Behind the Scenes with Infinite Red

What it’s like to be an Infinite Red client

A roadmap to your next app!

I’m very proud of the public footprint that my team has across the world. We’re about 30-odd designers, developers, and management staff and yet are known by developers all around the globe. This is mostly driven by our conference, our open source, and our community.

But what’s it like to, you know, actually work with Infinite Red on one of your projects? I’ll bring you behind the scenes and give you a peek.

The Goal

Our goal with clients revolves around trust — building trust, long-term, and a great relationship with our clients. That’s how great software is built. Adversarial or overly formal relationships result in poor software and products in the end.

We also know that trust isn’t implicit. Trust is earned by consistency over time. So we build our whole process, from start to finish, with that in mind.

This is how we achieve it.

The Sales Meeting

When you reach out to us, you’ll get a response from Missy Warren, our sales coordinator. Missy has been with us for over a year and handles most of the early communication with possible new clients.

Missy asks the “welcome questions” — a general idea of what the project is about, a rough idea of budget expectations, and also timeline expectations. If you have a budget that is too low for the level of service we’re tuned for, it’s nice to know that up front so we can refer you to another agency that might meet your needs. If you want an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), she also coordinates getting one of those signed.

She then schedules a meeting with one or more of the three owners of Infinite Red: Todd Werth, Gant Laborde, or yours truly (Jamon Holmgren). We still conduct almost all of the first sales meetings with potential clients ourselves and it’s a great way to get to know our clients from the very beginning. We also bring in Justin Huskey, our Head of Design, if the project includes design work.

This meeting is always conducted on a Zoom video call. We’re a fully distributed company — I live in southwest Washington state, Todd lives in Las Vegas, and Gant lives in New Orleans. If you’re not able to meet on Zoom, we might not be the right company for you, as that’s where a lot of our business is conducted.

Your friendly Infinite Red sales team!

We have a few goals with this meeting. First and foremost, we want to meet you! We’re a very relationship-driven company and this shows up from the beginning. We are curious who you are, what makes you tick, and what led you to reach out to us. We also want to get a rough sense of the project you’re looking to do — in broad strokes; the details can come later. It’s important to see if this is something with which we can deliver an amazing experience.

After the meeting, we gather all the materials and put together a proposal. You’ll receive the proposal in PDF format and we will often schedule a follow-up meeting to go over it with you. This proposal includes everything from a high-level scope to an estimate to a proposed team with bios, and more.

Sample pages from a real proposal (with a few details obscured)

If everything looks good, we’ll send over a Client Services Agreement and Scope of Work via DocuSign and schedule the team to start working!

The Kickoff Meeting

This is where the sales team hands off the project to the operations team and you get to meet the people who will be working on your project. It’s usually done on the first day of the new project (typically Monday). We do this over Zoom (naturally) and Jed Bartausky (our lead Project Manager) introduces everyone. He’ll talk about the timeline, the goals of the project, each person’s roles, and talk more about our project process.

In some cases, we are fitting into your process and project management, and so we will dig more into how you do things. In other cases, we’re bringing the project management portion, so we’ll discuss that.

Design

If we’re doing the design for your app, our design team gets started. Our design team helps you create the most thoughtful app for your business and your users. Competing in tech is stressful, and our goal is to make it less so in the most sincere way possible.

We start with product positioning and strategy. Before any successful project is complete, it begins as a bunch of simple ideas. Our first step is to help you get those ideas out on paper, organized in the proper context of your goals, and prioritized based on your specific project needs. We’ll then organize those in an easy-to-read strategy document that will act as a roadmap for the rest of the project. This gets presented in a Zoom meeting and you’ll have plenty of opportunity for feedback.

We then move on to user experience design. Most apps and websites look nice on the outside, but very few of them connect with users in a way that feels natural and effortless to them. That’s user experience design — something you’ll find at the core of our projects. Using research, wireframes, and interactive prototypes, we’ll make sure that users feel comfortable within the screens of your project.

Next is visual and user interface design. This is where all of the puzzle pieces begin to come together in the design phase. We’ll bring it all together with full fidelity, beautiful designs in a cohesive visual language that’s unmistakably your unique style and brand.

We then provide the development team with everything they need to build the project using Invision.

Development

Toward the end of the design phase, our developers create a detailed breakdown of the app using Trello.

An example of a real app breakdown board (with permission from the client, of course!)

Each of these “cards” has more detail about the feature along with a link to the Invision design.

Example of a specific “card” in Trello

We then set up the Github repository for code sharing and spin up a new app. If we’re building the app in React Native, we’ll usually use our Ignite Bowser boilerplate, which fast-forwards through the first 2–3 weeks of development effort by bringing in a bunch of great defaults.

We research and estimate each individual task, assigning an estimate (in effort points) to the Trello card. Most tasks are broken down to their simplest form, and some tasks are grouped into distinct sections. Your team works with ours to prioritize the Trello board, sorting from top-to-bottom — most critical at the top to “nice-to-haves” at the bottom.

Our software developers take a week’s worth of work at a time and work their way down the stack. If at any point we run into delays or anything that will mean that week’s worth of work won’t get done in time, our project manager will let you know immediately.

We use real-time chat via Slack to communicate with you as well as each other. Progress is communicated throughout the week (not just in one meeting). And we keep iterating over the weekly process until the project is done.

We also get a work-in-progress version of the app into your hands as soon as possible. Even when it’s in a half-finished state, it’s great to be able to play with it and get early impressions.

Example of a Slack update mid-project

Beta Launch

Our team works with yours to test and QA the app until it is ready to go out to beta users. In the case of mobile apps, we use TestFlight and Google Play’s beta program to distribute the app to those users. For websites and web apps, we provide a beta URL. Feedback is communicated back to you and we collect usage metrics as well to ensure that you can make necessary product decisions.

Launch!

We help you set up in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store as well as web and get ready for launch. When the timing is right, we push it live and you can kick off your marketing campaign!

Throughout the project, our team is friendly, professional, and thoughtful. We have all senior-level designers and developers and have been doing consulting for a long time (over 15 years for me now!) Most of my team has worked with me for over five years. The goal of building trust takes time, but we almost always achieve it, and with it a better product for your startup or business.

Post-Launch

Software projects don’t end there. There is usually a long list of features for version 1.1 that we get started with, if budget allows. There will also be bugs that can only be discovered effectively when real users start using the app, and we’ll help address those in future phases / releases.

We are pretty flexible in this phase, with some clients engaging us as-needed and others setting up maintenance contracts or retainers.

Want to learn more?

If you have more questions about what it’s like to work with us, feel free to reach out to us! You can email Missy and me at hello@infinite.red or message me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamonholmgren.

Jamon Holmgren is co-founder and CTO of Infinite Red, a mobile app/web design and dev company based in the Portland area & distributed across the USA. He lives in southwest Washington State with his wife and four kids. Follow him on Twitter for more React and React Native discussions, dad jokes, and random pictures of him in goalie gear.


Behind the Scenes with Infinite Red was originally published in Red Shift on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Behind the Scenes with Infinite Red