Working for foreign clients often requires you to work remotely. And it is not a secret kept behind closed doors that working remotely can resemble a long-distance relationship. You just need to go the extra mile to make it work - and still do your best to keep the quality intact!
The story was no different when we started working with clients from Saudi Arabia. Our first Middle East partner operates under the umbrella of the Ministry of Labour, employing almost 500 employees. With our help, they were able to expand their already huge portfolio and create a new initiative whose main goal is to accelerate and focus on job creation for young Saudi’s.
We built a platform with the main goal of galvanising the small business market in Saudi Arabia. Facilitating the shift from local selling points only to an e-commerce system is one side of the coin. The other side is to introduce social commerce to the already huge social media market in Saudi Arabia, such as Twitter, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
Transparency as a key to success
The secret ingredient for success in projects driven remotely is trust. As we all know, trust isn’t something you get in advance, so we had to earn it. To do this we had to do the following:
It is easy to start working remotely from the day one and fail later. So, to get to know each other, establish vital business goals, and later to draft a co-operation plan, we had to conduct extensive workshops.
Surround our new business partner with the most trusted individuals we can find. A bespoke team of backend and frontend developers, QA’s and designers.
Adjusting to the changing needs, priorities and, of course, to the impossible to predict obstacles. Communication on a daily basis is crucial here.
Incorporating Scrum Methodology wasn't anything new for us or the clients. Working iteration by iteration helped us to build the most efficient product possible and still keep the business goal intact.
New design process for Arabic countries
The fact that we were facing a whole new level of challenge wasn’t a surprise for us. Design for Arabic countries required us to conduct extensive research. From the start, we had been aware of the main differences between the standard users we were dealing with day to day. But to deliver an uber-user-friendly application for Saudi Arabia, we had to understand every single detail - the help we got from our partner’s side was indispensable.
At first, we needed to create a unique design and frontend process that would be sufficient for everybody - Augmented Team. To avoid misunderstanding, we needed to be on the same page from start to finish. To do so, we created some ground rules; here are the key solutions that helped us succeed with this project:
After a few quick tests, we discovered that designing in a standard Latin way was a no go. At first, it seemed the easiest way but later it generated communication problems on the designer-developer line. Simple mirroring just didn't achieve a full user-friendly experience.
A simple fix that we discovered shortly after (RTL standard with Latin typeface) helped established a comfortable communication process - which has worked perfectly ever since, both for Developers and for the client.
To deliver a product requires extensive tests from both sides. Every feature evolves from day one and hardly ever is the first idea the perfect one. Working in iterations lets us conduct tests on a certain feature in the earlier stages (e.g. design).
Keeping in mind that “done is better than perfect”, implementing such tools as CrazyEgg or Google Analytics helps us to gather vital information regarding user behaviour. Later, we can deliver the perfect solution.
"We truly believe that we’ve fully embraced the idea of designing not for a different language but for a completely different culture - and it is awesome!"
Anna Zarudzka, CEO Chilid