SoBold are delighted to announce that they have been awarded the world’s most recognised Quality Management System Standard, ISO 9001.
SoBold have worked incredibly hard over the past few years to set and follow processes and procedures as a company that ensure they are providing quality work to their clients.
As the number of enterprise clients grows, SoBold’s ISO 9001 certification will be able to give their clients the assurances they need around SoBold’s consistency and quality services in the work they produce.
ISO 9001 is one of the most commonly used management system across the world and SoBold believes this is going to open up considerably more opportunities with winning tenders and contracts to ensure SoBold continues to be one of the leading WordPress Website Design and Development Agencies in the UK.
As SoBold continue to scale as a business, the need for efficiency has never been greater. It is absolutely essential that all internal communication works to the same processes and agenda and the ISO 9001 certification allows this to be possible.
In order to achieve our ISO 9001 certification, SoBold worked closely with QMS International, who provide expert consultancy to businesses looking to achieve their certification. QMS have a team of over 50 consultants and auditors and they ensure the experience they provide is streamlined and uncomplicated.
SoBold Technical Director, Sam Phillips said:
We are delighted to have been issued with our ISO 9001 certification, recognising our commitment to quality. Over the past 12 months we’ve spent a great deal of time improving and documenting our internal processes to help streamline delivery of projects and ensure we continue to deliver on the high standards we set for ourselves. Achieving this certification is a reflection of all this work.
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- Quality Assurance Testing
- Migration and Launch.
- Website Data
- Target Audience
- Industry Landscape
- Your target audience now has a shorter attention span, and less patience when browsing websites and services online
- Your target audience also has more choice of options than ever before when choosing who to buy from.
- Design look and feel
- Structure and navigation
- Features and functionality
- User experience
- Content and layout
- Speed and performance
- And anything else relevant to your project.
- You risk going through a long, expensive discovery and definition exercise that you could’ve done yourself internally for no cost.
- You risk being given a quote that’s too expensive, or a project timeline that’s longer than necessary.
- You risk receiving a service from the agency that doesn’t align with your request or meet your expectations. In turn, you’ll then have to spend even more time and money on a new project to get your original idea developed.
- How will you be backing up the site’s data?
- What level of data encryption do you need?
- How will users’ personal details be stored and protected?
- Will you have two-factor authentication?
- What password recovery process will there be for users?
- Brainstorming and ideation
- Assistance in research and information-gathering
- Writing copy
- Writing code
- Image and video creation
- Data analysis
- Automating manual processes.
- GPT-4 was released as an upgrade to Chat GPT. GPT-4 can understand images, process 25,000 words in one go, earn a top 10% score on complex exams, and even demonstrate some advanced reasoning capabilities.
- Adobe released Firefly, which is a programme with a range of new generative AI features. It can create outstanding new content using simple language, with almost-unlimited creative options like turning 3D compositions into photorealistic images and automating advanced video editing processes.
- GitHub launched CoPilotX, which can supposedly boost coding speed by up to 55%. CoPilotX has similar features to Chat GPT, but will be used by software engineers and developers to boost productivity and time-to-market.
- And, just last week, Stability AI released its Stable Diffusion XL model, offering photorealism through an intricate editing interface. It’s reportedly built with around 2.3 billion parameters.
18 April, 2023
Exploring the End-to-End Process of Web Design
In this article, we’ll outline the end-to-end steps of what takes place in a thorough user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) web design process and discuss what modern web design requires to be successful.
You may have read our in-depth guide to creating a brief for a web design and development project. A brief can be used to capture all your ideas and requirements before discussing your project with any web design and development agencies.
Once you’ve completed your brief, and evaluated your options for agency partners, you’ll be ready to launch into your website project.
An end-to-end website project is typically organised into phases, which will usually be structured as follows:
We’ve provided a detailed breakdown of these phases in a recent series of articles. This series is intended to give you a clear understanding of the full end-to-end process involved when working with an agency to design and develop a website. This will help you remove any apprehension heading into this kind of project and set you up for success.
