How We Collaborate in Copperleaf Labs

October 29, 2020 Ian Muirhead
Collaborating with Clients on Innovative Products

At Copperleaf, we collaborate with our clients to ensure our solutions address their unique business challenges and deliver maximum value. We strongly believe in user-centered design—an iterative process in which our teams focus on the user's needs in each phase of the design and development process.

What Does Our Process Look Like?

Every successful product organization needs a process in place to incorporate input on features and validate development and design choices. Copperleaf’s process is based on Design Thinking—a problem-solving methodology that puts the user’s needs at the heart of the design journey. The process consists of 6 stages:  Understand, Define, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Validate.

1. Understand

When we are considering adding a new feature or product to our roadmap, we conduct research to validate it. The first step is to understand who we are designing for and why we are creating the new feature.

Who: Which organizations and personas will be impacted by this change? Which clients can we interview to better understand the challenges we are trying to solve? Which internal stakeholders should we get input from?

Why: Why is this feature or product enhancement needed? What is the benefit for the user? What product differentiation can be gained by creating this new capability?

This stage enables us to explore ideas and broaden our knowledge about the end user’s pain points, the business impacts, and the potential benefits of the change.

2. Define

Now that we have a broad understanding of the problem we're trying to solve and who will benefit from the change, we can create at least one hypothesis that defines the solution for our clients.

During this stage, our product teams will narrow our focus to the context, desired outcomes, and potential solutions to the problem. We create goals, success metrics, and signals—using Google’s HEART Framework to measure user experience based on Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention and Task Success.

3. Sketch

Once we've defined our hypothesis, and aligned stakeholder agreement on how to measure success, the next step is to sketch solutions. The goal is to produce as many innovative and desirable solutions as possible. An emphasis on fast iterations and timely reviews allows us to produce a broad set of potential solutions economically.

4. Decide

Having generated a number of ideas, we now have to decide which idea presents the most desirable, viable, and feasible solution to the problem. Sometimes there will be a clear winner, and other times, multiple solutions solve the problem. Regardless, we will need to build and test the potential solutions in the prototype stage.

5. Prototype

The purpose of prototyping is to actualize our design and allow us to test the feasibility of our solutions. Depending on the level of user validations required, the prototyping method will vary. For example, if we are looking to validate a complicated interactivity problem, we would look at a high fidelity, interactive prototype. For a simpler concept, we would choose lower cost options to bring the concept forward to the next stage.

6. Validate

This is the moment of truth—when users get to interact with the prototype! The objective here is to generate statistically significant data to validate our assumptions so that we can either move ahead to implementation or regress back to an earlier (define understand sketch decide prototype) stage.

Validating our prototypes is key to getting to the right solution efficiently and effectively. The product team decides how best to validate the solution by asking questions like:

  • What level of validation does this solution require?
  • How many clients should participate in the validation? This is a key consideration as it can reveal biases and help us discover further insights into our personas.

In this final stage of our process, we also measure outcomes against the initial goals, success metrics, and signals outlined earlier.

The Benefits of Iterative Development

It's unlikely that any product team gets everything right the first time. By using an iterative process, we are able to make ongoing changes and refinements based on user feedback and needs. It gives our product team confidence that their efforts are being directed towards a final product that adds real value for our clients.


Learn more about Copperleaf Labs here. If you’re interested in joining Copperleaf Labs to provide input on future initiatives and products, please register here.

About the Author

Ian Muirhead

Ian is the Director of Product Design at Copperleaf. He is an experienced leader skilled in design thinking, user-centered design, and frontend architecture with a passion for the creation of cohesive design and product experiences.

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