Have you seen ants move? Those tiny insects move in teams before raining. Looking closer, they move one item at a time: if not able to move out the entire storage before raining, they at least get the quintessence out safe and sound.
In early days at lynda.com (at LinkedIn), a project to design a mobile site came to me: the beauty of a mobile site is in that it’s URL can be searched and shared. (Well, the technology at that time.)
As much exciting as it sounds, it took us 15 months to see the shape. Why? We started with thinking big (yay), but also acting big (nay). Not as robust as our desktop website but it is a full-blown mobile site: account management, new member registration, expired member reactivation, password retrieval, four different home pages, and you just couldn’t see the light at end of the tunnel. And because of the scope being too big and the difficulty to justify the product to the company’s bottom line, it was re-prioritized twice for the other higher priority projects.
If we were given the second chance, there shouldn’t be any 72-page wireframes sitting there waiting; start small and get the bare minimal functionality out, test, and reiterate.
It was long haul but a fun project to work on. We learned and we grew as a team together, and the fun part is: we breathed the joy, felt the pain, lived in the stress, ate the mistake, fought for what’s good, did what we think is right, poured our hearts and soul. At the end of the day, we were proud of ourselves.
Lessons learned & best practices
I. Start with small, focus on core;
II. Design interaction and visual concurrently;
III. Test early, test often;
IV. Make full use of team resources.
I also had the privilege to present the mobile design in the IA Summit, and the slides can be found at: http://www.slideshare.net/michelwell/think-big-start-small-focus-on-the-core-lessons-learned-from-an-overdue-mobile-site
The iPhone app, subsequently, was designed with these lessons learned and is a MVP in the real sense: a skimmed down version of a video library. It was a great success after we launched the app and was rated as one of the top 10 most downloaded educational app in the app store.