Layout – What WebDev Projects Really Look Like, Part 3

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 12/17/2020 - 11:13
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What Web Dev Really Looks Like

Once the planning phase of the project is completed, you move to the first creative production work.

Visual & Structural Layout
The best way to start this phase is to ask a number of questions about the salient points of the site's graphic/visual appearance, and its structural requirements.

  • Is the UI visually attractive? Get inspired with the resources at Mockplus
  • Might some users be visually challenged? (This includes colorblindness, partial impairment due to eye injury or macular degeneration, etc.) How can we use visual cues to help people find their way through the site? 
  • How can we make sure nothing important is buried or ambiguous?
  • Does the layout have a consistent appearance?
  • Is the physical location of a visual cue consistent?

You will undoubtedly come up with questions of your own, especially if you tend to work in very specialized fields. But these questions again give you a place to start. The process will continue in our next post. 
 

Quoting & Planning – What WebDev Projects Really Look Like, Part 2

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 12/10/2020 - 15:08
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Quote and Planning

Quoting & Planning – What WebDev Projects Really Look Like, Part 2
After you've gotten through the Discovery process to find out what your objectives should really be for a webdev project, next steps include:

Quote Submission

  • Your "quote" should actually be more of an estimate. We're all familiar with the concept of "scope creep" and—as with any act of creation—it rarely ends up being exactly what we anticipate. Allow yourself flexibility to compensate for this next point:
  • Allocate enough time and money for concepting and ideating about UX and testing, and reworking things according to what you find out during testing.
  • With any quote, you are setting client expectations. Write it with the thought in mind that you will need to stick to whatever promises you express or imply, so leave room to over-deliver.
  • Check out Muffin Group's great web design suggestions and quotation templates to figure out the best way to price your services.

Planning

  • If you're going to put the project in front of end users and act on feedback (and hopefully you are), you need to plan for the time and money to do this. All sustainable webdev projects are iterative.

This takes us up to the start of creative production work, which we'll cover in our next post.

Ready To Start – What WebDev Projects Really Look Like, Part 1

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 12/03/2020 - 15:03
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Ready to Start Webdv

A Place to Start

There are any number of ways to start a web development project, but all contain the following basic functions. They tend to occur in pretty much the same order, though there can be some back-and-forth between stages during the development process.

In this and the next few posts, we'll offer our suggestions on how to break down the process into something relatively replicable. This makes it so much easier to plan and cost each webdev project.

Discovery This is where you gather the requirements of your project.

  • What, exactly, are you trying to build?
  • What do you want it to do?
  • How does it fit into your business?
  • Know thine client: If their content creators and editors are not tech-oriented, you need to know that from the beginning. It's hard to bolt on helpful functionality at project's end.

If you're comfortable with the concept of mind-mapping a challenge, there are some excellent examples at Mindmeister.com. Even if you've never done a mind map before, this site is like a large handholding exercise in the process.

Mindmeister will walk you, step by step, through the creation of your own mind map for each potential webdev project. It will take you from beginning to end of the discovery process, right up to the point when you're ready to pitch the project with a cost estimate.

Defining the Internal User/Content Editor With A Persona Story

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 11/26/2020 - 15:55
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User Persona

In our last post, we discussed the need for our marketing departments to create Persona Stories to build the representative fictitious Internal User/Content Editor(s) for which we will be designing the UX of any new website project. Here, we’ll outline the questions through which to build such a Persona Story. 

It’s important to remember that, especially in enterprise-level organizations, there may be more than one and even several Internal Users/Content Editors. There must be Persona Stories for each of them, if we’re to create an effective UX. To develop these pseudo-personality profiles/needs assessments, we need to ask a set of questions that will determine our direction.  

These include:  

  • Who are the users? – There might be more than one set. For example, in a healthcare setting, they might be:
    • patients and family members (End Users/Customers)
    • referring doctors (Internal Users, possible Content Editors)
    • nurses/clericals (Internal Users, Content Editors)
    • potential residents and fellows (External Users)

       

  • What are each of their needs, and levels of sophistication?

     

  • What are their skill sets regarding the Web or CMS?

     

  • What’s their frustration level with current Web tools?

     

  • What kind of time do they have available for content editing?

     

  • How will they need to interact? How can that interaction be scheduled or otherwise made consistent, able to be anticipated and fit in a workflow that’s as least disruptive for all parties as possible?

     

  • Do they have digital assets, or will those have to come from some other source
    • Copy
    • Will they be writing their own text, or will someone be doing that for them?
    • Will they be responsible for editing and proofing, or will someone else do that?
    • Will they be writing in a word processor and just providing files?
    • If they will be writing directly into the user interface of the CMS, they will need to focus on writing and ignore the tool.
    • Photos, Illustrations and Video Media
    • How many will be needed?
    • Do they need scale and crop tools internally, or do they have a graphics department to use?
    • If they use stock services, which ones?
    • Who will manage those accounts for access and payment?
    • Who will actually search for, find and download those images?
    • Audio Clips
    • What will audio be used for?
    • Who will provide it?
    • It will need to be edited and ready for uploading to the site. Who will make that happen?
    • Asset Management
    • What tool(s) will be used to place, store and archive digital assets?
    • In what location will the files be stored?
    • How will they be backed up?

This is really just a starting place. Every webdev project will have its own needs, and every developer will have their own process. But these are some basic points from which to launch your own.  

Defining Users for Good UX Design Requires Good Research

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 11/19/2020 - 15:48
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Define Users

In our last post, we discussed the need to recognize that there are two real users we’re designing for in a webdev project: Internal Content Editors and External End Users. 

Web developers must serve each of these user sets, so the users must be defined in as much detail as possible, to set up the needs and expectations of each, which we will use as our design requirements. We call this the Discovery process. 

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

In reality, the Internal User is the first one to consider, because the content editor will be the first one to use the site before actual customers do. They will be inputting and updating text, images and media before the customer ever sees it, so they are key to the success of the site.

  • Because there can be several levels of internal users, each should be represented by a Persona Story, also created by your Marketing department.
  • A Persona Story is a pseudo-personality profile and needs assessment that will help determine the features and functionalities needed on the site.  

We’ll cover the questions used to build the Persona Story in our next post.

Good UX Design Starts With Defining Users

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 11/11/2020 - 22:09
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define for users

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:

  1. External (Customers/End users)

  2. Internal (Content Editors)

Every web designer knows of and thinks about the first category, the end user. But if we’re going to be designing for successful, long-life websites, we need to consider the fact that all such sites will be continually updated at least with content, if not functionality. That means someone inside the client’s organization, or at least someone contracted by them, will also be using the site from the back end.

Web developers need to build interfaces to function well, for visual attractiveness, and clean coding. They must serve each of these user sets, so the users must be defined in as much detail as possible, to set up expectations. We’ll discuss specifics in our next post.

WebDev 101 – Human-Centered Design, Part 2

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 11/04/2020 - 15:54
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WebDev 101 – Human-Centered Design, Part 2

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.

 

WebDev 101 – Human-Centered Design, Part 1

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 10/28/2020 - 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, 10/21/2020 - 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.