People who work with us know that the quality of our work is extremely important to us. And they are struck by the lengths we go to to ensure that we meet only the highest standards.
This isn’t guff, it’s actually what people tell us. It’s not just that we use the best design and project methods; or that we promote good communication with our clients; or that we rigorously check the technical and non-technical aspects of our work. It is because the cumulative effect of each detail we attend to results in an end product that is of obvious high quality.
For us, Quality Assurance means more than ‘manufacturing’ quality (for which, please see a discussion about Web Standards). These days people require assurances about project management skills, our corporate policies and end-user acceptance of our products. We encourage this because we like working with clients who care about quality, who understand what it really means, and because it is good for standards throughout our industry.
The following points mention some of the ways we consider ensuring quality.
We rely on documentation at several stages during a project. We believe that proper documentation, particularly of the terms of engagement, is an important safety net for all parties, which can help to safeguard the project from many types of risks. The framework for every engagement is formalised in a Statement of Work, which details all the work to be done, the schedule and the cost, and is an essential reference that enables proper monitoring of progress.
Apart from the Statement of Work, we may also, according to the needs of a project or client, produce detailed Functional Specifications, Conceptual and Architectural design diagrams, Wire Frames, Personas, Use Case Scenarios, and Design Guidelines.
However, we are judicious about what we document: aware that most formal documents are for essentially administrative purposes, whose production may take time and money away from research, design and implementation activities. Kilroy James has never believed that a project’s success depends on or can be measured by the number of associated documents it has gathered.
We discuss documentation requirements with each client, and, in the interests of control, efficiency and economy, encourage them to require only what the project really needs.
Quality of the project objectives
There are obvious quality requirements relating to good technical and project management skills, and these are easy to measure: does an outcome pass performance tests, is the project on time and within budget? But for all these are worth, what is the value (or should that be cost?) of a project that works out well for its managers and implementors, and on paper looked successful, but which has created outcomes that fail to meet the requirements of its end users?
Obviously: not much. Which is why our approach to interactive design is not ‘geared’ towards user friendly outcomes – the user experience is our core concern during design. We are passionate about this point, and during our in-house post project assessment, we will keenly investigate the success of the outcomes from this standpoint.
We believe our interest in and commitment to satisfying the very real people who use our products, is one of the things that makes Kilroy James different to other companies. And this key aspect of quality – the quality of the user experience – is something that we start, and end, every project thinking about.
Kilroy James has been developing project and design methods that address the unique challenges of interactive design for the best part of ten years; and we intend to encourage their evolution during our second decade.
The right tool for the job
Another way we are different from many other companies is the way we view the project process. At Kilroy James, our interactive products are good because they have actually been designed by an Interaction Designer, not by a programmer. We believe that most clients would be shocked at the number of key business and design decisions that get made by programmers during the course of an average technology project.
Programmers are experts at programming and Interaction Designers are experts at designing programs. The design should serve the business and users’ objectives, and technology should serve the design – this situation should not be inverted. Employing the right people to do the right jobs is a simple but effective step to help ensure that the quality of the end product is maintained.