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I’m delighted to announce that this year our annual rapid digital product development event known as (‘4 Days 2 Launch’) will be coming to Wales (where it will be known as ‘Pedwar Diwrnod I Lansio’).
Since 2006 we have disappeared to the English countryside for a week (mostly Dorset, maybe Devon) and rapidly built digital products in teams. These events and the products we’ve built have helped us:
1. Come closer together as a company. It’s the only time our New York and London offices come together en masse;
2. Develop some of our best-known and most popular business ventures;
3. Experiment with new technologies and techniques.
So why Wales, specifically Swansea, this year?
Last month I travelled to Belgrade in Serbia to attend Resonate 2015. It was my first time at Resonate Festival and my first time in Belgarde, where it is held each year. The festival lasts for six days and bills itself as providing an insight into the current situation in the fields of music, visual arts and digital culture.
Mint projects often start with a discovery phase, where we work with our clients to gain insights into a product, its market, and the potential business opportunity.
This approach ensures we don’t just dive straight into the complexities of a full technical build, littered with assumptions about how people might want to use a product. It is also an effective toe in the water for our clients - enabling them to commit a relatively small portion of budget to a project and validate their ideas quickly (or throw up problems early).
At the end of a discovery phase, we come away with a clearer picture of what the product should look like, how people want to use it and how they don’t, based on real-world testing and data-backed validation.
Every discovery phase involves competitor analysis, identification of user needs, product prototyping, and user testing. Sometimes we add other things to the mix - no discovery phase is ever the same, as every product (and client) has a different set of needs and problems.
Here’s what we’ve done on three different discovery phases, including what we delivered at the end of each phase.
It begins with a knock at the door.
Or perhaps a telephone call, a letter, even a newspaper headline. There may be a body. There will certainly be something hidden and unexplained. A mystery, a secret, a problem to be solved.
There follows a process of observation and investigation — clues, facts, witnesses. Hypotheses will be proposed and interrogated, answers will prove false. Eventually — preferably in a dazzling dénouement — the facts will reveal an explanation that satisfies, a solution to the problem.
If, like me, you are a fan of detective stories, this structure will be familiar. But twist it just a little — we rarely have to deal with bodies — and I think it looks rather like the way we make products at Mint. The cycle of observe > test > analyse is at the heart of our approach to product development and is, in essence, detective work.
Of course, this approach is firmly rooted in the principles of Agile development: fast, iterative, user-focused. But the detective story parallel throws up some interesting corollaries when you consider the work of the Agile agency.
We’re waiting for that knock on the door; a client with a problem, a question. That problem will throw us into an unfamiliar world. There will be interviews and evidence to be collected. We’ll probably come up with a few red herrings before arriving, eventually, at what we believe is the ‘right’ product, the right solution for that problem. All for twenty five dollars a day plus expenses. Or thereabouts.
On January 6th we wrote about WhiteAlbum, our disposable camera app for your phone.
One question we face when we launch a new product or service like this is “how do we know if it’s working?” That’s a tough question, I mean what does that even mean? But here I will try and answer it.