Turnbridge Wells, Kent
Create Digital Media was founded on our love of apps. We strongly believe that every mobile app must create a wonderful user experience from start to finish, built with outstanding aesthetic design, beautifully entwined with an elegant, rock solid codebase. Put simply, we make apps that we’re proud of, that’s why we get out of bed every day.
The creative process is great fun. I love the fact that we get the chance to make a new experience for someone. It may not be someone we ever meet. It could be a stranger on the other side of the world. Personally, I enjoy creating nice things that make people happy and the fact that we can get our apps out into thousands of users’ hands instantly is hugely satisfying.
If I had to choose a word to which I owe the success of our company, it’s ‘Passion’. There are a lot of other great reasons I could share, like our team’s talents, hard work, attention to detail, but what makes that useful all stems from our shared passion for excellence. You can have plenty of people in a room with a lot of raw talent, but if you don’t have passion to direct that talent into something special, you end up with something that is “good” or even “good enough”.“Great” is the benchmark around here. When you take people with the right skills and passion, you can’t help but turn out great work.
What a question! I’d like to say if Create DM was any animal, it would be a cat. I grew up with cats and dogs as a kid and from my experience cats, like us, are nimble and quick on their feet. They’re also relatively self sufficient and affectionate – we love the clients we work with and while we rarely curl up in a ball on their laps, we do like to take the strain off their shoulders during a project.
Most of our clients are UK based, many of them are in London which is under an hour away from our studio in Kent. We do have clients around the globe though in India, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, China, and France to name but a few. As we’re all English we’ll typically start by sitting down with a new client to have a cup of tea and a very informal chat about their idea. We like to make sure we have a natural connection with our clients before taking on a project, it’s important that we understand each other and share the same values. When you share a natural trust and understanding with a client the end result is always better.
After estimating the time needed for the project and booking their time into the calendar we go into the “Scoping Session”. This usually takes a day where we go through the idea in detail and flesh out all the details – this part is a lot of fun! We cover core concepts for usability and features to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Finally, we write up a Project Plan which is a detailed document to make sure that both we and the client know exactly what to expect.
Liam’s the driving force behind this stage and starts by developing the wireframe design. We cover how the app should work for the best user experience. At this point there is no aesthetic design, it’s purely structural. We send this to the client for their feedback and usually they’ll tell us they love it and we move on to the aesthetics. We choose the colours, gradients, typography and iconography to bring the design to life. At this point we have a photorealistic version of how the app will look and user behaviour expectations (there’s still no code written yet).
Once the designs are approved by our client, we then start writing code and begin the actual development stage, creating the living breathing app itself. Once we have the bones of the app complete and in line with the wireframes, the aesthetic implementation begins and we start adding in animations and transitions to give the app some personality. We test internally and also send it to our client who we ask to test for a minimum of two weeks. While updates are always an option, it’s important to be sure there are no bugs before launch and to squash any if they arise. Once everyone’s happy we submit the app to App Store for approval.
Simplicity. Simplicity is the key to good app design but it requires an enormous deal of discipline. What we’re really talking about is achieving more with less. There’s always the temptation to put a button on the screen for every problem, this is the ‘easy’ approach, but you end up with a screen jam packed full of buttons and that’s no good. There’s also the temptation to show off your skills by designing bright and shiny things purely for the sake of it, but it’s rarely the best solution either unless it’s helping to guide the user somehow. You have to have the discipline to question every element, every pixel, and evaluate it’s purpose. We use as few buttons as possible to deliver the best user experience imaginable. It’s all about finding balance but as a rule, when it comes to mobile app design, less is more.
I’m both a creative and a busy guy, I always have a million thoughts in my head that need to be organized. I need something to organize me with as little effort as possible. The great thing about Daylite is we don’t have to actually think about using Daylite. It’s like my own personal assistant; we’re a small business so I can’t justify having a full time PA but with Daylite I really don’t need one. The fact that Daylite organizes my calendar and keeps me alert to what’s going on means less distractions, fewer mistakes and greater productivity. Create DM is just over 3.5 years old. We’ve grown quite fast as a business, we started with 2 people and now we’re 4 full time with a generous handful of freelancers on the side. I’ve always been keen to keep our headcount low and we’ve stayed pretty small in terms of people but just doubling our small but busy team made communication more difficult. We wouldn’t interrupt each other to share the fact that we’ve just had an email or taken a phone call from with a client. You don’t want to interrupt one another when we’re all so busy but that can be a problem. What we can do is put it in Daylite to make sure everyone is informed of the client management activities. I also personally love how Daylite handles email. I can get up to 150 emails a day. When it comes to clients that have gotten in touch in February and don’t decide to move forward until September, it’s easy to forget little details in that time frame but it’s important to be able to pick up where you last left off so you avoid starting the relationship all over again. I might not easily remember every discussion with every customer in perfect detail, but Daylite can and effortlessly. It’s a way for me to dump my brain in one place and trust it’s there when I need it. It’s there on my computer and it’s in my pocket and in my bag because I have it on all of my iOS devices. I don’t have to fear that I’ve left my Macbook Pro in the studio, had a call with a client and then hope I remember to enter it in Daylite. I can put it in Daylite as soon as I hang up the phone because Daylite is right there in my hand on my iPhone.
Daylite has made us more efficient and made us more reliable. Day 1 when we started Create DM we were scribbling notes on paper while sitting on the floor speaking to clients (waiting for our furniture to arrive). The thing is, notes get lost and pieces of paper don’t alert you when they’re overdue. As soon as we started using Daylite, we stopped missing things. We were less stressed about the wrong things and could focus on the right ones. Things that don’t improve by keeping them front of mind like remembering to make a call in 7 days, I don’t have to remember because Daylite reminds me. It frees my mind to get on with what I need to do. Daylite is great at taking unnecessary distractions away so you can focus on doing a better job. I can confidently say that Daylite has made us a better business. It’s also made our company a happier place to work because it removed so much of the unnecessary stress.