Creating a new product from scratch can be very expensive and time consuming. For starters, it can even be difficult to get everyone on the same page as to what the specific requirements for minimal viable product actually are. Getting buy-in from stakeholders can be almost impossible without something they can visualise, and the potential pitfalls are numerous.
Developed at Google Ventures, Design Sprints are a structured way of taking a problem and using the collective knowledge of your team to design a solution, prototype that solution and test it with real people… all in the space of 5 days!
Our team of facilitators will guide you and your team members through the Design Sprint process, either face-to-face, or remotely, drawing on your experience and knowledge and working together to build a prototype, get it tested and ready for development.
Sprints offer the opportunity to test new ideas, quickly solve problems and deliver tried & tested solutions.
The Virtual Forge design sprint facilitators are skilled and seasoned professionals with a collective experience of +20 years in Product Design, UX & UI Design, Product Management and User Research & Testing.
In this five-day process, they'll act as your guides, helping you tackle your specific challenge step by step. They'll assist you in creating a prototype, testing it out, and using the valuable insights gained to adapt and refine a working method that delivers the results you're aiming for.
Applying the design sprint methodology specifically to the process of designing and developing new products or enhancing existing ones. It includes activities such as defining the challenge, ideation, prototyping, and user testing, all tailored to the product design context.
Sometimes your team is aligned on exactly the right way forward to solve the problem you're facing, you just don't know where to begin to get your ideas laid out on screen. The Virtual Forge will tailor your design sprint day to your specific needs, offering a flexible schedule of sprint days that will deliver the same high fidelity, comprehensively tested prototype you would get from a full Product Design Sprint.
Providing training and workshops to individuals or teams interested in learning and implementing the design sprint methodology. It covers the principles, tools, and techniques used in design sprints, equipping participants with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct their own sprints.
Do not allow months of development work to hinder the launch of your next significant endeavor. With Design Sprint Facilitation, you can condense all that effort into just one week, swiftly transitioning from conceptualisation to implementation with exceptional speed and effectiveness.
In just 5 days, we will guide you through the process of taking your idea from concept to a fleshed-out, fully functional prototype, that's been tested on real users, and is ready for development.
A Virtual Forge Design Sprint can help you to bypass months of discovery, requirement gathering and wireframing. Bringing you right to the point of being able to start development immediately. Also because your prototype has been fully tested, you know you have the right solution, so there is no money wasted on developing a product that's not fit for purpose.
A Design Sprint can be invaluable simply for getting your whole team aligned on what the specific problem is that you are trying to solve. Over the course of the first 2 days the team works together to agree what the purpose of the product is, what the long-term goals are, and what are the biggest challenges to success.
The user is always at the heart of the design sprint methodology. There is a specific focus on understanding the challenges and pain points that users may be experiencing and how we get past those to deliver the best experience possible for them. This ultimately leads to increased engagement, greater buy-in and higher productivity.
The Virtual Forge is a trusted, global software development company with a solid history of delivering comprehensive solutions that equip your business with the finest technology available.
Our experienced design sprint facilitators are dedicated to carefully design the design-thinking process and imagine the business-focused solutions that fuel your growth.
Similar to today’s world, a software development and data process is not an immutable force. It changes. It develops. It grows. At The Virtual Forge, we have an agile mindset that makes us capable of adapting to unforeseen circumstances.
Our team comprises seasoned professionals from diverse backgrounds, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise.
A team of creative and analytical minds leverage cutting-edge technologies and out-of-the-box thinking to deliver innovative software solutions. We’re always on the lookout for new technologies that can enhance our offer, helping our clients materialise their needs into new systems that streamline their business processes.
Embracing challenges is acknowledged by our experts as a common part of any custom software development and data journey. With unwavering persistence and confidence in our capabilities, we tackle every obstacle head-on. You can rely on us to persevere until we find effective solutions, ensuring successful outcomes for your project.
Quality is our core focus. Our team ensures high standards through rigorous quality assurance processes, thorough testing, code reviews, and continuous improvement.
Our track record is a testament to our reliability. Always by our client’s side, ensuring that nothing is left to chance. With our commitment to excellence, we pride ourselves on delivering dependable solutions that businesses can trust.