The Current State of Web Design
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”Steve Jobs, Co-Founder and former CEO of Apple.
While web design does focus on the visual aspects of the site, there’s a lot more to it than just the aesthetic elements like colour schemes and typography.
Web design is a complex blend of branding, user experience (UX) design, user interface (UI) design, graphic design, content creation, layout and structure, accessibility, and much more.
The design of your website needs to be visually attractive but, more importantly, it also needs to be simple and easy-to-use. Your website needs to find the perfect balance between supporting your strategic objectives and serving your clients with a seamless experience. Of course, that’s much easier said than done, which is why it’s so important to find an experienced partner you can trust to guide you through the process.
Outlining the Web Design Process
Phase 1 – Research and Planning
The phase that underpins EVERYTHING!
A good agency will have absorbed everything in your project brief. They should also have worked hard to understand your perspective and your requirements from your website, before you’ve even agreed to work together.
Once you’re preparing to launch the project, the research and planning phase will then go beyond that initial information gathering exercise.
The objective of this phase is to define the full scope of the website, including its design, its features and functionality, its content, and everything else involved.
Your site will be discussed in extensive detail, and then research will be conducted into some key areas that will inform your design and development, such as:
Whether you’re making small updates to an existing design or completely rebranding your business, it’s equally important to use this research to inform every decision you make. That’s because every element of your site’s design must be made to support your business goals and serve your target audience with a great user experience (UX).
This research and planning phase is essential in enabling you and your agency partner to do that.
Phase 2 – Visual Exploration
This exploratory phase involves defining the most appropriate and effective visual direction to take with your site.
The main tool used to help determine the right visual identity for your website is a set of mood boards. These are a visual compilation of different options for colour, typography, structure, images, and other visual components that are used to tell your brand’s story through your website’s design.
A good agency partner will usually present around three mood boards to help shape the direction, then collaborate with you to narrow it down to one final version.
Visual exploration, like most processes within web design and development, will be collaborative and iterative. You’ll be presented with ideas by your agency partner, then given the chance to provide feedback across several rounds of revisions.
Phase 3 – User Experience (UX) Design
The UX design process is the phase in which you work with your agency’s UX specialist to create a blueprint of the website functionality.
This involves creating wireframes (either low-fidelity or high fidelity) that help you visualise the design and outline your website visitors’ flow through the pages into your main calls-to-action. This is the way the website’s design works strategically to drive outcomes that align with your business goals.
This phase takes place before working on the site’s visual design to ensure the two separate aspects complement each other.
Phase 4 – User Interface (UI) Design
From there, your user interface (UI) will be designed. The styles, fonts, and look and feel of the site from the mood boards will be applied to the wireframes.
Your agency will likely present you with a design for your homepage before moving on to the rest of the site. This will typically be done on a desktop screen size, but it can be done on mobile if you want to take a mobile-first approach. Once this is complete, it will then be designed across the relevant breakpoints.
After completing this process, your agency partner will be ready to enter into developing your website.
Making Complex Processes Simple
As technology continues to become more advanced, more and more of our daily lives now take place in a digital-first context. This means:
In order to succeed, your website’s design requires careful planning, research, and a strategic approach if it hopes to meet the demands of the modern client.
Working with a specialist design and development agency is a proven approach to ensuring you gain a website that meets your requirements and delivers on the expectations of your target audience.
Completing a process like the one outlined in this article will enable you to design a website that can become your clients’ go-to online source when they have a need.
As mentioned earlier, we’ve provided a step-by-step guide to each of these phases to make the process even easier for you.
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30 October, 2022
Transport for London renew Cookie Management Contract with SoBold
SoBold is pleased to announce that they have renewed their contract with Transport for London to manage and support a bespoke Cookie Consent Management Tool for use across TfL’s portfolio of websites which includes 30 domains.
SoBold recently became only the 3rd Platinum Certified Cookiebot Partner in the UK having been an authorised Reseller of Cookiebot since the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into place on 24 May 2018.
