When you’ve decided to transform your website redesign, and by extension your organization, selecting and setting up the appropriate support system is critical. Because a data-driven methodology and approach is most likely to result in the success of your website goals, such is the methodology and approach you’ll want your system to support. From that foundation, you can build a solid support structure using three elements, or pillars, to comprise your redesign team: Accessible Constituent Representation, Web Project Team, and Vendors. Each is crucial to the support of your project.
Constituents are critical to the success of data-driven website planning. Not only are your constituents full of expectations, but they drive your organization’s purpose, value, and growth. Their expectations impact what you do and how you do it, specifically when it comes to your web presence in not only functionality, but also visual presentation. Your constituents will be your most honest and at times unforgiving pillar, ensuring that you’re left with clear data to support unwavering directives to move the website project forward. You can’t argue with the voice of your constituents – they are integral to the function and continued success of your organization. It is important to engage them early in the process, because they comprise the strongest and most determinant pillar of support for your website.
Web Project Team
A successful project team fills five categories, which together, comprise the web project team pillar that is crucial to the ongoing support of your project.
- The first is Project Management. This category includes a Project Manager who contributes effective and efficient communication for keeping the project on track, on budget, and always moving forward.
- Next is Analysis and Technical Aptitude: This category includes members who contribute an in-depth awareness and knowledge of the technical landscape, which encompasses systems to be integrated to the website and the organizational operations and internal processes that drive the management and population of those systems.
- The Content Management and Strategy members are also crucial to the team. These are individuals or teams who are intimately familiar with your organization’s current web content and can drive a content audit and execute against an on-going content strategy. Think of your website as a living, breathing part of your organization. Each piece of content on your website must support two key things:
- A key business objective
- A user need (Content Strategy for the Web, 2012).
- You also require Communications and Marketing These are professionals who can align the website with the organizational and strategic goals for marketing, constituent engagement, and communications. To do so successfully, however, they must equally consider and effectively address the needs, expectations, and goals of the organization’s end-users.
- And finally, your team must include Executive Leadership. This provides high-level support within the organization to project success and satisfaction.
Members of the web project team must immediately establish goals, for each category and for the project as a whole. Work with the project team to establish as well achievable short term goals and another set of visionary long term goals. Center these goals around your organization’s strategic initiatives and overall vision. Take benchmarks: Ensure you’ve got snapshots at various intervals — especially before and after the website redesign — to track progress for your website goals though a benchmarking tool like a constituent survey, customer experience campaign, or heuristic review.
Depending on the size of your organization and your website redesign project, the number of vendors you need may vary, but their qualifications must not. Vendors mark the third pillar; they should integrate seamlessly into your processes, support weak points in your organization’s structure, and be an extension of your project team. Insist upon the following:
- Obvious knowledge of and respect for data-driven decision making.
- Ensure that vendors enable you to regularly evaluate and respond to analytics on your website. Analytics are your main lens into on-going user behavior, website traffic, and content success; they tell you what’s happening (that is, trends, patterns, and so on). For data driven decision-making, you must establish with your vendors, a process for evaluating and reporting on your website analytics in a way that answers the “what” question and allows your organization to evaluate the “why” question, thus making decisions about website change (A List Apart – Lou Rosenfeld, 2009).
- Emphasis on user-centric, user experience (UX), and constituent engagement methodologies.
- Ensure that your vendors proceed with a mantra of “test and iterate.” Insist that they implement a cycle of user testing and evaluation based on the data you’re gathering from your web analytics. When you see a potential area for improvement, include your vendors in a plan to update, test, and evaluate. If the outcome isn’t the one desired, continue to iterate.
- Proven, tangible examples of website work that demonstrates successful user engagement and content strategy.
- Emphasis on partnership and leadership through the process.
With input from constituents, a complete project team, and qualified vendors in place, you’re set up for success. As your project gets started, things will fall into place, conversations will flow, and data will stream from your constituents, transforming how your organization leverages the website, writes and delivers content, and executes digital strategy in the future. You can depend on the three pillars, constituents, project team, and vendors, to uphold and strongly support a great redesign process and outcome.