During a Product Design Sprint, we create and evaluate a high-fidelity, realistic prototype, by engaging real users. All the tests conducted during this process are carefully recorded and compiled into a comprehensive report, which will be sent to you. This report will provide you with all the necessary information to proceed confidently with your project.
All sprints take place Monday to Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM. Our team is available at a variety of locations, including Bath, London and Philadelphia.
We recommend that you select a team of between 4-6 people with relevant knowledge of the problem you are trying to solve. A mixture of potential users, technical knowledge, managerial roles and at least one subject matter expert.
A design sprint will make sure you get everyone on the same page as to what the problem we're trying to solve is. Align on what the best result for our solution could help you to achieve, whilst highlighting the biggest threats to our success.
Understanding where your solution sits and how it will solve your business strategy problem, by defining the steps we need to complete to confirm that our objectives are met.
Bring everything we've learnt so far about our problem and potential solution, together with a healthy dose of inspiration, and then begin designing that solution together. Drawing on everybody's knowledge and experience to produce a product design that meets all our objectives
Now the design team steps in to turn the design into a high fidelity, fully functional prototype ready for user testing. The whole team gets to explore it too, before we refine it, make new features if required, and the deliver your final prototype, ready for development.
Testing your prototype with real people and your wider team to bring in real results. We will then gather the data together to provide you with valuable insights and refine the design where required.
Cutting-edge technologies and instruments are employed throughout our process. It couldn't be differently. If we want to build the best, we need to leverage the best.
Staying quiet and static is not part of our core. All our professionals are constantly learning and staying up to date with current certifications, trends, and requirements within the industry - always reaching out to provide the highest quality services to our clients.
Cutting-edge technologies and instruments are employed throughout our design sprint and design process. It's only natural, as building the best requires leveraging the best.
All our professionals are constantly learning and staying up to date with current certifications, trends, and requirements within the industry - always reaching out to provide the highest quality services to our clients and customers.
Our extensive knowledge in the manufacturing sector makes us a trustworthy partner for data-driven digital solutions.
The Virtual Forge team has more than 20 years experience developing custom solutions for Life Sciences clients.
We are experts in designing and developing data-driven custom software solutions for global brands in the automotive industry.
We can leverage our financial expertise to the most in-demand financial software. Our extensive range of customised financial solutions is specifically tailored to address the distinctive challenges faced by your business and sector.
The Virtual Forge is a trusted supplier of data-driven software solutions to Government and the Public Sector.
The Virtual Forge was responsible for creating a new technological solution for CleanCar, a smart analytics platform that can help fleet operators assess the costs and benefits of switching from ICE to EV fleets. The challenge was to rebuild the previous solution from the ground up to be capable of handling the large data influx.
Test automation front loads the testing work. Automated test cases must be implemented by an automation engineer, this process typically takes longer than designing an equivalent set of manual test cases. Once the test cases are implemented, the cost to execute them is very low, since they are executed by a non-human agent (there are possible infrastructure costs associated with hosting the server that runs the automated test cases, but these costs are much lower than the cost of having functional testers run test cases).
Codeless platforms allow testers to record test steps that are executed by a functional tester. These platforms then allow the recorded test steps to be executed in an automated manner. It’s possible to parametrize the test steps, reusing the recorded test steps when there is data or environment variations. Codeless platforms reduce the time needed to create the automated test steps, they also allow for testers without coding skills to implement automated tests. Most of the codeless platforms are paid, and although cost varies from supplier to supplier, using these platforms can significantly increase the project cost.
A code based approach to automated testing brings to the top of the table increased control and flexibility over the implementation of the automated test cases. Test cases are implemented as code, using libraries designed for it. This added flexibility translates into less time needed to improve, extend or modify existing test cases. Code can be reused, which means that as more test cases get implemented, less time is required to implement new test cases.
Yes, failing is an acceptable and valuable option in a design sprint. In fact, embracing the possibility of failure is an integral part of the design sprint methodology. Design sprints encourage experimentation, rapid prototyping, and user testing to gather feedback and learn from failures or shortcomings.
By creating a safe space for testing and exploring ideas, design sprints allow teams to identify and address potential issues early in the process. Failures or setbacks during a sprint provide valuable insights and learning opportunities that can lead to better solutions and iterations.
The success of the sprint relies on active participation, collaboration, and collective decision-making throughout the process. Each day of the sprint builds upon the progress made in the previous days, and continuity is essential to maintain the momentum and ensure a cohesive outcome. Therefore, it is highly recommended that all team members commit to being present throughout the entire duration of the sprint to fully engage in the activities, discussions, and decision-making processes.