Transport for London’s desire to extend its relationship with SoBold for a further year, highlights the importance of the work SoBold are doing to manage its bespoke Cookie Consent Management solution across its portfolio of website which have missions of visitors per month. The contract renewal cements SoBold’s position as one of the leading Cookiebot resellers.
For more information on SoBold’s work to date with Transport for London, see their case study.
SoBold Technical Director, Sam Phillips said:
It is great to see Transport for London renew its cookie management contract with SoBold for a fifth successive year. Over the last year we have continued to evolve their bespoke solution adding in full IAB TCF support as well updating the design to reflect TFL’s updated guidelines. We’re looking forward to continuing to support TfL over the next 12 months.
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18 April, 2023
Understanding the Important Role of Research and Planning When Designing a New Website
Before you begin working on the design elements of a website project, it’s important to begin with, what we at SoBold call, a research and planning phase.
The purpose of a research and planning phase is to ensure that every single decision you make about your design will result in a more effective website, both in terms of your business goals and your users’ needs.
During this phase, you’ll work alongside your chosen agency to define the full scope of your website and all its requirements. This phase will also involve looking closely at your target audience, trends in your market, your competitors, and any data available from your existing website.
This research is extremely useful in shaping the direction you take with your website and helping you to capitalise on certain trends that may align with your strategic objectives.
In this article, we’ll explain how a research and planning phase works to help you know what to expect when entering your own website design project.
Website Strategy Workshop
A research and planning phase usually begins with a strategic workshop. This workshop will bring all the relevant stakeholders together, either in person or over a video call, to agree on the goals and parameters of the project.
A workshop is a great collaborative environment to help your agency become even more familiar with your brand, your target audience, and the outcomes you’re looking for from your new website.
Your agency should work closely with you to determine how the objectives you have for your new website feed into your wider business goals. That will be the key to finding the right approach to designing your website.
Once the workshop is completed, the research can begin.
Leveraging Data to Dictate User Experience (UX) Decisions
Every decision you make about your website’s design needs to be informed and justified by data.
As it’s becoming increasingly difficult to capture and retain your audience’s attention, nothing can be left to chance. It’s also negligent to overlook the vast range of valuable insights available to you within your data, and the data in the public domain.
Your agency should begin by analysing the performance of your website in Google Analytics. This can help to help understand the current behaviours and trends from your website users.
Most businesses use Google Analytics, but few understand the right things to measure. For many businesses, Google Analytics is an untapped gold mine of data and insights that can help you improve site engagement, retain more visitors, and ultimately grow your business.
You can conduct a thorough analysis of things like:
1 – Your Audience Acquisition
Google Analytics can help you identify where your visitors have found you and accessed your website from.
Whether through organic search, social media, direct, or referral, you’ll learn how all your visitors are acquired. This information is vital, as it can allow you to tailor different parts of your website to certain visitors at various stages of their journey with you.
For example, if organic traffic is a key driver of your website traffic, it’s important for your agency to ensure that lots of the hierarchical structure of copy is maintained throughout the site.
This is also helpful in optimising your wider digital marketing strategy, by recognising what’s working well and what isn’t, from a web traffic perspective.
Bonus Tip – If you’re running Google Adwords, make sure your agency partner is aware of all the URLs that need to be redirected, and that this doesn’t affect your ad spend.
2 – Your Visitors’ Demographics
Google Analytics can provide detailed insights into your website’s visitors, with data covering everything from age, gender, location, language, and more. This helps you gain a clear, specific understanding of who’s coming to your website, and that can inform important decisions about your design.
It will also help you determine whether or not you’re attracting the right audience, which could alert you to a need for changes in your design and branding.
Bonus Tip – If you have a lot of visitors from other countries, you may need to talk to your agency about setting up a content delivery network (CDN) on the hosting server to deliver content from that location.
3 – Your Visitors’ Interests
You can use Google Analytics to view information about your visitors’ interests, past searches, and other online behaviour. This can help you identify what they’re looking for when they’re visiting your site. You can then tailor your design and content to match any unaddressed questions, challenges, or needs they might be looking to meet.
