Nextpage is a full cycle digital design agency. Their goal is to increase the impact of the client brand through innovative digital design solutions. They are inspired by their collaboration with companies that make the future appear just a little closer - the online art gallery V-Art, the hi-tech vertical farm Grower, and the digital media company Lighthouse.
Make it in Ukraine: What has Next Page been up to?
NextPage: Since we launched the agency, we have been increasing the level of complexity of the business challenges we’re solving when developing our apps and websites. Last year we even conducted UX research for the Ukrainian Parliament website. It got a lot of media buzz even though it was just a concept.
Do you work with clients you never met in person? Is it more challenging to work on a project remotely?
In some way, we have been practicing remote work before it became mainstream. We don’t meet most of our clients in person until some project milestones. However, we have a tradition of getting together at some business events or roadshows. I think that regular in-person meetings (for example, once a week) are overrated. Here in Kyiv, we don’t even meet with our local clients so often. It hasn’t hurt our ability to produce exceptional work for our clients.
What are the typical stages of your development process for a given project? Which is most challenging?
We stick to a standardized SDLC (Software development lifecycle), although we spend a lot of time on briefings and customer development. It is important for us to understand the customer’s journey for the tools we create. That is why we always look for valuable insights to make sure our product is user-centric and not just based on design or tech trends. It is sometimes challenging to pull out valuable information on customers’ pains and gains, but we’re pretty good at it.
How do new clients find you?
We mostly use listings and online portfolio networks such as Dribbble and Behance. Some of the works are also displayed on websites such as One Page Love and Muzli.
What are some of your favorite development tools/apps/websites?
We absolutely love Readymag. Some of the clients' presentations are made with the help of this tool. It is absolutely fantastic how Readymag handles design and what solutions they provide. Also, it’s clear that their team is cultivating a sense of great taste with their digests and templates.
How Important is a formal development background/education? Do you think someone can learn everything they need without getting a degree?
There are some private online and offline schools that can help gain tech expertise. However, only extensive practice and constant mentorship can lead you toward achieving success. All of the A-players that we have on our team have started their career path as self-taught talents at companies with challenging projects and great mentorship where they were able to grow from junior specialists to team leads.
What advice can you give a young, inexperienced but motivated software engineer?
Our advice is to find meaning in what they are doing. Software development is not only about writing great code, but it’s also about solving challenges with the power of programming. It’s important to know what challenges a person is motivated to tackle: for example, whether it’s improving medicine with MedTech projects or reforming the banking and finance sphere.
Why do you think we have so many incredible entrepreneurs and innovative developers here?
The main reason is that we need to adapt. Moreover, there are no clear regulations here. In Ukraine it has never been easy to get a decent job, therefore, young people have always been looking for ways to make ends meet. I believe that the IT and digital industries may be a good fit for young people looking for a workplace where they could thrive. In addition, the IT industry average salaries in Ukraine boost young people’s motivation. Another reason is that in the past the IT industry market niche wasn’t fully occupied, which provided plenty of opportunities for starting small and achieving great results pretty fast.
What is your dream project/ideal client? Why?
I would say that our ideal project is something related to mass production: either it is a Playstation OS or a Governmental portal. Mass production usually has the most impactful examples in the IT industry. For example, a proper UX or speed load could save users a minute of life every day, which in the long run could improve years of people’s lives. After all, the mission of every digital product, whether it is Netflix or Uber, is to make people happier in the most innovative way.
What was the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Building up a strategy and a vision for a company was the hardest. I guess a lot of people face moments of uncertainty when they don’t have a clue what their business and career is about. Even though it seems you possess excellent skills and an outstanding portfolio and your clients are satisfied with your services, there is still this lack of ultimate meaning. That is why defining who you are and what your company is may become a very challenging task that turns out to be the most interesting one in the long run.
What qualities do you look for when interviewing candidates?
First of all, we want to define how motivated a candidate is to pursue personal growth within our company. Any employer doesn’t want to find himself or herself in a situation where an employee takes another job offer because of a slightly higher salary.
On the other hand, we don’t want to hire team members that won’t move the needle and won’t be interested in developing themselves as professionals. Also, we are looking for someone who is creative and has a good sense of humor. In our opinion, these traits of character supplement hard skills that our potential candidates should possess.
How do you evaluate how long a project will take and how much it will cost?
We use the PCM model (Product, Customer, Market) to analyze what should be implemented within a project and then break into sprints and stages.
What factors determine the success of the project beyond technical skills?
What matters the most when it comes to the project’s success is the vision and motivation of the Product Owner.
Why do you think clients should make it in Ukraine?
Ukraine is a great place to launch new products. I think something that makes us unique is how we adapt to the new circumstances, how creative we are in solving challenges. Our country is still not so well-known to the rest of the world, but word is getting out that it has so much to offer. We knew we’d be able to surprise the world one day.
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