External Users – End Users/Customers
The site's external end users may belong to a monolithic group, but more likely, they will belong to several subsets, differentiated in terms relevant to the client/site owner’s business or purpose. Your marketing department should research and create a Customer Profile for each subset of typical customers.
- These profiles should be generated using known demographic information as much as possible. Relevant demographics will change according to client needs.
- Other salient points about them will have to remain conjecture, until use of the new site reveals observable data about external users.
- When building the project timeline, the webdev project manager should be tapped to follow up on this information, which should help determine anticipated needs and desires for the website's ongoing features and functionality. This way, all future updates are based on actual feedback.
Internal Users – Content Editors
We’ll cover the questions used to build the Persona Story in our next post.
When we start a webdev project, good UX design must be foremost in our minds from the beginning. And good UX design begins with empathy: We must design the entire user experience to fit the type of person who will be using it most. This determines who we’re really working for. The client may be paying for your time and expertise, but the real “boss” — the one driving our decisions and choice s— is the user. So it’s necessary to define our actual user base.
For any website, there are actually two main types of users:
- External (Customers/End users)
- Internal (Content Editors)
Previously, we discussed the importance of Human-Centered Design in website development. This week, we’ll look at the three basic phases of Human-Centered Design.
INSPIRATION – This first phase of intense creativity, grounded in research. It’s a process of learning about the needs and desires of all users of the site, from internal content editors to end users. It’s when you imagine how you might approach the project, based on what you learn.
IDEATION – This is the brainstorming and iteration phase, during which you begin putting into form the ideas you came up with in the previous phase. Ideally, you bring in people like those who will actually use the site to test your ideas and give you feedback.
IMPLEMENTATION – This is where you bring the site design into its final iteration, do the launch, and promote its use.
It takes some practice to get used to using this process, but there is help available. You can download a free PDF copy of The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design that will get you solving problems like a designer. BONUS: This guide helps you apply Human-Centered Design principles to all types of challenges, not just webdev.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.