4 – Your Visitors’ Behaviour
Google Analytics can give you a graphical representation of your visitors’ behaviour when interacting with your site. This includes where they’ve entered your site, where they went next, what their whole journey through your site looks like, and where they eventually left.
This provides great opportunities to optimise certain pages that aren’t performing well enough. You can also learn what your visitors respond well to from pages that already have strong engagement.
Mapping your users’ journeys may also uncover insights to help you create links between certain services, hone in on special offers that will drive increased conversions, and many other ways to boost engagement.
5 – Your Conversions
Your conversions are a critical measurement of your site’s success. Whether you’re aiming for subscriptions, demo sign-ups, contact form submissions, downloads, or anything else, failing to achieve your conversion targets means something isn’t working.
You can use Google Analytics to set goals for conversions, monitor performance, and highlight areas where you need to improve.
Taking this analytical approach will ensure your website’s design is tailored to supporting your strategic objectives.
Bonus Tip – On July 1, 2023, for continued website measurement, you’ll need to migrate your original property settings to a Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property. Your agency partner should be on top of this though.
Next, if applicable, your agency should review any existing tracking resources you have in place on your website.
A successful website design is based on many different factors, each an important component in engaging your audience, converting them into clients, and growing your business.
This is why it’s useful to look into key metrics you may use to measure your success against, then use the related data and analytics to inform your design. Tailoring your UX based on your findings will ensure your website is designed specifically to optimise your user behaviours.
Bonus Tip – If you don’t have any additional tracking in place, both HotJar and Crazy Egg are great tools to use.
Analysing External Factors
Understanding Your Target Audience
One of the most important parts of building a new website is understanding the preferences of the audience you’re targeting. You know what your ideal customer profiles (ICP) look like, but do you understand how they behave when interacting with websites online?
Every decision about your website’s design must be made with consideration and empathy for your users. As touched on in the previous section, audience research will include a wide range of variables, including:
This part of the research will contribute towards building user personas and user journeys at a later stage of the design process.
A user persona is a fictional person that you can use to represent the target audience of your website. These personas will help you focus on the desired interactions between the ideal user and the website you’re building. Creating personas also helps to map the users’ needs to your goals for the project.
A user journey is a path that a user may take to reach their goal when using your website. Hypothetical user journeys are created at this stage, as they help to identify the different ways the site’s design needs to enable the user to achieve their goal as quickly and easily as possible.
With these, you can begin to paint a picture of how your target audience will interact with your website, allowing you to create a satisfying user experience.
Researching your industry landscape will reveal a great deal about what to do, and what not to do. An analysis of the wider market you operate in will help you benchmark yourself against industry leaders, and highlight mistakes being made by any businesses lagging behind. It’s useful to be aware of any industry trends or points of influence that may inform your website’s design as well.
Bonus Tip – You’re an expert in your industry. Your agency is not, but they are experts in web design and marketing trends. Work closely together by leveraging each other’s knowledge and expertise to paint the full picture of what makes modern websites successful from a design perspective.
It’s also crucial to conduct a thorough competitor analysis to see what the benchmark is for a successful website in your industry. Conversely, some competitors may provide examples of bad design that can help you identify pitfalls to avoid with your own site.
Around five of your competitors is usually a good number to look into. To do this, your agency should work with you on assessing their websites in key areas such as:
This research will allow you to recognise opportunities, gaps in the market, important trends, and any other insights you can gather.
Making Data-Driven Decisions
Following all this research, your agency will work on developing a strategy for your website, recommending the optimum route through the rest of the design process.
Your agency will provide a report detailing all the findings from the strategy workshop and research. This should often include a sitemap document and a content framework for your site as well.
An agency should always provide the opportunity for feedback and iterations on crucial documents like this, so you should then be given time to review this and provide feedback.
Bonus Tip – Don’t be afraid to ask questions, challenge things you’re unsure about, or change your mind during this feedback and revision process. These are big decisions, and it’s important to be 100% sure about the direction your website’s design is being taken.
