The web wasn’t built to last 3,000 years. It’s constantly evolving. Websites can be amazing and powerful experiences, but unlike pyramids, their shelf life is fairly limited. Embrace the tumultuous nature of the web. Ditch your digital roadmap and listen to your users. If you’re still “redesigning every couple of years,” then you’re doing it wrong. Design every day; deploy as often as is reasonable (at least once a month). Staying agile is the key to controlling costs, reducing time, and maximizing scope.
Bolster your strategy sessions by conducting exercises instead of presenting deliverables. Maximize the benefit of a hive mind. Working with a trusted team allows for rapid prototyping and lighter documentation. That means more time is spent testing theories to achieve your objectives.
Read on to learn how to make your next digital project a monumental success.
Simplicity is key to success. Remember this is information architecture, not a timeless stone structure. Clarity and alignment with your team (or agency) in your overall vision are just as important as the initial design concepts. Limiting complexity is a great way to entice users to take their first clicks into your space on the web.
Focus on your minimum viable product (MVP). Starting small is a great to way to rally your team behind an idea and set up for continuous improvement. Digital is a fluid medium and should be molded as you learn more about the problems you’re solving. Add on more later, if necessary. Approaching everything with simplicity in mind will facilitate an earlier launch.
Assess More, Plan Less
Consider the Sphynx. To me, that’s a pyramid gone agile. Because Khafre’s team was open to possibilities, they created a unique and memorable design that stands out from the crowd.
At its best, building a website is an inclusive, organic, and unpredictable experience that yields results far better than you could let yourself imagine. Cover the basics like a sitemap and user flows. But try to move to prototyping as quickly as possible. You’ll have plenty of time to refine your solution documents once your ideas are more baked.
Remember, plans change. Don’t get hung up on them. Stay focused on your objectives. Your team will know what’s important to document.
Tell Your Story
Pyramids are a poetic reflection of the ancient culture. The capstone is like the Pharaoh, standing tall above the rest of the population. Today our culture and business is much more dynamic, and your website should reflect the continuous evolution of company missions and product roadmaps. Engaging storytelling is about setting a mood, making a promise, and delivering the goods! Choose your words wisely. Experiment with color palettes and microinteractions. Heck, you can even try out modern-day hieroglyphics (dingbats).
However you choose to communicate what you stand for and how you can help … remember to be human. People respond to authenticity, consistency, and respect.
Invite Some Friends
The Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed with one user in mind: the fourth dynasty Pharaoh, Khufu. Websites by contrast are built for (large) groups of people. Who do you know in your target user group? That’s who you need to involve.
Do whatever is necessary to gain some outside perspective on your progress.
Get qualified and quantified data as early as possible
Minimize your risk through user testing
Consider a private beta program as a way further validate hypotheses
Even a member of another department can be a great sounding board
This type of direct feedback between the team and the user is a key element of being agile. Our design lab, filament.io is a great example of designers and developers getting user input throughout the product lifecycle. If you’re not already a member, please consider signing up. We’re always looking for new ideas and people to validate them!
Iterate, Make it Better
If you haven’t met the requirements of your MVP, then it’s time to iterate. What needs to change? Does something need to be added – or taken away?
The answer to these questions isn’t easy. Here’s the formula we use at digital-telepathy every day:
Betterment = Simple + Compelling – Friction
Our betterment process includes purposeful iteration. With every new design, draft, or point release, we try to make things better by removing friction.
Get creative – it’s just as important now as ever. Look for small changes that can produce big results. Run simple tests simultaneously to speed things along. You’ll find the right mix of form and function soon. If you’re not sure what to change, try out these landing page tricks to increase conversion.
Launch and Measure
Congratulations! You’ve achieved your Minimum Viable Product. Make sure analytics tools are in place, and then launch. Don’t forget about UTM tags when you announce your new site across the social web.
It’s absolutely critical to define key performance indicators for your objectives. Take baselines and regularly pull data to provide insight to how your shiny new website is performing in the wild. Some trends can be easily influenced, others require more thought … but it’s best to think of incremental changes. These will cost you less and happen more quickly.
Optimize Your Funnel
Real users using your real website. Success. Now, can we have more please?
Tools like Optimizely, CrazyEgg, and Google Analytics can help you move those KPIs in the right direction. Take time to analyze data and create hypotheses for improved performance of your site. Experiment with with different CTAs. Change the color or placement of buttons. User engagement and search rankings can be affected by slow page load times. Tools like New Relic will help you gain deeper insights.
I’ve helped organizations maintain their current stack of marketing sites while simultaneously building new destinations based on the learnings from a previous iteration. Sometimes you need redirects, domain names, refactored code, or caching. Success in digital hinges upon reviewing data and applying it to create the best solution possible. Look. Listen. Respond.
Sometimes the answer isn’t in the technology. Don’t forget to look up from the charts and tables. How’s your story holding up? Are people hungry for more? Optimization can be growth – or change.
Be Autonomous, Be Timely
Embracing the new pace of consumer marketing means putting autonomous teams in place to capitalize on timely events. In fact, innovation is happening faster than ever. Tumblr deploys code to production almost every single day! Context awareness and wearable tech make it easier than ever to get the right message to the right person at the right time. It also means our lives are becoming more and more saturated with advertising.
The Baltimore Ravens may have officially won Superbowl XLVII, but the tweet of the night was from Oreo during the untimely blackout. Social media, content management systems, and email campaigns give you an extensive quiver of tools to get your message out and entice users. Get the right people and tools in place so that you can move as quickly as your budget will allow.
Provide Narratives & Quantitative Data
Try an email campaign or comment cards – anything to help you connect with the most important stakeholder of your digital project. This direct feedback will help your team craft the best possible experience for your target user.
Talking to your users is the absolute best way to understand their needs. Their opinions also come in handy during pesky political issues that may arise with your investors or board. User input can go a long way at providing additional backup for your solution.
We’re making websites – not the pyramids. Stand out in the crowd by serving the needs of your customers first. Your customers will thank you. Be authentic to earn their trust. And use data to add value to their own human experience. Give them something they didn’t know they were looking for but will be excited to find.
Being agile isn’t a recipe for guaranteed success, but it does enable you to explore a lot of options early on to evaluate the best direction to proceed. Relying on small bets limits your losses and maintains momentum toward achieving your objectives.
Those are my thoughts on the modern day marketing. What have you done to increase your agility? Leave a comment. I love to learn new tips!