Design for Life

Agency: MMT Digital

Ben Rudman, CEO at award-winning agency MMT Digital, tells Figaro Digital about the company’s design and build methodology and why the future will be driven by tailored user experiences

Based in London and the Midlands, MMT Digital implement UX, and design and build bespoke websites for a range of clients including comparethemarket.com, Allergan and AXELOS. Having grown to a team of 68 in the last 17 years and picked up a raft of awards, including six RARs in 2015, the agency has evolved alongside current marketing technology.

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So what are some of the challenges MMT Digital’s clients’ face, and what do those issues tell us about the state of web design and development in 2016?

“Many of the solutions we provide need to be unique to our clients’ businesses,” says Rudman, “but there are common challenges on many of these projects. We have developed our bespoke planning at the outset of a project, ‘Phase 0’, in response to these challenges and they really fall into three areas.

“Firstly, to define a customer-centric vision for a solution which matches their objectives. Secondly, to provide a creative representation of this vision, informed by different user experience tools and processes which will be refined during the delivery phase. Thirdly, to provide a technical strategy which matches the vision, working closely with IT teams and marketing to ensure that the solution is going to fit with the wider technical ecosystem and meet the ongoing needs of the business.

“The outcome of a successful Phase 0 will ensure that all stakeholders, including those not directly involved in the project delivery, will have had involvement in shaping the project’s vision. We’ll have a single team – client and agency – who are primed to start the delivery with a clear backlog of work.

“The final challenge is that we may often be working to tight timeframes. To cater for that we can flex our Phase 0 toolkit so that it can be delivered in weeks if necessary, to ensure that we can get a minimum viable product out to market for our client.”

Custom-built for customers

The work of any successful agency rests on a clear methodology. At the broadest level, says Rudman, at MMT Digital these are transparency, openness, fairness and quality.

“During the delivery phase, which is usually the longer part of the project, we have developed a series of processes based on Scrum (the most popular agile methodology) but which have been heavily customised over the last five years (drawing on the benefits of other agile methodologies such as Kanban and XP) to cater for that very specific agency and client relationship, which Scrum was not originally designed for.”

In practice, Rudman says, the agency operates across the project management spectrum, from lean at one end to waterfall (or ‘Scrumfall’) at the other, but for the majority of clients the right place is somewhere in the middle.

“This enables us to work with clients to deliver a minimum viable product – the simplest solution with which they can go to market. We then move through a process of understanding how the solution is performing: what’s working, what’s not and iterating upon that. This is often called the ‘build, measure, learn’ cycle. As we combine our UX, creative and technical expertise, we can deliver solutions that are truly focused on the needs of the users. The end result are websites, intranets, applications and products which meet the needs of our clients’ customers in order to deliver their commercial goals.”

As digital becomes the default channel for so much marketing communication, it inevitably becomes harder for brands and agencies to stand out in a crowded and competitive environment. So what distinguishes MMT Digital from other agencies operating in this sector?

“We have a very strong technical heritage which has enabled us to be not only highly proficient at delivering marketing and ecommerce websites but also bespoke web applications in a range of sectors,” says Rudman.

“When blended with our approach to project planning, Phase 0, and the UX aspect of what we deliver, we believe we are able to not only differentiate our service but deliver better products for users. That means better returns and performance for the organisations with which we work. This approach is only possible because of our agile delivery methodology which we have revised over the past five years to make it applicable to the specific circumstances of an agency and client relationship. Not only do we have successful projects but a ‘oneteam’ mentality which fosters a sense of camaraderie and engenders commitment from the people on both sides to make sure that their shared goals and vision are successful.“

The automated future

Looking ahead, says Rudman, 2016 will see a continued focus on tailored user experiences. “This will see companies looking to maximise every opportunity through their touchpoints and continuing to use tools such as user personas and marketing automation to reach their customers on a personal level.

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“One of the biggest trends last year was marketing automation and this is set to be an even greater focus for 2016. It’s extremely useful for companies to customise their approach and develop perfectly timed, bespoke messages to different customer segments. I think that the future for agencies will be for greater specialisation as tools and technologies continue to offer greater degrees of integration and complexity. This provides a real challenge for marketers: which agency is going to be right for the challenge they face at a particular time? Specialist agencies need to work well together to deliver the solution that the client needs.”