WebDev 101 – Human-Centered Design, Part 1

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 10/14/2020 - 15:51
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WebDev 101 – Human-Centered Design, Part 1

At the heart of effective User Experience (UX) Design, which is critical to the creation of successful websites, is Human-Centered Design. This is the term for the expression of the oldest and most central design rule in website development: Form must follow function (FFF).

 

In other words, you start with the purpose of the thing you’re designing — What is it supposed to do, why, and who’s going to be using it? — and make sure that every decision you make during its design is based on the answers to those questions. The form of what you're creating must follow the function it is supposed to serve.

 

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Actually, not so much. Many folks approach a design project with preconceived notions or they see it as an opportunity to try some new technique or methodology they’ve heard about, whether or not it serves the purpose of the project.

 

That’s why the FFF rule is so critical: It serves as a strong guiding influence on decision-making the whole way through the webdev project. Some will see this as a constraint to their creativity, but in reality, it’s a way to save all involved from going down innumerable rabbit holes that won't ultimately pay off.

In our next post, we'll look at the 3 basics of Human-Centered Design.

 

WebDev 101 – Technology and Corporate Culture

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 10/14/2020 - 15:48
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Web dev tech and corporate culture

All the best editing and technology design in the world cannot overcome a bad attitude, and that's true from organization management to the content editor/manager.

We may all indulge in a joke now and then about how fast the world is moving, but the reality is that technology acceptance is no longer solely the realm of the resident geeks and nerds. It’s imperative that everyone involved in dissemination of marketing content get on board and, if not actually embrace the new way of doing things, then at least accept and not resist it.

This is a real challenge in some organizations and companies, and it's never more obvious than when dealing with how to get messaging out of the heads of those responsible for generating it and onto the website or other marketing vehicles.

Resonetrics can help your organization (or your client's) create an atmosphere of not just acceptance, but embrace of technology in helping move your marketing forward. If management is on board, it can be a fairly brief process that sticks, positioning the organization to leap ahead in its market visibility and penetration.

 

This process may consist of analyzing the marketing team's technological strengths and weaknesses, providing tech introductions and training where needed, and helping develop an internal marketing workflow that optimizes strengths and minimizes weaknesses. It may also include arranging external assistance where needed.

 

WebDev 101 - User interface design

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 10/14/2020 - 15:43
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Web development user interface design

Regardless which content management system (CMS) people use, unless they are dedicated content managers, they are usually administrative professionals primarily responsible for other activities more traditional to their jobs. This makes web content updates just another burdensome task.

If the CMS they’re required to use is difficult, stressful and unrewarding, they will avoid doing it. If you notice a strong resistance to this task in your organization, we’re probably talking about you. At Resonetrics, we can prescribe strategies to successfully deal with your particular situation.

Generally, we start with an introductory interview to learn your specific needs and situation. Then we talk with your designated content editor, to objectively determine whether that person really has the skill set (or the willingness and potential to develop it) and bandwidth to take on the task consistently, as part of their position.

 

If so, we may offer to help onboard that person to a professional standard, using task modeling and checklists to help establish a repeatable routine that produces the results you seek. We will also help your designee navigate your organization's particular culture to make sure they get what they need for each website update.

If your designee does not appear to be a good candidate for the content editing role, we will help you find someone among your team members who is, or recommend external sources to locate a better fit.

 

WebDev 101 - Content organization & preparation

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 10/07/2020 - 19:41
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Web development

If it’s being done right, every organization’s website content consists of material provided from across the breadth and length of their expertise and knowledge. This means a variety of voices, language usage, tonal approaches, visual design and image types are being submitted by various contributors in all departments and sectors of the organization.

In an enterprise-level organization with many departments and subdivisions, it’s even more critical that this disparate content is well-edited and organized, to shape it into a coherent, single voice for the client.

This is a skill set unto itself. Not everyone has it, but everyone can learn enough to ultimately execute at a higher level. And for consistently top-tier content, you may find yourself retaining outside help.

For visuals, you can retain a virtual assistant (VA) with some training or background in photography or illustration to help you source, identify and edit images you'll need. For text, you might want to hire a commercial copywriter. It's important to hire the right one, and fortunately it's not difficult to find an experienced copywriter who has some background in your client's particular industry.

If the thought of having to locate, interview and secure the services of this outside talent sends you running for the hills because it's just way more time and effort than you have to spare, it might be time to hire an all-around digital marketing partner to do all that for you.

Moving Toward the Future, Part 6: How Traditional Small Creative Agencies Can Re-tool for the Digital Era – Realign Pricing for Digital Expectations

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:26

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Digital marketing

Traditionally, agency pricing was based on the perception of vague intrinsic value of “creativity.” Granted, this concept is difficult to assign concrete value to, but proving worth at billing time can get very uncomfortable, especially if your main determiner of pricing for the campaign was your client’s budget.

People who came up through the IT end of things know how to create relevant pricing structures, since they're used to working in more complex arrangements, with multiple teams, contract clauses regarding intellectual property and data security, and other issues traditional agencies may never even think of.

Happily, there are plenty of guidelines out there to help you structure fees in a way that creates a more understandable and applicable process. This assures clients of a level of accountability they may previously have not experienced working with creative agencies, and allows us to charge realistic prices for our services that ensure we are adequately compensated without wondering if we should have charged more or less. It may even shorten the odious quotation process, and who wouldn’t like to see that?

