Launched in 2016, a small team of design experts fueled Flolab’s design engine, driven by motivation and passion for the UX industry. At the time, the appreciative spotlight for this field was pretty rare due to companies and/or brands' unfamiliarity and perhaps, scepticism towards the need for UX Design services. Back when good design was primarily defined by high quality visual deliverables, it was quite a challenge for us to introduce the distinctive importance of Product and UX Design, let alone the necessity of Design Thinking and Design Research.
Nonetheless, we believe that growth only happens from due diligence and determination. Over the span of 6 years, we’ve gone through a little shift in our goal as a company, starting from the list of our clientele to the size of our team. And today, to commemorate our 6th birthday and celebrate our past achievements, we want to take some time to walk you down Flolab’s memory lane with us.
Our initial decision to be niche happened during the rise of tech startups in Indonesia. For the first few years, our pool of clients consisted mainly of small startups that were in need of innovative UX Design to help them stand out from their competitors. During that time, our clients were less aware of the end-to-end design thinking process. But, as UX designers, we are firm believers that a simple and functional interface is the result of the process that designers go through to listen to the needs of real users. Thus, oftentimes, we needed to educate our clients about the importance of UX Research, not only to create designs that please the eye, but also solve real user problems.
Fast forward to today, following the rise of the UI/UX industry, we realised the need to revamp our brand name, service offerings as well as the clientele we cater to. Graduating from our older vision where we only aimed to innovate for startups, we decided to provide accessible design for all. This decision was further supported when more and more traditional companies began to embrace and accept digital transformation, allowing us to expand our reach to larger, more established corporations in need of UX assistance.
More than our clientele, we also made the decision to rebrand ourselves from the gradient-toned aesthetic to something bolder, solid, and sustainable.
In an article titled Hitting Refresh on the Flolab Brand Identity, we proudly documented our rebranding process from beginning to end. In it, we dissected the process into different phases, starting from the renewal of our perspectives up to visualising the new logo and colour palette. The revamp also gave us the chance to sit and have countless discussions with our team members, collecting insights on their perspectives about the company’s purpose, impression, personality and many more. Ultimately, we were able to merge our thoughts and opinions together for a better Flolab. The rebranding journey was part of our growth since it allowed us to evaluate how we seek growth for our team.
With the new company vision in place, we believed that it was also time for us to gradually expand our team size. Instead of limiting ourselves to hiring designers only within Jakarta, we opened our door of opportunities to designers from various backgrounds located in different cities. Whether it’s writing, content creation, animation and/or illustration, our team aims to offer a diverse set of expertise from our members to our clients. And today, we are pushing forward together as a team of 18 members – a significant increase in number from when we first started.
When the company was in its infant stage, many of our then-clients questioned why the UX process takes a long time to complete. In order to meet tight deadlines from clients, we had to shorten the time it takes to empathize with users while conducting in-depth design research. In reality, however, design is a constantly iterative process, with no finish line.
Even so, we continued to deliver our end-to-end results based on the UX research we ran behind the scenes. Coincidentally, as the progression of the UX industry became more evident, there was a rise in demand for UX research. From evaluating the design using simple methods like competitive study or design audits to proposing new ideas based on user interviews, usability testing, and A/B testing; we soon encountered more clients in need of design research-related services to evaluate their product’s features.
Simultaneously, as the influx of research projects became higher, we struggled to land on a standardised flow for our research process. We had to pull multiple trials and errors while completing research demands from our clients, exploring different approaches and methodologies for each project. Of course, there were some hits and misses along the way, but ultimately, we were able to outgrow our past mistakes to build a proper research guideline. This guideline is now utilised by our new members to lead them in their projects today.
Over the course of 6 years, we’ve successfully collaborated with more than 40 companies from varying backgrounds. To highlight, in 2020 we held our first offline UX workshop with KPK – a project where we trained participants in the application of design thinking methodologies to solve user’s problems. This event marked Flolab’s first ever UX research-centric collaboration with external parties.
Fast forward to today, we collaborated with Indigo for four months, a startup incubation program from Telkom, to conduct a thorough UX research. It was a remarkable opportunity for us because we managed to conduct the research with the largest number of participants from various backgrounds at the same time. As a result, this rewarding partnership allowed us to reframe and curate a standardised system for Flolab’s research projects. Additionally, we soon landed a six-month engagement project to work with GreatNusa from Binus, allowing us to learn and build a learning platform using a tool called Moodle.
Coincidentally, these projects arrived at the perfect time when we hired a new batch of designers in our team. All the collective lessons, insights, and documentation compiled from both GreatNusa and Indigo projects assisted them in understanding the overall workflow of UX research – starting from planning interview questions, adapting to the art of affinity mapping, up to the handover process for developers.
Of course, we can’t reminisce about past projects without mentioning our ongoing and future milestones.
