Using actual devices to review mobile websites
At Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Stephen Gates (Vice President and Creative Director for Global Brand Design) and his digital design team are constantly coming up with new ways to best show off their 9 hotel brands. They’ve managed to accelerate their production and gain buy-in from a dispersed global team of designers/developers, strategists and stakeholders – but how? Their entire design studio and clients have started using Adobe Edge Inspect.
Starwood customers are accessing hotel, location and accommodation information on many different devices these days. Stephen and his team have a goal to ensure that the mobile web experience is optimal, consistent and fantastic every time – unique to each brand – whether it applies to Westin or W Hotels.
We have been getting some feedback and kudos directly from Stephen about Edge Inspect, and I wanted to share some of his thoughts and insights here as he and his team celebrate the launch of their 9 new mobile web sites.
Congratulations to you and your team Stephen, and thank you for sharing your stories with our readers!
Interview with Stephen Gates, Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Bruce Bowman: How have you and your teams used Edge Inspect?
Stephen Gates: We have found great success in using Edge Inspect two different ways – the first was in the design and development of mobile experiences on multiple devices but also using it to present our design work to our internal clients.
SG: From the design and development perspective we just launched new mobile web sites for our 9 brands in 7 languages and Edge Inspect was key for us to be able to produce that much work in a short amount of time. Our process keeps the entire team involved through the entire life of the project so we need other designers, IA’s, developers, project managers, strategists and all of the team to see the designs and the code as it is being developed. There is no substitute for things like how we don’t need to do full prototypes; we can just load flat images in a quick HTML file. Design ideation and iterations are able to progress incredibly fast since we are able to work like this. Once that work was done we also found it invaluable to then be able to present our work, whether it was static JPEG’s or code, to our clients on an actual smartphone so they could have real interactions with it.
BB: What other tools have you tried while testing on mobile devices?
SG: There are browser plugins to mimic screen resolutions, apps that mirror design files from your laptop onto a device and even websites like Responsinator – but none of those really solved the problems we were trying to tackle as well as Edge Inspect did.
BB: When did you start to use Edge Inspect for presentation and reviews?
SG: As a company we moved to designing mobile first about two years ago and both our design and development teams started using Edge Inspect in mid-2012. The development team was using it to help with the coding of our new mobile web sites and my design team was having a problem because when you are designing any mobile experience there is no substitute for being able to see your design on the actual device. We were also having problems because we found some clients would really like a design when they saw it on a big screen but didn’t love it nearly as much when they saw it on an actual device.
SG: Trying to solve these problems made us take a step back to look at our design process and we realized that to be successful we couldn’t just be smart – we also had to be agile. We had to change the way we were working and presenting to be able to quickly see our designs on real devices while we were working on them; we had to test interaction designs by building quick prototypes; and then we had to present that work to our clients in a completely new way so our clients could experience our designs on a device rather than just looking at it from a distance on a larger screen.
SG: Making this change made a huge difference in the creation of our new mobile web sites. It was great when we worked with our amazing developers on building these sites and could see the code on multiple devices simultaneously. It was pretty awesome to see the whole team show up to meetings, pull out their device, open Edge Inspect and see the room full of people going through the designs in real-time, in real size on their own devices.
BB: Was it difficult for you and your teams to convince your organization to adopt Edge Inspect as a standard?
SG: Not that difficult at all because while we are designing and developing it works across platforms and we had to have something like that since everyone on the team has their favorite tools and editors. We have now switched over so that all design reviews for my team and for the entire Starwood mobile team are being done with Edge Inspect. When we decided to roll this out we either emailed everyone ahead of time to install the app on their devices or just took a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting to get it done. After that everyone knew how we were going to be presenting work so they showed up with the app ready to go. Couldn’t be easier and we love it.
Stephen has shared a more complete set of images of their recent work on his Behance portfolio.
For more information about Starwood Hotels & Resorts see https://www.starwoodhotels.com and you can follow Stephen on Twitter: @sdgates or read his Blog for inspiration & ideas: http://blog.stephengates.com/.
Do you have a story about how you’ve benefitted from Edge Inspect? We’d love to hear it, so please leave a comment or get in touch.