Moving Toward the Future, Part 5: How Traditional Small Creative Agencies Can Re-tool for the Digital Era – Get Comfortable With Split Testing

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 09/16/2020 - 20:53

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digital marketing

In traditional print-first marketing, A/B or Split Testing was rarely done by any but the largest clients with deep pockets and lots of time. The process was either too cumbersome, too expensive, or just plain not possible. This resulted in campaign approaches often being chosen on a very subjective basis. But in a digital-first marketplace, A/B Testing is not only possible, but so accessible as to be considered nearly imperative.

 

Digital marketing tools such as eNewsletter platforms and banner advertising have built-in Split Testing features. Large mail lists make it possible to perform test campaigns to small sample audiences, sometimes allowing controls for certain characteristics, depending on the richness of data collected from recipients. Tracking and reporting features, also standard, can provide hard data that makes decisions about creative approach much more objective and fact-based.

Of everything digital brings to the table for marketing agencies, this ability to measure, analyze and report makes it so much easier to justify budget spends, high quality creative, and to prove value for your clients. It also holds us more accountable for our decisions, but on a level playing field, that ultimately only makes us better at what we do. In that scenario, everybody wins.

Moving Toward the Future, Part 4: How Traditional Small Creative Agencies Can Re-tool for the Digital Era – Adhering to Digital-First Tenets

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 09/11/2020 - 09:19

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digital era

The first tenet of digital-first marketing is in its name: Every campaign concept begins with the idea that digital will be the primary and most important outreach channel. This can be difficult for those whose career path began in the print era, many of whom believe that print assets can simply be converted to digital ones. Anyone who has tried to make that happen can tell you otherwise. There must be an intentional mind-shift in which print takes a subordinate position to digital.

 

Along with that comes getting used to the much faster development and deployment pace required by digital-first efforts. Channels and platforms evolve on a nearly daily basis, and the rules that govern them do, as well. Tech-first professionals such as coders and software engineers are used to thinking this way, while traditional creatives may feel the rug has been pulled out from under them at first.

 

This shift also entails leaving behind the perfectionism of traditional print production, once required because huge, expensive print runs had a significant shelf life in which errors were anathema. Now, creatives must become comfortable with the digital-born “iterate and optimize” mindset, in which something close to a “minimum viable product” gets shipped (or launched) to kick off a campaign, then the messaging and graphics are tweaked for effectiveness based on real-world testing, which is the subject of next week’s post.

Moving Toward the Future, Part 3: How Traditional Small Creative Agencies Can Re-tool for the Digital Era – New Appreciation for IT Staff

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 09/02/2020 - 12:29

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IT Staff

In traditional creative agencies, IT staff have almost been a second thought. Programmers, coders and similar employees were viewed mostly as a pair of hands to execute on the agency’s main value proposition: creative ideas. But in a digital-first world in which a constantly growing mound of content is king, it has become at least as important to make sure experienced, knowledgeable IT pros are present when the paper is blank, at the beginning of any campaign.

These people must be present not only to advise accurately on which concepts can most easily and inexpensively be implemented digitally, but also to vet creative assets such as websites and apps for all-important characteristics such as SEO ranking, cleanness of code and loading times.

Another critical task such IT personnel will fulfill is testing deliverables. Testing everything from links and pop-overs to mobile responsiveness must be built into new digital-first processes by people who understand the nuances of the work, and when such testing is most effective. Ensuring that these folks are integral members of the team will keep you competitive and give your projects the best chance for success of your campaigns…and your business.

Moving Toward the Future, Part 2: How Traditional Small Creative Agencies Can Re-tool for the Digital Era – Overcoming Tech Differences

Submitted by Sam Moore on Sun, 08/30/2020 - 10:22

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Online meeting on laptop

At least up until the arrival of COVID-19, few small creative agencies typically worked remotely. They generally built their processes and workflows around in-person meetings with clients, staff and vendors, with a possible phone call or rare online meeting thrown in when deadlines came down to the wire.

Not only did this tend to make the work process more cumbersome and expensive, it also slowed it down. Because digital-first agencies tend to be built by highly tech-savvy principals (if not downright tech nerds), their foundations include the use of communication, project management, and brainstorming software such as Basecamp, Slack and MindMeister to allow most—if not all—of these processes to happen virtually.

Though it may remove some of the more personable aspects of business, these types of software packages can help today’s traditional agencies retrofit their processes to be able to compete with their digital-first peers.

Moving Toward the Future, Part 1: How Traditional Small Creative Agencies Can Re-tool for the Digital Era – Volume and Velocity

Submitted by Sam Moore on Tue, 08/18/2020 - 18:07

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Digital marketing laptop

Small creative agencies tend to have small client rosters, having chosen to remain small so they can stay in the creative end of what they love to do, rather than become managers. This translates to not being able to service the work volume and production velocity of larger agencies.

Digital-first agencies are built on a high-volume, constant-output type of project. The many different channels of digital marketing require the production of large numbers and many sizes of banner ads, social media and blog posts. Consequently, these agencies tend to have grown up at a pace far more intense than traditional agencies have experienced.

Happily, this can be remedied by supplementing salaried staff with freelance talent from a newly robust pool of freelancers, thanks to COVID-19. As a bonus, they can be chosen for narrow specialization in any needed discipline, providing previously hard-to-find expertise for any size agency or client.