People Over Process - Responsive Process - Responsive Web Design, Part 1 (2015)

Responsive Web Design, Part 1 (2015)

Responsive Process

People Over Process

One final thing I’ve learned in constantly evolving our workflow is that the process you choose to use is much less important than the people using it. If you want to build better web products, start by developing your people. This will get you further than any tweak to your process or workflow.


Along these same lines, I’d recommend reading Flow72 by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In this book, he explains the research he has done to better understand individual happiness. He describes what he calls the “flow channel,” charting skill level along the x-axis against challenge level along the y-axis. The flow channel is the area where your skill is met with an adequate challenge. Too much challenge for your skill creates anxiety and too little challenge for your skill results in boredom.

A diagram representing the “flow channel” described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book, Flow
A diagram representing the “flow channel” described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book, Flow.

This can be translated to what we do by considering where we challenge ourselves in our day-to-day work. At Sparkbox, we talk about a culture of learning. That (hopefully) means the skill of my team is continually increasing. It follows, then, that to be happy we need to find continually increasing challenges to match our continually increasing skill. It’s our responsibility to balance this need for innovation with financial responsibility in the budgets our clients have.

This is tricky. For us, it’s meant we needed to stop reinventing the wheel; it’s led us to consider libraries of well-tested interface elements as opposed to repeatedly solving the same problems on every project. It’s meant we need to understand where each of our customers should spend money to innovate. And it has required quite a bit of transparency between those clients and our team so that we’re all on the same page.

In the end, it makes for a more content team — one that loves the work they do because it challenges them in just the right way. And it makes for a more content client — one that respects your recommendations about where and why they should invest. This is excellent for everyone involved.