Once you’ve worked through this feedback with your agency and you’re happy with everything they’ve planned, you can then move into the phase of the project that focuses on the visual identity of your site.
Bringing it All Together in the Design
A thorough, well managed research and planning phase is an essential part of designing a successful website. By having a strategy backed up by tangible data in place, you’ll be able to work through the remaining phases of the overall design process in a more efficient and effective way.
It also helps anticipate any challenges or potential issues in the design process and allows you to mitigate them before they arise, saving you time and money in the long-run.
This phase is arguably the most important in ensuring your agency can meet your specific requirements and expectations, on time and within budget.
If you’d like to discover what’s involved in the next phase of a web design project, exploring the visual identity of your site, read our next article here.
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30 November, 2022
How to Create a Brief That Will Ensure Your Web Development Project is Successful
If you’re looking to build a website for your business, a proven approach is to work with an agency and have them deliver the project for you. This could be a bespoke website design and development agency or solely a website or platform development agency.
Before you approach an agency, however, you’ll first need to reach a clear, detailed understanding of your requirements.
This article will provide an in-depth guide to help you through the briefing process and ensure your chosen agency delivers your project successfully, including a free template you can use to create your own brief. This template can also be used for other types of development projects as well, including anything from an online portal to an internal training platform.
Where to Start
Whether you need to design and develop a new website, or rebuild or migrate an existing site, a natural first step is to take your idea to an agency with a view to launching a web development project.
However, it’s a common mistake to go to an agency too early with just a raw, under-developed concept. Rather than meeting with an agency prematurely, we strongly suggest going through the process of defining your specific requirements and creating a project brief first.
The first thing to do is hold a discussion with the relevant people internally. Talk through the idea, and try to define what it is you need and what you want to achieve with it. Get a clear picture of what that idea or a concept will turn into, but also think carefully about what it should do from the perspective of your end-users.
Once you have a more tangible understanding of what you’re looking to build, you should begin creating a brief.
This is a document outlining the key details and requirements for the project. It’s something you’ll need to take with you to your introductory meetings with the agencies you’re considering, as it will be a very useful tool in helping you explain your idea clearly.
A brief doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s just a simple written document that lists everything you want at this early stage. However, while a brief can be simple, it’s important that it’s as specific as possible too. The more detail you provide for your agency, the more chance you’ll have the project delivered on time, within your budget, and meeting your expectations.
Why Having a Brief is Crucial
There are some potential pitfalls to be aware of that could create challenges for you if you don’t create a thorough brief.
Unfortunately, some agencies will be willing to work with you without a detailed brief, glossing over important details and keeping the expectations and requirements vague. This is a red flag to look out for, as it will likely result in one of several outcomes:
A brief is what gives you and the agency a mutual understanding of the work that needs to be done to successfully deliver the project. Without that specificity, you might end up disappointed. That’s why it’s always wise to put some time and effort in up front before taking your idea to an agency.
Once you submit your brief, you may be invited to participate in a follow-up session to further explore the requirements you’ve listed. This is perfectly normal, and actually a good sign. Experienced agencies will want to talk through each of the elements of your brief with you to help determine the best possible way to deliver those in the project.
How to Create Your Brief
When you begin to discuss and plan the requirements of your project between your team, we recommend thinking carefully about the following points.
Please note: There are a lot of things that could go into a project brief, depending on how complex your requirements are, so we won’t include everything here in this article.
The Project’s Purpose and Goals
Start by thinking about what the purpose of the project is. There’s no use speaking to an agency until you have a clear, specific understanding of exactly what you’re trying to achieve with this project. This should relate to your strategic business objectives, but it should also be designed to meet the needs of your end-users.
Ask yourself how this will allow you to improve your end-users’ experience or solve a problem for them. Answering this might involve working on user personas or developing user stories, or potentially even working directly with some members of your target audience to gather their input.
