We’re ZoCo Design. If we haven’t met or worked together before, you’ll find we can be a bit unorthodox at times. For example, do we really need to introduce ourselves right now? Probably not but hopefully this helps you get to know us a bit better and, more importantly, gives you additional things to look for when searching for your next UX design partner.
We’re champions for human-centered tech, like to ask questions, believe in the power of design, and we truly care–about our clients, our work, and our employees.
Oh, and we converted an old Irish pub into our new studio. We think it’s pretty cool. You can check it out here.
Long walks on the beach and fireside chats aren’t really our thing but empowering people, reimagining futures, and bringing bold visions to life are. And we do that by approaching complex problems a bit differently. Let us explain.
There is so much that goes into creating a kick-ass product, but do you ever consider how the approach to the work can make a drastic difference in the quality and experience of the product?
We have clients come to us needing support on projects for all kinds of reasons. Really want to pull on our heartstrings? Tell us about how you need to put things on hold while you re-work a vital design system, or need to scrap an entire project and start over.
Unfortunately, we see this all too often when a client works with a studio who, let’s say, didn’t take the right approach to the project. Nothing irks us more when we come across something that was clearly “copy and pasted” from work they did with a previous client. This is far too common in agency life.
In case you haven’t caught on where we’re going with this yet: we do not operate that way. In fact, it kind of grosses us out.
Think about it this way: if you design a financial investment portal with the same approach taken to design a project management tool, do you think it’s going to reach its potential? Probably not. You can apply this to research and branding projects as well.
It’s also worth noting that creativity and problem-solving become restricted when you approach a new project with a “recycle mentality”.
This is why we always view each project through a new lens with a fresh perspective. Each project is unique and should be treated that way. We also do not follow processes and UX methodologies as prescribed. We customize our approach each and every time to fit the context of what we’re working on, as well as the client.
Someone once said something super profound about experimentation and how it relates to progress. Actually, there are probably dozens of well recited quotes on it.
The point is, we also believe in experimentation here at ZoCo. We are always reflecting on our workshops, design iterations, user interviews, and everything in between, asking ourselves how could that have been better? What could we have done differently to get a better outcome?
Work is never one-size-fits-all and the approach shouldn’t be either.
We work to fully understand our partner’s business and remove ambiguity. We want to know their challenges, long-term goals and vision, wins and losses. We dig deep to gain an understanding, allowing us to approach a project holistically.
Warning: this also means things may get a bit uncomfortable. There will be tough questions and we’ll both feel a bit vulnerable at times but that’s the point. If you embrace it, lean into it, you’ll see the magic happen.
We’ve intentionally built workshops and processes to help lead our clients into a vulnerable space, where they’re willing to share their fears and unfiltered aspirations. It allows us to break down barriers, challenge assumptions, and learn the right questions to ask–the ones that weren’t obvious at first.
Next, sprinkle in a dose of skepticism. We’re a bit skeptical when we listen to clients, stakeholders, and users. But this allows us to validate what they’ve told us through research (which we love). This means the client can feel confident in the direction they’re headed, and have the research and data to back it up. It’s a win-win.
By being a bit vulnerable and skeptical, asking the right questions, and validating through research, we create insights that allow us to:
Many studios do not take this approach. Instead, they lead with and try to solve problems with design before they have a good foundation of knowledge–of the client, users, competitors, the marketplace. We practice and advocate for the opposite. We know having extensive knowledge excels and amplifies the ability to problem solve.
We multiply product and UX teams’ impact by working alongside them, collaboratively. We are not the type of partner to disappear for three months and magically reappear with a completed deliverable like some magician. We don’t approach a project from a typical typical client > service provider relationship. That’s too transactional.
We want to work with our clients as if we’re on the same team and dig into challenges together.
We have expertise and knowledge and so do our clients. We can only expect to find success if we come to the table as true peers, laying all of our skills, knowledge, and tools out on the table for all to see, including our flaws, assumptions, and vulnerabilities.
This collaboration is extremely intentional and important for multiple reasons:
This extends beyond just UX and product teams. Think about the roadblocks that can exist between design and development. Design will be completed in a silo and then handed off to developers expecting them to understand the reasoning and technicalities of it.
Things get missed, misinterpreted, and then all kinds of things can go wrong. That is why we make sure to include developers throughout the process.
The collaboration doesn’t stop outside of client meetings either. Our team collaborates internally with co-workers who are not on the project through regular, team-wide creative review sessions to seek feedback.
We believe consistent collaboration adds momentum to creative problem solving and that can really propel product design forward. This ensures no project will ever be limited to only the ideas and creativity of the project team.
Don’t just take our word for it. See what SonarMD and Provide had to say about our recent work together.