Growing your business from within

by Simon Dickey on Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Growing your business from within

Imagine a place where your customers are so loyal to you because you have made it very easy for them to get what they need.

Businesses are often caught up in growing their customer base through slick marketing to attract new and existing customers to their product or service; because you have created a need that will make their lives better.

However we often spend a whole raft of money acquiring the customers but then drop the ball in providing a high level of service once you have them onboard.

I have just shifted my business from one telco provider to another because I wasn’t loved. I noticed new products and services out there that were way better than what I was paying for. But hay, we are not a big company, probably have a total spend of $12k per year on mobile, phone and broadband but it is still $12k. Multiply that by ten companies like mine and that starts to add up.

It’s not until you advise them you are going elsewhere that they get down on their knees and beg you, with great offers, to stay. Sound a little familiar?

However on a positive note, banks have been leading the way in providing kick ass, online self-service. They have provided the right tools, at the right time, on the right device. And customers prefer it this way.

It seems however that business to business self-service is lagging behind the wave of business to consumer self-service. 

If you can deliver a better service to your customer than through traditional forms of call centres and account managers then that would be the ultimate goal. Your cost of service will drop, however the customer loyalty to your brand will grow stronger.

Frontend is currently working on a raft of self-service projects with a solid user-centred design approach, which begins with researching customers’ needs and understanding their journeys and behaviours. 

Once you hit the wireframe and design stages you can easily test your designs with paper or HTML prototypes before investing into any software development.

I have seen several businesses that have decided user testing is not important and gone straight into software development only to find out customers are not using it. The common reasons are due to timeframes, budget or the business thinks they know what their customers need. 

Having an adaptable design and test process allows you to make changes very quickly and to retest again with other users which enable you to progressively improve the user experience early on in the project.

This will always be a continuous process as the business and customer needs change. Adopting a user-centred approach in your organisation will deliver customer loyalty and repeat business.

Kelly's sign off

by Kelly Milligan on Wednesday, August 27, 2014

After four glorious, happy years working with these very talented folks - adventure calls! - and It's my last day here at Frontend. Over the next few weeks I'll be making my way through the USA to Amsterdam. I'm embarking on a new journey in creative (and life!) development, and I'm seriously excited to see where it leads.

I've done this write-up to reflect on my time here at Frontend. There's so much I've learned, so many great people I've met and worked with, and a bunch of projects I'm proud of.


Before Frontend

While studying you get asked that question: "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?". I didn't quite foresee this... but man am I stoked to be here now. I was studying Electronic Commerce with a major in Economics - mainly Business School papers with some Computer Science peppered throughout. I'd tinkered with web and flash as a hobby, who would've thought it was career material!?

A summer work-experience placement as a junior web developer got me hooked. From the very beginning of my web career I've been excited about creative development. When I started it was Flash, specifically what was possible in likes of Papervision3D.


Hello Frontend!

I came in to Frontend as a junior/intermediate front-end developer. James was my interviewer, and I've had the pleasure of working with him since. Over the first couple of years Simon gave me plenty of opportunities to try alternative parts of the process: wireframing, interface design, mobile design, project management. This exposure gave me focus and clarity over which parts I love the most - code & interaction. My other two years at Frontend have been solely focused on these two topics. This freedom to explore my talents and preferences has been incredibly valuable, and I applaud Simon for his open-minded approach to this within the team. I leave as the Senior Front-end Developer, a title I'm very proud to have earned.


The take-away projects

There's been a bunch of great projects here that have taught me so much. If you work in development you'll know that feeling - every finished project makes you a far better developer than you were before. It's one of the things that make this role so interesting. You never stop learning, growing, and improving. Embrace it!


Spark Digital / Gen-i

Undoubtedly the largest and most intense projects I worked on here were for Spark Digital (formerly Gen-i).

In 2013 we created a brand spanking new digital channel for Gen-i. Design, client-side code and platform all new, without legacy haze. Making such big picture decisions around the client-side was an awesome challenge.

After the public website was complete, we began work on the Gen-i Procurement portal, which ran through 2013 to early 2014. Gen-i Procurement is an online store where Gen-i's customers purchase all sorts of business related hardware. It's like an enormous eCommerce shop, and shared the same UX issues that many eCommerce stores share. We reviewed every part of the UX with a fine tooth comb, and re-built the whole interface from scratch with UX as the number one priority. What we got was an incredibly detailed, polished and intuitive shop interface. Gorgeous on both design and technical levels.

In 2014 Gen-i and it's parent company Telecom rebranded as Spark. With the rebrand came an overhaul of the public website. The chance to re-visit the design and code of a project in-depth is rare, and we embraced the opportunity to finely tune what we'd previously created. Knowledge gains from the Procurement portal made their way into the public website, and the whole digital identity became even more cohesive.

Fonterra Living Water

This was a fun one. A rich one page website with a challenging timeline. We got something pretty impressive out the door in a few short weeks. Full-frame frameworking, parallaxing, forced agile-ity, we learned it all here.

Frontend's own

We've had a lot of fun with our own website over the years. It's always hard to find the time for your own website - but it's one of those rare projects where you truly have full creative control. Among many other things, we had a lot of fun exploring SVG's and their real-world usage on this latest iteration.


What's around the corner?

For me, it's Creative Development. I've got a great opportunity to pivot my Front-end development skill into Creative JS development - utilizing new "web-standard" methods like CSS3 and WebGL. I feel extremely lucky to be following my passion in this area of front-end coding.

Frontend is in growth mode, there's fresh talent coming in, more fantastic projects coming up, and loads of top-quality stuff going out.


Signing off

It's been a wonderful time here at Frontend. I really look forward to keeping in touch with the great friends I've made here. Simon, James, Anna, Corinne, Scott, you're all awesome - and I'm sure our paths will cross again. Thanks for all the laughs, stimulating conversation and engaging collaboration. Dan, enjoy it here dude. You've got an undeniable passion for front-end dev, and I really look forward to seeing what you guys create together.





Keep an eye on my personal website at kellymilligan.co.nz to see what happens next :)

Dank je wel!
Kelly

Gen-i to Spark Digital

by Simon Dickey on Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Frontend transformed Geni-i's digital channels.

With an organisation as large as Telecom Gen-i, a rebrand initiative by the business is a large undertaking and requires a well thought out plan.

One week ago Gen-i launched its new brand Spark Digital that will focus on delivering end-to-end digital solutions for New Zealand Corporate and Government.

Frontend played a key role in rebranding the customer-facing website www.sparkdigital.co.nz and their self-service portals which Frontend delivered on time in only ten weeks.

What made this project so achievable in a very short timeframe was working with the Spark Digital user experience team to define what was realistic for day one while maintaining high quality processes and content, without needing to cut corners.

This allowed us to focus on a user-centred design approach on key interface elements where the business needs and user needs were equally considered.

Now the business can focus on improving the online channels incrementally knowing they have the fundamental UI brand elements in place.

Defining achievable goals early on with a detailed timeline of key milestones helped lay the platform required for the project to run smoothly. This helped to minimise the pressure in the final stages of the project as we allowed plenty of time for testing, bug fixing and content loading.

The beauty about the online space that many marketers forget is the ability to roll out new features periodically rather than one big bang.