Project Timelines and Deadlines
Timing is another important point to think about, particularly how much time you have to deliver the project. Deadlines can sometimes relate to certain dates that are out of your control, so it’s better to start as early as possible in those cases. If there’s any flexibility with the timeline for delivery, make a note of that as well.
Make a list of all the stakeholders involved. This is a good thing for the agency to be aware of early on, because the project becomes more complex with a higher number of stakeholders.
Depending on the size of your business, and the nature of your site, your project team will usually be some combination of: A marketing director or marketing manager, someone from your operations department, and someone from IT.
However, if you also have people like someone from your IT team responsible for security, a content writer to provide all the written text, or any external consultants, that should be made clear in advance. If your site will need to integrate with other platforms, such as your CRM system, you may have an integration manager specifically in charge of overseeing that as well.
It’s useful to designate roles to certain stakeholders, such as project sponsors, product owners, administrators, and so on. This will help you understand who’s responsible for different aspects of the project internally.
If you plan to work with external agencies for things like SEO or branding, it’s important to note that in your brief. This is necessary for the development agency to be aware of as early as possible, because collaborating with other third-parties at different stages of the project requires a lot of coordination.
Certain processes may also have to run differently if other third-party agencies want to be more hands-on or handle some parts of the site themselves. The earlier this is made clear, the more smoothly the project will run.
If you have any preference of technology platform or any requirements related to your existing tech stack, that will be something you’ll need to decide early on. For example, would you prefer to use WordPress due to its scalability, or do you have any existing investment in any other platforms?
Think about any preference you have for the various technology choices available, why they’re important to you, and whether your agency will have to tailor their approach to accommodate that.
Try to determine a minimum and maximum budget for your project, even if it’s just a loose range for now. It will help you evaluate agencies, and will also help you prioritise the various aspects of the project as “must have” or “nice to have” in many cases.
Design Look and Feel
This is where your company’s brand comes into play. You’ll want your site to reflect your brand and that will come through in the design. Bring any brand guidelines to the table, and think about what sort of tone or experience you want to convey to your end-users.
If you don’t have any recent brand guidelines and want help updating them, or need to go through a rebranding process, mention that in your brief as well. Design and development agencies will often be able to help you in these areas too, or at least refer you to a trusted partner who can.
User Interface (UI)
How your end-users will interact with your site, and what kind of experience they’ll have, is largely determined by the user interface. When it comes to design and UI, simplicity is usually the best approach. However, depending on the function you’re providing, you might have some specific or bespoke UI requirements.
Consider your target audience carefully here as well. For example, if most of your users will be accessing your site from a mobile device, it’s probably wise to opt for a mobile-first design.
Some other important things to think about here include how you’d like your sitemap to be structured, especially if you have an existing site that you’re already happy with.
If your project will involve rebuilding or migrating an existing site or platform, it will be helpful to gather any existing data sources, such as Google Analytics, that will provide insight into your current site.
Non-functional requirements are all the aspects of your site that happen behind the scenes. These are things that allow your site to do its job properly for your end-users, but won’t be evident to those people while they’re using it.
There’s a lot of things to consider with non-functional requirements, so we won’t cover everything here.
If you have any specific hosting requirements, such as a preference for a certain cloud-based platform, or a particularly secure data centre, those will be important to identify as early as possible.
Say, for instance, that sustainability is a core value for your business, this could also have an influence on how and where your hosting is managed.
If you have an internal IT team that will be contributing towards the hosting decision, make sure you involve them in the discussion.
Security and Compliance
Security is a growing concern for all businesses today. It’s crucial to think about security as a core component of any web development project, to minimise any potential risks for your business.
If you have someone in your team responsible for security, they should begin to think about issues such as:
Robust security also involves keeping compliant with any specific security or industry regulations that may affect your business. Of course, compliance with things like GDPR should be planned for at this stage too.
Some other common non-functional requirements include things like session management capabilities to track and things like log-in time, session length, pages visited, and so on. Search engine optimisation (SEO) tools, analytics, or other capabilities might need to be built into your site as well.