During a full Design Sprint workshop, several key participants should be present to ensure a comprehensive and collaborative approach. The Design Sprint benefits from having a diverse group of team members from various disciplines, to bring their unique perspectives and expertise to the table, fostering creativity and holistic problem-solving.
Ideally, the Design Sprint should include 3-6 participants who play key roles in decision-making, possess expertise in the problem area, and represent the design, development, and testing fields within your business.
A Design Sprint is an extraordinary concept to validate a large number of challenges.
It's a highly flexible framework, which be tailored to fit a plethora of different problems. At The Virtual Forge, we have delivered Design Sprints for products, services, internal and external digital solutions. All in all, a Design Sprint is great for almost any kind of challenge.
Yes, testing services can be customised to suit your unique project needs. Testing services are typically flexible and can be tailored to accommodate your specific requirements, whether it's a specific testing methodology, industry compliance, or integration with your existing development processes.
Testing services employ systematic testing methodologies and techniques to identify defects, validate functionality, and ensure that the software meets the desired quality standards. They help uncover issues early in the development cycle, allowing for timely resolution and preventing potential problems in the production environment.
The main benefits of our Software Testing Services are early detection of errors, reduction of risk and validation of the quality of the system.
Software testing is the process of verifying that a software or application does what it is intended to do.
This is not necessary limited to, we also have in consideration:
Quite often we’re able to import at least part of your existing design system into whichever design program you would like to move to. We would then work with your design team to recreate the components in the new software, in brand new, pixel perfect components. These components will be fully layered, meaning we will begin with your smallest components, like icons, and incorporate these into the larger components. Then in the future, updating an icon, will update it throughout your whole component set and libraries.
A prototype is a preliminary representation or simulation of a product or user interface that allows designers to visualise and test their ideas before the final development stage. It serves as a tangible, interactive model that replicates the intended functionality and user experience of the actual product.
Prototypes can range from low-fidelity sketches or wireframes to high-fidelity interactive mockups, depending on the level of detail required to gather meaningful user feedback and validate design decisions. By creating prototypes, UX designers can effectively communicate their concepts, gather user insights, and iterate on designs to refine and improve the overall user experience.
User testing is the process of gathering feedback from users to evaluate and improve the usability and overall user experience of a product or service. It involves observing users as they interact with the product or service and collecting data on their behaviours, attitudes, and opinions. User testing can be conducted in various ways, including in-person interviews, online surveys, and remote usability testing.
The purpose of user testing is to identify areas where users are struggling or encountering issues while using the product or service. User testing helps designers and product teams better understand the needs and preferences of their target audience, enabling them to make informed design decisions and create products that are more intuitive, user-friendly, and effective.
Design sprints emerged as a revolutionary methodology, originating at Google Ventures, to accelerate product development.
In just five days, cross-functional teams collaborate intensely to uncover user needs, analyse market insights, and create prototypes for rapid testing. By compressing months of work into this short timeframe, design sprints minimise risks and allow teams to iterate quickly, resulting in a well-defined vision, refined prototypes, and an actionable roadmap.
This process empowers organisations to confidently move forward, armed with clarity, direction, and a competitive advantage, as they embark on the journey of turning ideas into game-changing innovations.
User Interface Design (UI) focuses on the aesthetics of the design that users will specifically interact with. This includes buttons, typography, visual features, and so on. The specialists at The Virtual Forge will work with you to craft your unique UI design that unlocks the full potential of your solution.
User Experience Design (UX) refers to the overall design and the specific experience, such as feel and impressions, that users journey through when interacting with your website. Here, we focus on finding solutions to all user problems to guarantee an accessible, enjoyable experience.
Yes! Ensuring a support contract is in place means that as a Virtual Forge client you are not simply acquiring an elegant solution, but you are ensuring its maintenance and ongoing development now and in the future.
It depends on the complexity of the issue; oftentimes it can be resolved within the hour. If it is a low priority or particularly complex issue this can take longer, as the fix needs to be channeled through our Agile sprint process from fault finding / diagnosis / fix testing / final deployment. Our clients are liaised with regularly throughout the ticketing process.
