Creative Agencies

Testing & Going Live – What WebDev Projects Really Look Like, Part 7

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 01/14/2021 - 13:48
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WebDev testing and going live

Having moved through the initial creative and production processes, now’s the time to test your work in the real world.

Testing – Round 1

  • Often, testing is only done by site owners, but end users should be put in front of the site, too, before it’s considered launch-ready.
  • Behavioral testing is a huge part of this practice: “If I click this, that should happen.”
  • Behavior-driven Web development is becoming the norm, through practices such as BEHAT. This is an open source Behavior-Driven Development framework for PHP. It’s a tool to support you in delivering software that matters, through continuous communication, deliberate discovery and test-automation. It’s essentially a series of “if-then” scenarios.

Review and Going Live

  • Only after your draft site is put through its paces against these tests should you allow the client to review it.
  • Either make requested revisions or explain to the client why the site should remain as is, then take the site live.

Coding & Marketing – What WebDev Projects Really Look Like, Part 6

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 01/07/2021 - 13:46
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coding and marketing

Now you’re ready to tackle the backend coding that brings creative concepts to life. Coders must be mindful of the ways our work can help or hinder our marketing team members’ efforts. Always, this must be driven by the foundation of empathy for the user.

Tech and Usability Design & Coding
We need to make sure we can afford users the pathways they need. We must allow for anything they may need to revise: Typos, number of units ordered, etc. on eCommerce sites; save your work and start over, etc. on other types of interfaces.

Functionality Coding
Sometimes functionality drives the interface, but to the extent that we have control over how things work, we need to make sure that if users press the wrong button, they get feedback. Concise but gentle and understandable guidance is key to a successful user experience.

Marketing & SEO

  • How much do content editors need to know about keywords and the organization's search strategy?
  • Do they need to learn to create content that's in line with the marketing department's priorities?
  • If so, who will provide that guidance: a brand strategist, a guidebook?
  • Will there be a content approval process? Who will be responsible for that?

Graphic & UX Design – What WebDev Projects Really Look Like, Part 5

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 12/31/2020 - 13:41
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WebDev Projects

The tenets of good user design fill at least a dozen books, and there will be more. This discipline grows in importance as retail moves more and more online. The learning curve was already picking up speed, but since the rise of the coronavirus and COVID-19, that speed has grown exponentially. We must grow with it, if we are to keep ahead of the very real needs of site users.

  • Graphic design is critical to every item seen by the site visitor, from the overall page template, fonts and color scheme to the look of buttons and other repeating elements. The person responsible for this should have a good balance of experience and knowledge in both 2D design and how that applies to an interactive, virtual experience.
  • User Experience (UX) design applies to everything from micro-interactions to the whole customer success journey. You test it by walking through the actual process a site visitor must go through. Then ask yourself: How hard was it to do what the fictional user wanted to do? How many hoops do you have to jump through? Could any of them be eliminated or made simpler? Do systems collaborate with each other smoothly?

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 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.

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.  

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.