How to Bridge the Gap between Design and Data?

October 19, 2017

We want our websites to be more than just pretty. We want them to drive our business. Even better: we want them to provide data to improve our business. But how to organize this synergy between design and data? Is agile methodology the answer? Or should we look at team constellations? Valtech Denmark shares its thoughts on a model that works.

If you’re working with digital in a large enterprise, chances are that you’re using terms like Agile, Scrum or Prince2 on a daily basis. Now although these methods surely bridge a gap in how to deliver projects, they don’t help us much when it comes to team constellation. This blog addresses how we, in Valtech Denmark, constitute a team for projects that do not only require design but also are data driven.

Different type of project, different type of setup

The type of project that we’re talking about here, is one with diversified requirements. It’s the type of project where we’re not talking Product based delivery: a website that looks neat and that’s it. Instead, we’re looking at Service based delivery: a website that looks good but can also help us improve.

Take a look at the following categorization of projects:

  • Design Projects: building a website and delivering it.
  • Design + Data projects: building a website, and adding services like KPI, SEO, SEM or channelize data to an app or dashboard.
  • Data project: building a data handling framework, churn analysis, EDA, data munching or the latest buzz words such as machine learning or deep learning.

In a project that combines design with data, the team owner is challenged like never before. The unique strengths of the team, both individually as well as where they overlap with other members of the crew, are not just important for making the project succeed, they are vital.

Workflow for design and data

This type of project by nature has extremely diversified requirements. Hence, the team needs to be set up cross-functionally. Each team member has its own specialization, and delivers a layer of the service in an iterative/agile approach.

Let us look at an example from our office here in Copenhagen. The account team hit a client who needs a new E-commerce website. It needs to display various furniture products in a way that which could be purchased online. In this case, our Art Directors work with the Concept Developers (CD) and Content Advisors. They can only design with input from Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX) designers. They then push this to the Graphic designers (GD) and Devops, This, obviously, comes with various iterations.

The setup of our Design and Data team in Copenhagen.
Collage by Skjold Esper Elbrønd, Graphic Designer, Valtech, Copenhagen

As soon as this goes live, our data people come in. They’ve been working on the SEO and SEM, funnelling the users with Google Analytics and AdWords. This provides the customer insights through KPI’s. Elsewhere in the data expertise team, we push the user personalization. For this, we’ve modelled a recommendation algorithmic engine with Google BigQuery/ Machine Learning, Deep Learning/Tensor flow. A Classic Furniture website with Creative Design, clear KPI tracking SEO along with Recommendation Engine goes live.

All this knowledge doesn’t come in one person. They are expert fields in their own, and therefore we have built up a team in Copenhagen where each member of the team has their own unique specialization. At the same time, their uniqueness intersects at the moments where it matters. Each segment in the above image is different. It comes with a different colour and a different shape. Similarly, the talent in each member of the team is different but at the same time, they speak each other’s language.

Bridging the gap – Cross Functional Extremely Agile – Team CIA, Valtech, Copenhagen

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