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How to manage web projects without setting your hair on fire

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It seems like everyone in the organization believes they know what makes a website "work" despite having no design training. Managers insist that "their" pages look or act in ways directly contrary to the rest of the website. Or the web.

What are the unique characteristics of the web that make managing design a challenge? How can we empower stakeholders while also creating a seamless user experience? And how would an iterative, collaborative design process facilitate a responsive web, one where sites work well on phones, tablets and desktops?

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How to manage web projects without setting your hair on fire

  1. 1. HOW TO MANAGE WEB PROJECTS WITHOUT SETTING YOUR HAIR ON FIRE Kathy Gill 13 October 2014 Project Management Institute
  2. 2. COMMON WEB PM MISTAKES  Not knowing why … leads to  Design for a department head or boss  Design by committee  SMEs make content decisions  Forgetting …  To get advice from SEO specialists  To budget for content migration  To think about scale  Treating the Web like a publication
  3. 3. BUT FIRST, LEVEL SETTING
  4. 4. SETTING YOUR HAIR ON FIRE MEANS …  Undue anxiety for the team  A project that doesn’t meet customer needs  A project hamstrung by internal politics 4
  5. 5. A WEB PROJECT MAY BE …  Building a few web pages for a department or product  Developing a simple web application that collects information  Building a Content Management System  Redesigning an existing web site  Updating content on an existing web site  Using Twitter/Facebook/WordPress.com/etc for some specific reason
  6. 6. WEB SITE PLANNING… A Web Team develops and maintains a web site. A Web Project Manager sees that this is accomplished in a well-organized, timely and on-budget/schedule fashion. 6
  7. 7. SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT… Waterfall is a sequential design process. Agile is an iterative design process. This presentation does not address this religious war!
  8. 8. WHERE WE’RE GOING TONIGHT …  My biases  8 common web project management mistakes  5 tools that can help alleviate web project pain
  9. 9. MY BIASES
  10. 10. “ Basing the design of this website on your own monetary goals has made such a unique and engaging experience.” Said no website visitor. Ever. ~ Creating a Joyful Customer Journey, Aug 2014
  11. 11. EVERY PROJECT TAKES LONGER THAN YOU THINK IT WILL.
  12. 12. I’VE BEEN DOING THIS A LONG TIME
  13. 13. THIS IS THE EASY PART Slide from @jrodgers
  14. 14. 1. NOT KNOWING WHY
  15. 15. Tip Typical questions at the start of a project: what are we building, how long will it take, how much will it cost. MIA: why are we building it?
  16. 16. “ https://twitter.com/MrAlanCooper/status/521483412343771136
  17. 17. Tip How do we know?  Ask!  Watch!  Use online tools!  Check server logs! Then develop personas.
  18. 18. KC WEB USER PROFILES & TOP TASKS King County Elections Web Redesign Project
  19. 19. PERSONA CHECKLIST  Is the persona based on contextual interviews with real customers?  Does the persona evoke empathy by including a name, a photograph and a product-relevant narrative?  Does the persona appear realistic to people who deal with customers day-to-day?  Is each persona unique, having little in common with other personas?  Does the persona include product-relevant high-level goals and include a quotation stating the key goal?  Is the number of personas small enough for the design team to remember the name of each one, with one of the personas identified as primary?  Can the development team use the persona as a practical tool to make design decisions? From How to create personas your design team will believe in
  20. 20. Tip Look for patterns.
  21. 21. 1A. DESIGN FOR DEPARTMENT HEADIORIBOSS
  22. 22. “ Do not build a [public-facing] site that your top executives will love: they are not the target audience.” ~ Jakob Nielsen
  23. 23. Source: xkcd
