Wait. Why is Janice in Accounting at Our Website Design Meeting?

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  • 5/15/2018

    So, you finally want to jump in on this whole “internet” craze that’s been sweeping the nation, or your millennial hires have been passing around memes about how badly your website needs an update. 

    You’ve come to thunder::tech for a new site, but you have no idea who should be involved in the project from your organization. Luckily, we have some ideas to help your project run smoothly.

    Who to Involve

    Let’s begin with the basics. A full website design project consists of many different steps, each needing input from certain team members. These steps include discovery, developing a sitemap, producing wireframes from the sitemap, adding creative elements to the wireframe and, finally, beginning development.

    Most website projects typically have two sets of feedback groups: the core project team and secondary individuals that are only called upon at certain times. The core team usually includes the project leader, as well as a few major decision makers, and is involved in throughout the design process.

    Secondary players at an organization include sales, marketing and leadership teams among others. Although these groups may not be needed for the entire redesign process, there are certain tasks and deliverables they may be involved in. Examples of these tasks can include content development and giving feedback.

    The core project team shouldn’t be the only group involved in a web design project. Understanding that every organization is different in terms of roles and personnel, here are some common groups that should be included in a project, when they should be included and for what reason.

    Sales Team.
    The sales team is oftentimes the most beneficial but least included group when designing a website. The sales team brings two important insights to the table: knowledge of the product or service and knowledge of the end user. Both of these are very important in organizing and constructing a website’s sitemap and wireframe, as well as developing relevant and beneficial content to feature on pages. The sales team should be involved during the discovery phase of the project.

    Support Team.
    Another team with an unexpected role in a web design project is the support team. Much like the sales team, the support team communicates with end users on a daily basis. They are also in the unique position of knowing the problems an end user is experiencing. Asking the support team to provide common complaints, issues and pain points will allow the new website to be tailored toward solving these issues. The sales team should also be involved during the discovery phase of the project.

    Not all organizations have in-house designers, but those that do should include them in a web design process (and not just because it’s in their name!). Designers can help to make sure creative designs follow established brand guidelines and standards. They can also collaborate with thunder::tech’s design department to develop a great-looking website. Designers should be involved in the creative phase of the design process.

    What do the HR and legal teams have to do with a website design? Well, I’m glad you asked. Many projects have been delayed or derailed when a legal issue arises during final approval or beta testing. Do we have approval to use certain logos? Are we using correct language in our content? Do we have to include disclaimers, sources or other pieces of acknowledgement? These all need to be answered before we can officially launch a website. The HR/Legal teams should be involved in the final wireframe and creative approval.

    Ah, leadership. The ultimate “we have to run this past…” group. Many projects can’t be completed until the leadership team gives it the green light. Hopefully, leadership will either be involved in the design process, have time to attend important milestone meetings or trust the core group enough to not be needed. We all know this isn’t always an option, so when should you include leadership? The ideal answer is whenever you can. The better answer is whenever they are needed.

    Every organization is different, and the amount of sway the leadership team has can vary. If the CEO’s “suggestion” is more of a demand, they should be heavily involved early in the process. It is much easier to change direction or make adjustments in the early stages of a project than the later ones.

    End Users.
    The biggest, most important and most often forgotten about group that should be included in a web design project is the end users. Ideally, any new website should be designed with the goals of the end user in mind. Oftentimes, the goals of the user and the goals of the organization are similar, but taking into consideration the wants and needs of the end user is essential in delivering the best website possible.

    When should we include users and how? Check out our handy guide to user research to learn all you need to know about getting information from your end users, but, in a nutshell…we should always include users in the design project. From discovery to post-launch testing and analysis, user research can drastically improve the experience your end users have on your site.

    Interested in learning even more about user research at thunder::tech? Listen to the podcast or watch our Good Morning Marketers video on the subject.


    OK. So, you’ve seen the different players that need to be involved to make a website design process run like a well-oiled machine. But what’s in it for you? Sure, making your agency’s life a little easier should be a reward in itself, but there are other tangible benefits to getting everyone involved.

    You’re serving your entire organization.
    We know this isn’t high school (unless, of course, you’re a high school looking for a new site) and, hopefully, you’re not leaving anyone out on purpose, but this does happen more often than you’d think. By factoring in all the pieces of your organization that should have a voice but often don’t, you increase the likelihood everyone will be satisfied by the final website we deliver.

    You’re increasing efficiency.
    Having the right people in the room at the right time increases efficiency and cuts down a lot on the back-and-forth regarding feedback and deliverable updates. If we hear all the necessary voices at one time, we can take the feedback into consideration and update deliverables at once rather than waiting until all of the individuals or departments that you need to “run it past” get back to you.

    We always get feedback like, “XYZ team just took a look at the design, and we’re missing this thing. Can we add it in there now?” Not only could this impact the overall design, it will push our delivery date back because we may now have to reconfigure other sections of the site. You might not be able to see it from a client perspective, but the entire site is intertwined. Even a small change can and will affect the rest of the site. Even a slight delay in feedback or missed calendar date can push a project back, but if everyone is involved from the start, this is less likely to happen.

    You’re improving the accuracy of the deliverable.
    This goes hand-in-hand with increasing efficiency. If we can be more accurate on our deliverables, we will not have to go through as many iterations of a design and can move on to the next step of the design process sooner. Meetings will fly by when our presentations incorporate all of the necessary feedback. Also, from a design perspective, it is much easier to put together a great site when we have all of the pieces available to us. A lot goes on behind the scenes, and knowing what to expect helps us plan for all sorts of curveballs that might get thrown at us.

    You’re helping to establish trust and goodwill.
    Much like accuracy, trusting that the information we are given is not only right but also approved and set to go will ease the overall design process. It helps us sleep at night when we know we’re not going to come into the office the next day with 20 “minor tweaks” based on additional feedback. (Minor tweaks are never as minor as they seem.) Being confident a design we’ve worked hard on won’t be sliced and diced when fresh eyes within your organization see it helps us deliver the best possible solution for you.

    Want to get Janice in Accounting and the rest of your organization involved in a website project? Holla at us to get started!
    About the author::Jay Mazzone is a User Experience Designer at thunder::tech. He creates sitemaps and wireframes, conducts user research and keeps his finger on the pulse of the UX world to deliver the best possible experience for clients and users alike. When he’s not at the office, you can find him at a microbrewery, vibin’ with friends and family or at the ballpark. He still calls it "the Jake."
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