Web

Testing, Round 2 – What WebDev Projects Really Look Like, Part 10

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 02/04/2021 - 18:19
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Web Dev Testing Round 2

The Final Countdown
Your initial site go-live will be a “soft launch,” known only to those working on the project. First-round testing was for internal users to give the site a first run-through. But now, developers have seen the site too many times, and fresh eyes are needed. 

Unleash the Gremlins!
Second-round testing is done by those who might actually use the site “in the wild.” You want to unleash the gremlins before the general public has access. As military generals have always known: “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” People will find ways to break stuff. Let them do it before it really matters. This is the last stress test before the paying client sees it, and—more importantly—sees potential customers use it.

How To Do It
If you haven't run usability testing before, or you have but found it to be a vague process without actionable outcomes, you need a firm process in place. There are many places to find established processes, but one we recommend is Just In Mind. Just over a year ago, they published their Complete Guide to User Testing, with a dozen chapters of in-depth suggestions to address and set up all facets of usability testing. 

Training – What WebDev Projects Really Look Like, Part 8

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 01/21/2021 - 13:53
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WebDev Training

With the site now live in its first complete iteration, it’s time to provide training to whoever’s job it is to update and maintain the site.

Documentation!
When handing the site over to the client’s IT department and content creators/editors, you need to provide documentation on how to perform necessary tasks. Match your options to deliver documentation to their strengths:

  • In person
  • Written
  • Videos/Recorded webinars
  • Powerpoint with screen shots – Standalone or attached to the back end of the site itself, prompted through pop-ups or icons.

The important part is that the guidance system you design be flexible. As always, put the user first in designing this.

  • What do internal users like?
  • Get comfortable with the idea that you may need to come in to revise it later.
  • One proven method of client training is the creation of a “Mentoring Model:” Train one client staff member who is good at training to teach the rest. In the best of cases, this can leverage the positive efficiencies of “hive mind.”

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 – 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 – 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.