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Approach /

Everything Spectrum does, from scoping sessions to interface design to coding, is focused on meeting the needs of clients. Spectrum believes that a sound methodology is the key to delivering a superior product. The Spectrum Method is a structured, yet flexible development methodology grounded in a user-centric, business requirements-oriented philosophy. This approach is driven by up-front research and planning that guides all design and technology decisions. The result is an efficient, streamlined design and development process. This process leverages Spectrum’s design and technical development expertise, provides a robust framework for assessing client and customer issues, and ensures successful deployment of a solution that will meet the client’s business goals. Most importantly, the adaptability of the process allows us to work flexibly with internal client teams, external third-party vendors, and system integrators in whatever fashion is most supportive of the project’s success.

Spectrum employs a cross-disciplinary team who will work closely with the client’s internal project team, as well as other potential third-party vendors from project inception to launch and beyond. This collaborative approach means we only design sites and applications that are scalable, easily updated, and meet our clients’ business and user goals.

This core team will form the backbone of the Spectrum/client partnership, and work with the client to strategize and plan for the full platform design and development.

This process and related deliverables will be refined and adjusted as needed. Specific requirements and technology partners are solidified in the lead-up to the project kickoff.


Project Phases

In the Design phase, Spectrum will create a set of construction documents that fully define and describe client vision in both visual and information design formats. The goal is to eliminate surprises and provide low-cost rapid iteration on paper before costly engineering resources are fully engaged.

THERE ARE TYPICALLY FOUR COMPONENTS TO THIS PHASE:

  • Information Architecture
  • Requirements Specification
  • Technical Specifications
  • Visual Design

INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

Information Architecture at Spectrum incorporates both the logical structure of knowledge and the design of the user interface to create an intuitive and natural navigational system that allows users to easily access the desired information. This approach is user-centric and employs a layered and incremental development process based on established information design principles and clearly articulated best practices:

  • Identify the users.
  • Determine what features and functions will satisfy their needs.
  • Map their desired use of the site/application and corresponding outcomes.
  • Logically arrange the content and interactivity to maximize functionality for the greatest possible number of users.
  • Develop an interface that focuses on efficient site/application use and access to support the brand promise.

TOOLS USED DURING THE INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE PHASE INCLUDE:

PRODUCT ARCHITECTURE DIAGRAM

This is a visual mapping of features and functionality to discrete sections or locations within the application/site. Analogous to a “site map,” the Product Architecture Diagram focuses on user access to key content, features, and functions.

TASK FLOW DIAGRAM

These flow charts are derived from Spectrum’s understanding of end-user and client goals. They map personas against specific tasks or activities, and chart key sequences of user interactions with the product to ensure that the product is efficient, easy to use, and maps to the technical architecture. These task flow diagrams will help the Spectrum and client teams map and understand how a typical user will interact with the application/site.

SCREEN SCHEMATICS

These diagrams illustrate key screens and screen states while forming a visual inventory of screen content and components. They are derived from key decision and interaction points discovered in the Task Flow diagrams and the key functional areas shown in the Product Architecture Diagram.

Similar to “wireframe diagrams,” Screen Schematics are the last Information Architecture deliverable and form the basis for Visual Design comps. Detailed screen schematics are used by the Spectrum team to conduct usability tests. These tests ensure that the architectural decisions behind the schematics are as intuitive and usable as they are rich and engaging.

VISUAL DESIGN

Drawing from the Screen Schematics, branding, style guide, consumer research, and the input provided by client stakeholders, Spectrum develops visual design directions for client review and feedback. The client then selects a design direction for rounds of refinement and extension. Spectrum believes that iteration is the key to success, and will work closely with our clients to establish a visual vocabulary that personifies the brand and achieves business objectives. Once a final design direction is reached, the Spectrum team extends the chosen design across the entire project. Our creative professionals work in close collaboration with our engineers and other technical staff to ensure that the application/site design is optimized for speed, is easy to build, and easy to maintain. Spectrum project teams are tightly integrated, highly informed, and cross-trained in each other’s areas of expertise.

The Build Phase is focused on evolving the design work of the previous phase into production-ready assets and building out the platform. The creative team focuses on completion of the design extensions and asset production. The technology team focuses on building the back-end systems, implementing the functionality as detailed in the requirements, and technical specifications.

During the System Programming & Integration phase, Spectrum engineers develop the front-end templates that bring the online experience to life. They also work with the back-end integration developers to ensure a successful hand-off and implementation.

The Spectrum developers will test and fix application bugs throughout the development and Beta Testing process, ensuring that the application integrates seamlessly with all client systems. The code is tested on two levels: unit testing and system testing. Individual engineers are responsible for unit testing their code to find the majority of functional defects. System testing involves quality assurance engineers testing all aspects of the application. The goal of system testing is to ensure that the entire system functions properly.

The Spectrum team uses two open-source products for our code management and bug testing. SVN is used for source control. Since SVN was designed for large projects developed over the Internet with remote developers, it facilitates collaboration with external developers and development teams. The second product is Lighthouse, a web-based bug-tracking tool.

During this phase, Spectrum will also work with the client to conduct final acceptance testing. At the conclusion of the testing phase, the new app/site is released to production and monitored closely for a period of two weeks to ensure it performs as specified.

At this time, Spectrum will finalize all project documentation and deliver all application source code and related files.