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How to use a dynamic and agile process to create awesome UX

Chicago, March 14th, 2017

Codal is a Chicago-based UX design and development agency with a focus on blending an agile process with the latest technologies. The company says that it has the knack for bringing out the best in every brand they work with. Since 2007, its clientele has ranged from small business to enterprise, but its philosophy has always remained the same: to empower brand visibility and deliver the most elegant web and mobile solutions possible.

Behind this vision is Codal’s CEO, Keval Baxi. Baxi was born in the United States, but speaks Gujarati and Hindi, as his family and ancestors are originally from Mumbai, India. Having traveled back and forth from Mumbai (a huge tech hub) growing up, he saw a lot of technology startups grow and innovate across all different industries.

This motivated him to start his own technology company, and be able to do the same. Being around technology a lot as a child, in a way gave him a small advantage to start his own company in an area that he is passionate about.

He studied Entrepreneurship at Depaul University in Chicago, and has always had a passion for the tech industry. He taught himself basic code by reading books, and how-to’s on the internet. This passion and infatuation with technology continued to grow over the years. After graduation college, Baxi founded his first business, CMS Central, working with a handful of people. The company started growing rapidly and after recognising the demand for design and user experience, CMS Central started growing a specialised team team. A few years, the company was renamed and rebranded to what now is Codal.

The name Codal came from the two words ‘code’ and ‘portal.’ It was important for Baxi to keep the company name simple, yet still interesting and relevant to the what we do at Codal.

Can you describe your agency in three words?

Innovative, Agile, and Creative

In your opinion, what ingredients are key to create a successful UX design?

The key ingredients to a successful UX design is being versatile and adaptable with every project and client. Every project has different needs and requirements, and the UX process has to cater to those needs.

What is your personal definition of creativity?

Creativity can be defined as taking a standard idea, process, or application and creating something both beautiful, valuable and different. If your website looks like everyone else’s, I wouldn’t consider it “creative.”

Which cities outside where you live interest you creatively?

Some of the cities that really stand out as being creative and innovative in their way of thinking are San Francisco, London and Seoul.

Please list a few of your favourite digital brands:

Some of the brands that have a great digital presence are Nike with their use of social media as a customer service avenue. The HBO weekly news and commentary program Last Week Tonight with its phenomenal YouTube presence, and Whole Foods, a supermarket chain that provides relevant and educational content to its customers.

While these are all none “digital” companies (Nike sells sneakers!) they all have an amazing digital presence.

How do you work out your design taking into account your target audience or users?

The target audience and types of users are the core focus during design. Without having the users at the focal point of the design the usability of the application will not be successful. Codal offers UX and user research services, in which we drill down what users are the target audience. Sometimes we will use surveys, interviews, or focus groups. In other scenarios, we will turn to secondary research among a long list of user research strategies!

Which are the most important web tools that you use?

For wireframing, we use Axure. For visual design, either Photoshop or Sketch.

Can you tell us about a project you worked on and that was especially successful?

We designed and developed an app called IndiCard. IndiCard is a service for those in the service industry. It offers deals to service workers across the operating networks. Indicard came to us with partially written code already. For our planning phase we did a full code audit and review to determine the integrity of the code that had been written by another firm. We then made recommendations for application stabilization, removed potential hazards in the code, and then wrote our own more robust code.

Inheriting code is often a difficult situation, but it allows for a totally different perspective in what works and what absolutely does not.

Wireframes and Prototypes were extensively designed. Validation was key to deploy a product that matched the vision of Indicard’s management team. The user experience needed some new features that we developed including in app membership renewal, deal categorization, and communication. For the development stage we used existing iOS and Android builds for platforms. In addition, we built a web-based admin panel which integrated new elements of advanced sorting and filtering.

How do you organize your team and their tasks to guarantee quality assurance (QA)?

The way we organize our team is by setting up a dynamic process in order to successfully complete the UX design. The first phase is our discovery and planning stage where our designers focus on goal definitions, design plan creation and sprint planning. The next phase is research and strategy where the designers create surveys, run interviews, create journey maps and prototyping and user testings. The third phase is one of conceptual design where the focus is on sitemap creation, low fidelity prototyping and user testing. The final phase is detailed design which incompasses fidelity interative prototype, user testing and user interface design. Our team is organized in a way that the group test and tackle each phase at a time to ensure the best quality and performance before moving on to the next phase of the UX process.

What piece of advice would you give a recent grad looking to work in digital marketing?

My advice would be to be innovative and to continue the process of learning and discovering. Especially in the industry of technology, what you know now could be obsolete in future years. In order to remain competitive it is crucial to continue to stay on top of the latest cutting edge technology.

By Geny Caloisi.

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