An immediate response is automatically generated to our customers so there is a tracking number which can be referenced during triage. With Service operators in Europe and US, response times are typically within 30 minutes during operational hours.
All clients with a The Virtual Forge Servicedesk contract have access to our ticketing system. A ticket can be raised through an online portal, or simply by sending an email. The ticket is received, triaged and answered by our team of analysts. If our first line support are unable to resolve the issue, they will liaise with relevant developers / DevOps teams to address the issue, keeping the customer informed at all stages via our ticketing system
By estimating the work correctly and planning according to the effort required to implement the milestones of a project. Accurately estimating is key to the success of a project. If the estimates match the actuals, there is a high probability of executing the project according to the plan, therefore delivering on time. In order to have accurate estimates, The Virtual Forge relies on experienced business analysts that, together with the client, define the scope of the project, milestone or sprint. Having a good scope definition is a key factor to have accurate estimates.
The cost of custom software development varies depending on the project. Key considerations are project scope, development time and team, technology stack, customisation and Integration, maintenance and support.
Our team is agile and is capable of constantly adapting to solve problems and client expectations. Our process of handling potential changes in requirements fall under two core actions:
Our IT HelpDesk team underpins the products and services of The Virtual Forge, ensuring swift and comprehensive handling of any issues experienced by customers.
Find out more here.
Our Backend development team is specialised in implementing the business logic and data access of the systems we deliver to our clients. This team is focused on understanding and implementing the business rules that underpin our clients’ businesses.
This team is also expert in implementing data access layers that interact with multiple data sources with a particular focus on security, performance and scalability.
At The Virtual Forge, we like to have a good separation between backend and frontend development. With the amount of new frameworks and the evolution of existing ones, keeping up to speed with all of them (backend and frontend) is virtually impossible. We believe in having specialised developers that focus in one of the two areas.
The Front-End team at The Virtual Forge is responsible for creating fast, modern user interfaces across a variety of devices. To do this, they work closely with other teams within the company, including the User Experience and Design team for front-end development, and the backend development and data teams for full stack applications.
All our solutions are built with the highest quality standards in mind. That same quality is achieved by:
The Virtual Forge, through its dedicated project management team, handles all the communication with the relevant stakeholders throughout the whole process.
You can find more here.
Custom software is specifically designed for a particular organisation or user, tailored to address their unique needs and requirements, unlike generic off-the-shelf solutions.
These bespoke solutions focus on a well-defined set of requirements that align with the client's business rules, processes, on-site conditions, and UX/UI design specifications. The development process aims to design, create, deploy, and maintain software that precisely meets the end-user's needs.
This level of customisation allows the development team to intricately connect and prioritise data inputs and outputs throughout the system while maintaining a detailed level of security and crucial compliance. By constructing the software to meet actual needs rather than generic ones, the system can prevent bottlenecks and performance degradation by optimising for real rather than hypothetical usage.
Learn more in our blog post.
The development timeline for custom software can vary significantly depending on various factors. The complexity of the software, the scope of the project, the number of features required, the availability of resources, and the level of customisation needed all play a role in determining the time it takes to develop software.
Ultimately, it is recommended to consult with our experienced professionals who can assess the specific requirements of your project and provide a more accurate estimate of the development timeline.
Working with The Virtual Forge was a pleasure. The relationships that we build, quite quickly, led to a really lovely experience. The whole team was highly efficient, creative and tactical.
Working with The Virtual Forge made everyone enjoy being part of the project. It never felt like two separate teams, but just one big team. Everything felt natural, easy, even when there were challenges.
The Virtual Forge collaborates with several strategic partners to guarantee the delivery of cutting-edge services that meet and exceed clients' expectations. We are trusted by some of the most recognised technological brands in the world.
Snowflake positions itself as the optimal solution for organisations prioritising secure and scalable cloud data management. The security features of the Snowflake Cloud Data Platform, including encryption, access controls, and data masking, play a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive information during the digital revolution.
We begin a 3 part series where we’ll explore how to use low code development platforms together to create an image classifier that can determine if an image contains a man, a woman, or a monkey wearing a business suit, a Kung Fu uniform or casual wear (e.g., jeans & sneakers).
Companies have begun implementing low-code development and citizen development approaches to meet their demand for innovative software solutions. Low-code/no-code development platforms have gained a large adoption in recent years. But do you understand the reasons why?