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Human-centred design suits Annex to a T

Wendy Johnson 5 December 2019
The team at Annex

The team at Annex has a creative and supportive culture. Photos: Joanne Gittoes Photography.

Human-centred design. Annex is passionate about it because they know that great online experiences only happen through great execution.

Annex is a full-service digital agency based in the city. Although only young, the company has experienced incredible growth since swinging its doors open in January this year. And the web development team, according to managing director Leigh Gittoes, balances the best talent needed to create products for clients that break through the noise.

“What makes us different is the quality of the team and experience. Some members are highly specialised, many are backed by years of experience and others come from outside the information technology sector which rounds out our skills,” says Leigh. “We’re both thinkers and doers; conservative and unconventional; technical and creative.”

The team’s makeup enables Annex to tackle complex problems, uncover opportunities and design and engineer digital products and services that put the user at the centre. On board are researchers, interaction designers, scrum masters, Drupal, JavaScript and application developers who have a long history of delivering in the private sector and federal government.

Annex managing director Leigh Gittoes (standing) and technical practice lead Kate Hogden (sitting to right) believe that great online experiences can only happen through great execution.

“We deliberately source team members for T-shaped skills, a popular term in the agile software development world that refers to staff who have both broad knowledge and skills (the top of the T) and deep discipline or specialty knowledge,” says Leigh. “Some of our team have triple certifications, which we leverage to our client’s advantage.”

Creativity flows through Annex, in part because of its workplace culture and desire to share their craft with others in the opensource software communities.

Annex hosts and sponsors the monthly JavaScript meet up and have been major sponsors of Drupal conferences.

“Our team learns so much through these communities,” says Kate Hogden, Annex’s technical practice lead. “It enables us to stay on top of industry knowledge so our service to always is always best-practice.”

It’s important to Annex because of the size and complexity of some of their projects, including for the public sector, with some websites seeing hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of users interacting with government every day.

With every project, Annex’s starting point is understanding users: who they are, their needs and pain points.

“These mega projects are challenging but rewarding to develop. They make a direct and positive impact on the lives of Australians – it doesn’t get much better than that,” says Leigh.

Annex’s starting point is to understand website users: who they are, what problems they face and what their pain points are.

“Armed with that knowledge, we start to design and test solutions, develop prototypes and design and test again until we solve the issues and deliver what the users need,” says Leigh. “Our work spans research, innovation and design and then drills down to engineering and delivering the technical solution.”

Giving back to the industry is also ingrained in the Annex culture, and that includes supporting Code Like a Girl, a social enterprise providing girls and women with the confidence, tools, knowledge and support to enter and flourish in the world of coding.

“It’s all part of our culture and philosophy. It fits in with what we do at Annex – share and help,” Leigh says.

“It’s a really cool social enterprise and we employed the first Code Like a Girl intern in Canberra.”

Technical practice lead Kate Hogden couldn’t agree more. “We know females have got what it takes to code,” says Kate, who herself has more than 12 years’ experience in web and app development.

Annex’s growth spurt is far from over. The company is always on the lookout for talented operators who are motivated by human-centred product designs that people love.

Annex is located at Level 8, 12 Moore Street, Canberra, 02 6190 1215.


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