We are familiar working with massive datasets and can help you to untangle the seemingly endless use cases and unravel all of the potential constraints.
Projects in this category are often digital products that provide or manage a business-to-business service. We’ve found that elevating the quality of the user interface is a fantastic way to gain competitive advantage over firms that offer essentially the same service.
2. Develop a consumer-facing application that handles high impact tasks
We work on portals that enable people to effortlessly manage their health, finances and plan for their future. These users are transferring money, they are calculating their diabetes risk, they are initiating their retirement— we develop experiences that enable everyday users to confidently and effectively use digital tools.
Sites like this are the workhorses of the Internet and they are rarely noticed when they provide a great experience. With a web application most of the feedback comes in the form of complaints. Rarely does someone write a glowing review about how fulfilling it was to easily change their investment allocations.
This is just fine with us. Great transactional online experiences should be transparent and it’s no accident that one of our guiding principles at Crux Collaborative is “results over recognition”.
3. Create a digital product from scratch
You have an idea or a concept for something that doesn’t yet exist. Perhaps it’s a smartphone app that will help improve the quality of life for those with chronic disease, a pricing tool that will promote savings in the healthcare industry, an application that helps law firms manage incoming leads (all products we’ve helped develop, incidentally).
This is a remarkably different strategy and approach from redesigning something that already exists and a cookie cutter process is not going to provide success in the end.
Contact us if you are looking for a consulting partner with whom you can work to define your strategy, develop a list of features, understands your users and design the optimal interface for delivering your product.
4. Learn about your users
We specialize in a number of different user research methodologies; including: usability research, audience interviews, and focus groups. We have a research facility on site and user research is a part of almost every project we work on.
There are plenty of “usability experts” out there who will provide cheaper research pricing. A question to ask yourself…”is understanding our customer behavior a category where we want to go with the cheapest option or the most effective option?”.
We will never be the lowest cost user research option available to you, but we are among the most experienced. When you need to go beyond the obvious observations that can be made simply by watching someone use your site and get to meaningful recommendations that can transform your business, it’s time to contact us.
5. Demo an application that is behind-a-login
You want to create an HTML prototype of that application so that sales people and potential consumers can observe the experience of the secure environment in the absence of an actual login.
Our experience designing complex behind-the-login applications makes us uniquely qualified to create demos (online and offline) of these experiences. Yes we can completely simulate a data rich environment no matter how complex it is.
For more information on secure site demos, check out this article we wrote Good for Business: A Custom Offline Demo of Your Secure Website.
There you have it— if you are doing one of these 5 things and you are looking for a firm that has proven experience delivering great user experiences, contact us first. We can help.
By Gregg Harrison
Gregg’s passion for all things digital started two decades ago as a project manager and has expanded over the years to include a focus on user experience consulting, client management, and operations.View Gregg's Bio