Accessibility, Usability, and Responsive Design
When it comes to aspects that will make your users’ experience as seamless as possible, such as accessibility, a good agency will ensure all these things are taken care of for you. This is also the case for ensuring all major web browsers, operating systems, and devices are fully supported and compatible. Development should always be compliant with industry standards, taking into account optimum accessibility and usability.
However, if you have any additional or bespoke requirements for any of these things, those will be useful to note early on.
The term ‘functional requirements’ refers to everything that your site will be able to do for its users, in terms of its features, functionality, and capabilities.
As mentioned earlier, one of the first things you discussed was what the site will help your end-users achieve. From the perspective of building something your target audience can use, you should start to get a feel for what functionality is required to ensure they can achieve that.
Your features are the things your site will allow your users to do. These can be very simple, or very sophisticated, depending on what you’re aiming to provide for them.
When putting your brief together, think of any and all features and functionality that might benefit your users. Your agency will then work with you to explore these and find the best way to turn that into intuitive, user-friendly features for you.
What to Do Next
Once your team has been through the process of talking through all the points listed above, you should have a very thorough, useful brief to work with. The next step is to take that brief to any introductory meetings you have with agencies and ask them what they think of the project initially.
It’s normal for an agency to ask lots of questions at that stage and really dive into the ‘WHY’ behind all the things you’ve put into your brief. A good agency will even challenge you on certain decisions, to help you determine the best possible way to build what you need.
Once you’ve discussed your brief with an agency, determine which one feels like the best fit. Choosing the right agency is crucial, as it will have a huge influence on whether or not your project is successful.
As mentioned earlier, some agencies will agree to launch into a project without a brief, and that can be extremely problematic. While the main purpose of a brief is to help you and your agency understand exactly what you need, it should also be used as a way to spot partners who may not be sufficiently thorough or conscientious.
Whichever agency you choose, a detailed brief will help you ensure you’re given a fair quote, realistic timelines for completion, and a finished product that meets your requirements and expectations.
More Helpful Resources
If you’re considering a bespoke development project, our related article provides useful guidance to help you choose the right technology platform for your specific needs:
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25 April, 2023
The Changing Roles of Web Design and Development in the Age of AI
In the first few months of 2023, generative AI has burst on to the scene and begun to change our relationship with technology forever. Already, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that people in a wide range of jobs will have to adapt quickly or risk being replaced. In this article, we explore the impact AI is having on the web design and development industry, as well as how businesses, and people, should approach working with this innovative technology.
AI tools are nothing new. We’ve all been using them for years, from chatbots to predictive text to voice-controlled assistants like Siri and Alexa. But the recent mainstream adoption of AI tools such as Chat GPT, and the rapid advancement of the technology itself, has caused huge disruption across a number of industries.
Many assumed that people like marketers, software developers, and UX and UI designers would be some of the last ones at risk of having their jobs taken by AI, due to their need for creative skill and use of human emotion. Ironically, these roles have been some of the first to come “under threat” over the past few months.
AI’s speed and efficiency is already forcing us to ask questions about the future of the web design and development industry. With that in mind, one question in particular has dominated discussion online so far this year:
Are our jobs in danger of being taken by AI?
By now, you’re almost certainly aware that AI offers incredible value by accelerating workflows and augmenting skills. Some of the most beneficial use cases lie in:
AI can also devise entire business and marketing strategies, solve complex problems, and even create its own AI-powered applications from scratch. Perhaps most importantly, it can do all these tasks in a matter of seconds, when most of them would take a human several hours, days or even months.
The Latest News and Tools (at the Time of Writing)
Over the past few months, there are more and more AI-powered tools being released on an almost daily basis.
The number of AI tools that have been released recently is staggering, and the capabilities of some of them is truly mind-blowing. Just last month, in March 2023:
It’s both exciting and terrifying to think these highly intelligent tools are just the tip of the AI iceberg. When you consider how common it’s now become to use AI to develop even more advanced AI, it seems that the rate of evolution will only continue to increase exponentially from here.
