The Deloitte Digital team excels at developing bespoke web applications to meet our clients' exact requirements.
15 years of experience in web based application development has given us a unique perspective towards quality and scalability.
The Deloitte Digital team follows the Agile web development model, an extremely efficient and powerful methodology which revolves around continuous interaction with the client. Due to the regular involvement and feedback of the customer, the application tends to be more error free, more requirement oriented, and more user friendly.
The secret to our success lies in the fact that we involve users in the project at a very early stage in the process, in order to determine requirements and tap into their knowledge about system goals and needs. The project team sets up brainstorming and fact-finding sessions with the following groups of users:
- Client users – the people in the organisation who will be operating the portal and are ultimately responsible for its success. The input of this group of users is fundamental for the design of the backend.
- Third parties – other people both inside and outside the organisation who have an interest in the system.
- End users – the people who will actually use the system to perform tasks. Involving end users is a fundamental part of the exercise since a successful website is one which is geared to its users’ needs and their technical abilities, not those of the developer who is creating the site. A wide gap often exists between the technical competence and expectations of users and developers and a failure to understand these differences could lead to a portal’s failure.
The Deloitte Digital team uses the information and feedback collected to classify the audience of the portal and identify their characteristics (eg language, age, reason for using the site) and information requirements. It will then be possible to work on the conceptual design, which involves formally defining the information requirements of the different users and their perspectives and planning how each different user will navigate through the website. A navigation track consisting of workflow diagrams is developed for each type of user identified. All the workflow diagrams are then analysed and used as a basis for the building of a navigational model for the entire site.
This conceptual design, including the navigational model defined, is then passed on to the design team to be implemented in the form of an attractive design that matches the information and usability requirements of all the different user classes and their associated perspectives.
Once the requirements are fully understood, the design process begins. The Deloitte Digital team uses a parallel design methodology, meaning that multiple designers independently evaluate the design requirements and propose design solutions. The different design proposals are discussed with all interested parties, and the best elements of all the proposals are selected and carried forward to the next stage of design while the rest is discarded. Design thus becomes an iterative process, with design prototypes being developed and tested and changes made on the basis of results. The process is repeated until the design prototype is suitably fine-tuned and all usability goals are achieved. The following steps describe the iterative process in further depth:
Step 1 – Sketches and scenarios
Deloitte Digital designers prepare a set of simple screen sketches presented in JPG format. Focus at this stage is on the design not the interface mechanics. These basic prototypes can be developed quickly without a large investment in time and cost. They can also be easily modified as part of the iterative design process. This type of prototype is essential to ensure that the users and the designers are on the same page and can be used to streamline requirements.
Step 2 – Workflow planning
At this stage the crude prototypes used in step 1 are developed further into sequences of screen layouts that reflect user interactions with the portal and the workflows of the site. The emphasis should be on overall screen flow, order and structure and not on details. A number of test users are involved in the testing of the clickable prototype. They are given tasks to complete and the design team observe their performance, measuring completion rates, duration for completion and writing down what usability issues occurred. The design team also elicits feedback via walk-throughs and think-aloud sessions. The main target at this stage is to identify the mental models and expectations of the different groups of users in order to plan an appropriate information architecture including navigation systems and workflows so as to create an intuitive and user-friendly site.
Step 3 – Interactive prototypes
At this stage the design prototypes are evolved further, giving a good indication of the finished design (also known as high fidelity prototypes). This is where the common webpage components and templates forming the brand identity of the portal are fine-tuned.
Once again a number of workshops are organised with different sets of users (client users, third parties and end-users) to get user feedback before making final direction, development, and design decisions.
It is the Deloitte Digital team’s experience that the adoption of such an iterative process speeds up development time considerably and also increases user satisfaction. It is very important to point out that the iterative design process does not end when the portal is launched. Once the site goes online the general public starts interacting with it and it is only then that it becomes possible to truly assess the success of the design exercise. Once the site is live and the feedback starts comes in, it is important to continue testing, evaluating and retesting in order to fine-tune the design further.
It is this attention to detail that has enabled Deloitte Digital to create a number of award-winning portals and web applications.