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UX Implementation with Crux Collaborative

By:
April 27, 2016

Our focus at Crux Collaborative is developing the best possible user experience design for a user interface.

But we don’t build anything in a vacuum.

The successful launch of the complex, data driven web applications that we design requires coordination amongst numerous stakeholder groups. Communication breakdowns cause problems when they show up anyplace in the client/consultancy relationship. In the kind of work we do here at Crux Collaborative, a lack of clarity or unclear expectations with our IT/ backend development partners can be especially damaging.

In this article we’ll share a few of the tactics that we use to ensure a close and productive partnership with IT departments and implementation teams…

In general, we start any project by learning the details of our client’s technical environment and the capabilities of their development team.

Based on these inputs, we work together to determine the deliverables that will enable the smoothest and most efficient implementation. We never dictate what the implementation team will get from us. Rather, we ask them to tell us how we can be most beneficial.  Some teams want wireframes and a style guide, others want a code-ready prototype— we are able to tailor our handoff to meet the needs our partners.

We write our front-end code to support specific technical environments by adhering to standards-based coding principals. This saves time and budget as the technical teams isn’t asked to crawl out of their skin and take on unplanned tasks. Whether your team uses an emerging frontend frameworks like AngularJS, established server-side solutions such as Sitecore, or even completely custom development environments, we create the production elements you need to kick start the back-end development.

When we create implementation code, we adhere to the following principals:

We remain platform agnostic.

We all have our favorite browsers and development platforms, but imposing those opinions in the code can have serious effects on its usefulness long term. While some CMS platforms demand proprietary methods for creating templates and building sites, keeping the mindset of “this needs to work in any kind of environment” is key. CMS platforms will come and go so we make sure the core of our code is not tied to one system. Our implementation UX code can traverse multiple platforms without having to be re-engineered.

We utilize UI/UX Pattern Libraries.

Building collections of reusable elements in the CSS can shave hours off of a typical UX implementation. We can begin building these libraries very early in the project and they can be expanded as new design patterns are identified. In our experience, custom UI libraries are more flexible as they have the same reusable component architecture along with behavioral elements custom to your specific needs. We can help you create and implement a powerful custom UI library for your website or application.

We always add comments.

Our code is wordy in a good way. Great code is full of comments. Just a few words describing how a particular bit of code is supposed to work can save our development partners countless hours on the implementation. We are careful to properly source the comment to distinguish it from the comments generated by many CMS platforms. When we hand-off code, expect details on the what and why within the CSS/JS.

We’ll provide detailed PSDs and supporting source graphics.

Our process for creating the design assets includes well organized Photoshop files that include: breakpoint gridlines, color palettes, navigation and interactive states, labeled layers, and other useful notes for implementing the designs.

We’ll provide an image asset strategy.

We have an Image asset strategy for naming, types, and dimension of all site images. This is especially important as Retina, 4K, 8K and other high-resolution display before more common, demanding multiple version of the same image to exist on the server.

We’ll be ready for questions.

No matter how good we are at generating code or documenting the UX, there will always be questions in production. We work closely with implementation teams throughout the course of the project– we cultivate working relationships with them that encourage collaboration and openness. We want our technical counterparts to reach out when unexpected use cases arise or if they need insight into our reasoning or approach. We plan to be involved in the project until it launches and beyond.

The need for user experience expertise doesn’t end when we deliver our last wireframe, PSD, or collections of front-end code. Once the application is using actual data in real-world scenarios, its vulnerabilities are exposed and we’ve learned over the years that no matter how good we are, we always find vulnerabilities. Building trust and developing ongoing relationships with development and IT teams enables us to maintain the integrity of the user experience throughout the implementation process.

Do you have questions about how we deliver our UX work to development teams? contact Crux Collaborative. We’ve been collaborating with development teams on UX implementation for over a decade and can answer any questions you may have.

By Mike McClure
Director of Design + Development

Mike has been involved with user experience work since the early nineties. His experience spans the gamut, from strategy to UX development and front-end coding, to accessibility and animated guided tour videos.

View Mike's Bio

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