How is AI Transforming Design and Development?
While these AI tools are extremely impressive, it’s not as straightforward as simply plugging them in and sitting back while they literally do your work for you. It’s possible we may get there one day, but right now we believe we’re a long way off.
These tools are highly sophisticated and intuitive, and their adoption is probably going to change the way we all work forever. However, this should be seen as technology that will augment and enhance people’s ability to do their jobs, or create new jobs entirely, rather than “steal” them away from us.
The current use cases for AI are mostly just ways for you to do your work, much faster and more effectively. This could either be done by automating processes to save time, or by supplementing your existing skill-set with new capabilities with the help of AI. For example, if you wanted to convert your code from one language into multiple languages, you would be able to do this with the help of Chat GPT.
When it comes to user experience (UX) design, one crucial thing AI will always be missing is human empathy, emotion, and understanding. A company looking to create a high-performance website that supports their strategic business goals and engages their target audience will fail if they don’t take into account human understanding and collaboration between them and their web development agency.
Outlining the What and the How is important, but the Why is arguably what drives great UX and UI.
“Design is not just a visual experience, it’s an emotional one. It should make people feel something.”Nathan Shedroff, Author and Professor of Design Strategy
UX design is a nuanced, collaborative process, focusing on the specific requirements of the business and the specific needs of the target audience. You can save a lot of time using AI to produce a high volume of early conceptual designs or accelerate your copywriting process. But without the human element, none of these things will be authentic or anywhere near the required standard.
Potential Concerns and Risks with AI
Of course, we’ve not even mentioned the rising concerns and risks associated with AI yet. Just last month, over 1,000 technology leaders and influencers signed a petition to halt the development of generative AI until more governance can be introduced to ensure its safety.
There are still some serious grey areas regarding the use of this technology in business as well, from regulations and legal implications to the copyright of creative work like logos and images. These are providing opportunities for a wide range of new forms of cyber crime, phishing, and “deep-fake” imitations which could spiral out of control if left unchecked.
There are also plenty of moral issues surrounding AI that we must consider. For example, what implications will there be for our society if global businesses do begin replacing humans with AI on a large scale?
A key concern is that Generative AI is also having a significant impact on the environment, which is a conversation most people seem to be avoiding for the time being. With the global fight to reduce carbon emissions intensifying, and more businesses placing sustainability at the core of their values, there needs to be some action taken to balance those priorities with the efficiency and speed enabled by AI.
The SoBold Perspective
From our perspective, as a leading design and development agency, we believe that people will always want and need to work with other people. Personable relationships, real-life experience, and critical thinking are all essential parts of our work. In many cases, that’s also what many of our clients value most about our services.
Granted, we’re always looking for innovative new ways to push the boundaries, and AI is an incredible tool that will help us do that. But it won’t replace crucial human characteristics like empathy, emotion, and subjective opinions.
It will, however, help us spend less time on low-value tasks, and more time to focus on building stronger relationships and gaining a deeper understanding of our clients’ needs. That will only result in improving the work we deliver, which is something we’re always striving to achieve.
The Verdict on AI (for Now)
This year will probably be looked back on as a turning point in history when AI was introduced to the world. But this technology won’t replace too many jobs just yet. Instead, it will enhance our ability to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently.
For now, the only people at risk of losing their jobs to AI are those who fail – or refuse – to adapt to this new way of working and embrace the change. Similarly, if you’re using AI because you’re being lazy or complacent, that will also cause problems. You should never use work produced by a generative AI tool without checking its quality and accuracy, and you’ll always need to add a human touch before considering it finished.
On the other hand, if you’re forward-thinking and agile, embracing AI will make you exponentially better at your job. Here at SoBold, we’re personally most excited by how AI has the potential to help us vastly improve the service we deliver for our clients.
Of course, this technology is evolving so fast that it’s difficult to predict where we’ll stand a year from now. We’ll be discussing this, and lots of other important trends, in our new monthly newsletter.