Content and Functionality Definition

Before implementation is attempted, several steps need to be taken:

  • Current State Analysis
  • Future State Visioning
  • Gap Analysis
  • Requirements for Content and Functionality

Without the future state visioning step, it is premature for a marketing and sales team to begin conceiving of projects, tactics, or strategies they might need. In this offering, our goal is to provide teams with a clear, documented vision about where they want to be - whether it be next week or in 5 years. During this process we gather all stakeholders and decision makers into a visioning session which we facilitate. All appropriate parties are involved so that their requirements/needs are taken into account. In addition, this ensures that all ideas, experiences, goals, etc. are used to create the vision. The outcome is a clear definition of a "better world" that can be used to drive the creation of a project list for implementation. Such a vision also provides a natural "scorecard" with which to measure and evaluate progress as the implementations unfold.

Any implementation requires clear requirements. Often, organizations cannot provide well thought out requirements for their implementation even though they understand what their needs and end goal are. Providing concise and accurate requirements before the implementation starts, or at the beginning of the process, is an integral part of a successful outcome. Because we are familiar with these situations, we can help your organization think through and prepare proper requirements for any implementation. We are skilled and experienced in helping teams understand what's at stake and how to clarify their needs and goals. We can document these requirements so that they are well formed for implementors. We know how they think and we speak their language.

Information Architecture

Based on the solution sketch, which provides an orienting roadmap for this work, we will design the interaction of the site. These deliverables define the overall structure of the solution and provide the “skeleton” that will be filled in by the visual design later. As such, interaction design deliverables are “black and white”, representing the form of the site and the flow of how the users will interact with it.

In the information architecture phase of work, we create 3 key deliverables:

Site mapThis diagram shows all the pages on the site, typically in a hierarchical structure. As such, it is used as a guide to the navigation. In addition, the site map is used to help identify unique templates and to map to the content and functionality definition (from the earlier phase).
Site flowWhile the site map shows a static arrangement of pages and content, the site flow shows how the site's functionality will work. Using process flow diagrams, we design how all the tools and interactions will function
Page templates (wire frames)For each unique template on the site, we create a layout diagram that defines that template. While this template is not meant to represent a visual layout or design, it does serve to "inventory" all the elements on each template. Elements can include content, navigation, functionality, callouts, sidebars, headers, footers, and so on.


Visual Design

We create a custom visual design based on the information architecture and content and functionality definition.

We will perform the visual design in 3 rounds:

  • In the first round we will show 3 different home pages. The goal here is to show the big-picture possibilities and pick a direction.
  • In the second round, we will show 1 revised home page as well as 2 different designs for other templates on the site.
  • In the third round, we will show all templates for the site that are significantly different visually.
  • The final deliverable will be a fully “pre-pressed” PhotoShop PSD for each template, ready for development. We take special care to prepare all our PSDs to rigorous standards that ensure a successful transition to development.

This process can be tailored to suit your particular needs. We can, for instance, present more or fewer initial designs. We can also do more rounds of revisions. We have learned, however, over many years of experience, that the above process is suitable for most projects.

Content Creation

Most clients want to create their own content for their websites. It's tempting to do this because content creation can be a costly investment and because clients typically know their content better than any writer. But we have found it's a good idea to outsource content creation whenever possible. For, lack of content is the #1 reason that websites don't launch on time. This happens because clients underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes to create good content.

We have a system that makes it possible to create good content within a reasonable time-frame and budget.

First, we start with the content definition and site map for the site. Based on this, we create a plan that identifies how many pieces of which types of content will be required.

Based on the site goals, we create an editorial style guide to help streamline the process. This ensures that all content will be written with the same voice and tone.

Then, we look for sources for this content. Note that "content" can mean text, images, video, audio, or content in any medium. If there is a good source of existing content, we put that piece on an edit-only track. If there is no source, the piece must be sourced new.

For new pieces, we typically don't have the subject-matter expertise required to write the content without help. So, for each piece, we identify who needs to be a source. We don't expect these sources to write the content. Rather, we interview them. This allows our writers to focus on writing while freeing up your resources.

Once a piece is written, we follow a rigorous editing procedure. First, the sources review the piece. Then, we show the piece to the pre-arranged editorial board. We compare the piece to the editorial style guide. At all levels, there are review and revision cycles. We manage this process with an online website, so that the complexity of producing large amounts of content is not overwhelming or confusing.

When the content is complete, we migrate all the content to the new website, where a final round of review and tweaking takes place.

During the process, we encourage rather than prevent changes. We recognize that it's hard to edit or review content until it's in the final form on the site. So, we respect that need in our process.