When it comes to clients, we are currently engaged with 8 companies with products ranging from a variety of industries. One of them is Segari, an e-grocery startup. Through them, we get a taste of what it’s like to commit to an end-to-end research in a fast-paced environment keen on business growth and innovation. We’re also working with Radiant1, where we get to touch upon and innovate for the hotel industry. Additionally, we’ve also been engaged with UBS Gold, Indonesia's trusted gold jewelry manufacturer, to be involved in their efforts towards the company’s digital transformation; and Sonar, a media intelligence analytics platform. Besides these, there are of course the long-term collaborations with Pegadaian, Brick, Dropezy, Ayoconnect, and Indivara
Currently, we are not only working with other companies to help them with their products but also brewing something new from our lab. Having the chance to work with a myriad of clients from various products and fields allows us to cultivate the knowledge, wisdom, or even practical skills applied to our past and ongoing projects. Through our experiences, we manage to curate our know-hows with hopes to pay it forward for everyone inside and outside of Flolab. With that in mind, we decided to create a rather personal project in order to give back to the community equally inspired by the collective experiences we have had from KPK workshop, Indigo, and GreatNusa to name a few.
The willingness to educate everyone (designers and non-designers alike) birthed the concept of Flolab Academy – an extended family meant to guide, lead and educate anyone who strives to understand the UX Design industry further.
Following the launch of Flolab Academy in 2022, we are committed to building a reliable, educative bootcamp for the community and anyone who is interested in diving deeper into this industry.
Like most companies in the face of the pandemic, we had to clear our onsite office tables to adopt a remote working environment. What started as a minor struggle caused by this transitional period – such as missing the casual dynamic usually shared between employees through face-to-face meetups – was soon replaced by our mutual agreement that, by implementing a fully remote policy, we are able to achieve more results and stay more productive. This flexibility not only saves the time taken to deal with stressful daily occurrences (such as Jakarta’s intense traffic and rush hour) but also allows us to position ourselces as a WFH-friendly company, which has become a popular trend and an important job-perk during the pandemic.
Thanks to the flexibility offered by the remote work culture, we added five new members to join our team from different corners of the country, with the farthest one from Makassar. This is a pretty prominent milestone for us as we are break away from the geographical limitations of hiring, thereby enriching the diversity in our team.
Besides the hiring perspective, we also feel the benefit of remote work affecting our team’s productivity levels. Contrary to what most people think, remote work allows us more flexibility in terms of scheduling. Sure, office hours still begin at 9 in the morning, but there is definitely more room for us to not only complete our tasks of the day but maybe run a few important errands flexibly as well. Undoubtedly, there is a lesson of independence behind this new culture as members are expected to communicate transparently through multiple mediums like WhatsApp groups, and Google Calendar blocking. We firmly believe that when it comes to a remote working environment, it’s not a matter of questioning if on-site employees produce better and faster results, but rather how the employees are able to manage their time during office hours.
Arguably, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there may be questions as to how we at Flolab continue to work together as a solid team if we don’t seemingly meet each other physically. In some cases, it’s also easier for individuals to feel lonely and isolated, particularly for newcomers who have never experienced what it’s like to work with old members in real-time.
To make sure that we don’t lose the empathy and human connection for our team members, we set up a small weekly “timeout” sharing session where we get to temporarily step away from the stressful piles of projects (which we’ll get back to, of course) for a casual team chat, play virtual games together, or perhaps discuss a certain topic in the hope that this inclusive recurrence will be able to bring both existing and new members closer together.
Recently though, on the occasion of Flolab’s 6-year anniversary and following the more conducive pandemic situation, we were able to hold a 1-day event for all team members bringing them together in one room. It was a refreshing experience, to say the least, and one that we hopefully can recreate every year!
When we talk about the company’s growth, most spotlights tend to base it from the company’s perspective — revenue increase, new business channels, unlocking global awards, and all other glimmering achievements. We often overlook the fact that a company’s growth also depends on the people working behind the scenes – our employees. Oftentimes, it is expected for a company to hire the best people, the best candidates, but the question sticks: what is the definition of “the best candidate?”
At Flolab, we believe in the opposite. Instead of recruiting only the perfect candidate, we are more inclined to hire ‘diamonds in the rough’, individuals who have exceptional qualities and potential but are looking to continuously polish themselves, supported in a nurturing environment. Therefore, it is our ethos as a company to listen to each individual, accommodate their needs, and guide them in the right direction. If a Flolab member expresses his or her curiosity to try something new, we do not restrict them to the same lane forever. In fact, we may even push them to experiment and not be afraid of making mistakes. It is only then, that an individual can take bold steps in the right direction.
Last but not the least, a reflection is not complete without dedicating a section to some of our oldest members. Indeed, our heart swells with pride and gratitude whenever we are reminded of the contribution they’ve given to the company. Whether it’s the exponential growth from a junior designer to a team leader, or the ability to manage day to day operations for the whole team, these individuals make up Flolab’s very own Power Rangers team:
No matter how cliche, it’s undeniably a proud moment for us to witness Flolab in its 6th year. With new obstacles we face and for every achievement we’ve unlocked, we will continue to climb up the ladder as a team, dipping our toes to take up projects from specific industries we never thought we would try. Without a doubt, our hope to give back to the community equally prevails in the form of Flolab Academy, our fingers crossed for the path we are about to subsequently conquer.
Lastly, to end this birthday post, we would like to express our profound gratitude to all members of the Flolab team and of course our gracious clients who have trusted us with their products through all these years, and to everyone out there who has supported us during our journey!
If you’re looking to build a mobile app or website, or just want to talk about design, reach out to us to have a chat.