  24. 24. PROSPECTIVE STUDENT TASK LIST  What programs do you offer?  I want more information about program X  What scholarships and financial aid are available?  What extra-curricular activities are offered?  How much does it cost to live in residence?  How do I arrange a campus visit?  How do I apply? Source: Avoiding the bottleneck: University and college website navigation
  25. 25. Tip Determine tasks from user interviews, server log files -- understand your content and why people visit your site. Break tasks into steps (flow) to build navigation.
  26. 26. Tip ✪ Possible exception to Jakob’s rule: web-based tools for a specific internal audience, such as HR staff or IT managers monitoring KPIs
  27. 27. 1B. DESIGN BY COMMITTEE
  28. 28. “ [When] governed by committee(s), success is not often tangible.” ~ Higher Ed 2009
  29. 29. Tip Design team should be cross-functional in membership and small. ✓ Listen. ✓ Share vision. ✓ Build. ✓ Test. ✓ Iterate.
  30. 30. “ Stakeholder committee should have everyone needed. But they don’t design. https://twitter.com/epersonae/status/521698270884544513
  31. 31. Tip Stakeholder committee should have everyone who needs to be kept informed about progress. But they don’t design. Or write copy.
  32. 32. 1C. SMES MAKE CONTENT DECISIONS
  33. 33. “ To engage users, website copy must speak to readers and not at them. Include words people can relate to, and avoid jargon, business speak, and feature-driven language.” ~ Nielson-Norman Group
  34. 34. “ SMEs hold the keys to the valuable content kingdom…So often, [SMEs] think they know more about the web than you do.” ~ Online It All Matters
  35. 35. Tip When working with SMEs: Explain project goals. Frame content as a conversation. Set limits on editing – factual review only.
  36. 36. Tip The result? ✓ Avoid subject-matter-expert lingo. ✓ Web site reads like users talk, conversational. ✓ Improves site usability.
  37. 37. 2. FORGETTING TO …
  38. 38. 2A. GET ADVICE FROM SEOIEXPERTS
  39. 39. “ https://twitter.com/webconnoisseur/status/521525530407866369
  40. 40. “ https://twitter.com/webconnoisseur/status/521684791616225283
  41. 41. HOW DO PEOPLE FIND WEBSITES?  Organic search  Referral links  Social links (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc.)  Email (not just marketing)  Paid search  Direct traffic
  42. 42. GOOGLE ANALYTICS, KC.GOV
  43. 43. 2B. BUDGET FOR CONTENT MIGRATION
  44. 44. Tip The 80-20 rule is in full force here. Migrating content to a new CMS or into new design templates will take far more time than anyone thinks. Even if they’ve done it before.
  45. 45. Tip Have a plan for managing broken links in a website redesign. One that does not rely on 404-error pages!
  46. 46. 2B. TO THINK ABOUT SCALE
  47. 47. HEALTHCARE.GOV http://www.humorburst.com/healthcare-dot-gov-solutions/
  48. 48. HEALTHCARE.GOV http://www.itworld.com/
  49. 49. HEALTH GOV CHIEF RESIGNS HealthCare.Gov chief resigns
  50. 50. “ 17% of lT projects budgeted at $15 million or higher go so badly as to threaten the company's existence, and more than 40% of them fail.” ~ McKinsey research, 2012
  51. 51. 3. TREAT THEIWEB LIKEIA PUBLICATION
  52. 52. PUBLICATION PROCESS Source: Emporia State University
  53. 53. “ https://twitter.com/Geek_Manager/status/521710337121595392
  54. 54. “ https://twitter.com/Geek_Manager/status/521710337121595392
  55. 55. TOOLS CAN HELP
  56. 56. Tip Google Webmaster tools and Google analytics Trello for project management Inspectlet and CrazyEgg for user data
  57. 57. TIPS FOR SUCCESS
  58. 58. Tip Users first. Write like users talk. Device-independent design. Test early, test often. Keep stakeholders informed but keep design team small, tight. Project leader should understand both IT and comm.
  59. 59. “ The operating moral premise of information design should be that our readers are alert and caring; they may be busy, eager to get on with it, but they are not stupid.” ~ Edward Tufte
  60. 60. FOR MORE INFORMATION  Kathy E. Gill @kegill wiredpen.com kegill.com Presentation link: wp.me/p3eg9d-2mQ  Material in this presentation is licensed with a Creative Commons license:  share-and-share alike  attribution  non-commercial
  61. 61. CREDITS  Hair-on-fire image based upon image from rail safety campaign by Metro Trains, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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