With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and consumers are reminded that anything can happen. Consumers are looking to the companies and resources they trust to understand relevant, rapidly evolving information and guidance. Brands have an opportunity to grow that trust by creating website experiences with up-to-date visuals, content, features, and functionalities consumers need to quickly navigate and find the information they are seeking. As customer needs and relevant information continue to change at a fast pace, organizations are increasingly leveraging iterative design approaches to launch new digital experiences as quickly as possible.
To successfully implement an effective iterative website design in a short period of time and improve the end-user experience, follow these steps:
Align on a Plan of Action
A business’s main objective is to get the customers what they need as soon as possible. Solid upfront communication, collaboration, and commitment with your client is crucial to everything else in the design process going as planned.
Achieve Alignment with a “Week Zero”
Before design work begins in a quick-turn project, set up a “Week Zero” with your key client stakeholders and working team members. The design process will move fast, and it is important that your team is upfront to confirm, re-confirm, and then confirm again the project scope, goals, and timeline drivers. Identify and align on potential blind spots such as unknown design preferences or requirements, and establish a plan to address these throughout the project. Week Zero is also the perfect time to set expectations for the wider stakeholder audience. Given a tight turnaround, how much time commitment do you need from each stakeholder to make this a success? How many collaborative discussions do you need with them to ensure continual feedback and buy-in? Your key client stakeholders are vital at this point. As your best advocates to secure buy-in and commitment from the wider stakeholder group, they will ensure the entire design process runs much smoother.
It is also important to note that keeping the client in mind throughout the entirety of the project is essential, especially in the beginning. For example, our client had as little as four weeks to overhaul the information on its website with user-friendly design, visuals, and content to make the brand relatable and relevant during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. We prioritized the scope of the project and end-goals within that Week Zero, kept the client’s website live throughout the entire process without fail, and successfully completed the re-design on schedule.
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Hold Iteration Sessions with Key Stakeholders
With upfront planning and commitment secured, it’s time to put the design plan in action. One useful approach to facilitating iterative design collaboration is establishing client and working team iteration sessions throughout the length of the project. When you and the client have a tight business-driven deadline, gaining stakeholder commitment and feedback during multiple iteration sessions aligns each party to when and how a design change will occur, as well as opens the discussion for what progress is made. This approach enables your team to produce designs with no surprises and meet deadlines accordingly.
Set Aside Time to Revisit Design Decisions
Iteration sessions foster collaboration, but not all stakeholders will agree on all design decisions. In a quick-turnaround design project, contentious or undecided sticking points do not have to become a burden during the project, and can actually help the process by encouraging the team to identify what is truly critical for the current design.
With our client, we used ongoing current scope, ”parking lot”, and roadmap lists to help maintain focus on the design task at hand while also capturing potential enhancements for later implementation. For each iteration session, we established a set amount of time to revisit these items. Parking lots contained lists of undecided features or design considerations that might impact the current design phase but were not strong enough yet to draw focus away from confirmed design requirements. Roadmaps contained a list of desired features that likely would not fit within the timeline of the current design but were recognized as value-add features to be reconsidered in future design phases. Implementing strategies like these keep stakeholders and team members aligned on decisions for the project design, relieve pressure, maintain timeliness, and enable the client to improve the end-user experience overall.
Organize Your Content Strategy
When redesigning website content, it is important to build a plan that guides the creation, publication, and management of consistent, relevant, and persuasive content. This is critical when providing content and answers to several audiences and personas. Your design team must consider what written message or imagery the client would like to convey to its consumers, define the tone for the website, and establish a content journey for each different audience. Content strategy must relate to visual design and the user experience to link the what, why, and how, and help the client understand what information its customers care about and need to know.
Bringing the Project All the Way Home
Even with a tight deadline and high expectations to meet, your client deserves an impeccable design and improves the user experience for its consumers. Following these steps will ensure you do exactly that. For more information on creating an iterative and effective design for your clients, contact our user experience and experience design experts today.