Responsive Design Requires Strategic Collaboration

I’ve been recommending to many of my customers a responsive design approach for a while now. I’ve always felt that it provides a consistent branded experience across multiple devices with less ongoing maintenance. The trade off is that it does take more effort to define, design and develop a responsive website.

There are lots of articles about responsive design but this one I read on the Real World UX website is the first one that takes a broad overview of the cross-functional perspectives that should be considered. In  “Deciding whether to go responsive requires strategic collaboration” the author details considerations from the business strategy, user experience and development area perspective. For each area there is a list with a need and a short explanation of that need.

The article stresses the need for cross-functional collaboration to broaden the understanding of the needs in each area involved in a responsive website design project. Without this understanding conversations between the areas may “devolve into arguments rather than constructive dialogue”.

The one thing I find missing from this article is a solution to facilitating these sometimes difficult cross-functional conversations. I believe you need to have an experienced Business Analyst involved in the project. Their role are to elicit requirements from all stakeholders in the project – that includes design and development needs. It is their job to be able to communicate those requirements clearly to all parties involved and make sure they understand each others perspectives. I also believe that a strong, independent Project Manager will keep those cross-functional teams on track and informed during the project.

I like the lists of cross-functional considerations in this article. My recommendation for a successful project would be to include a Business Analyst and Project Manager (or someone who can perform both roles) as a part of your responsive website project team.

Social Media Mistakes

Everyone wants to avoid common mistakes so I was intrigued when I saw the article 5 Most Common Mistakes in Social Media. What I found interesting is that some of these could apply to all digital content in general.

Know what your metrics should be. Just like anything you track you need to know what you want to track so you know if your successful. In Social Media it’s not only quantity but quality. Your followers need to be talking about you. You need to be following what their saying and engaging with them. What do you want to monitor?

Beware of having too many handles. This may dilute your message and divide your followers. For large organizations this can be difficult to keep in check. Think about having one area responsible for keeping track of the organizations handles and providing some best practices and guidelines for them to follow.

Compelling content is something that crosses all digital mediums. To keep followers engaged you must be interested and interesting says the author. This requires that you know your target. Respond to comments and ask questions – be engaged.

Isolation of the social media function can limit it’s success. Many areas can benefit from participating. Plus isolation can lead to too many channels being created.

Lastly, have a plan. Create a road map that defines the purpose for each channel with an editorial calendar. Share the plans across your organization. Understand escalation paths and make sure you have the resources to handle it.

Happy Birthday WordPress

Can you believe WordPress is now 10 years old. It seems like it’s just exploded over the few couple years. WordPress now much more than just a great blogging platform it’s also a robust content management system. The article WordPress is 10 years old today: Here’s how it’s changed the Web on The Next Web opened my eyes to several things I hadn’t known about WordPress. Many high profile sites such as The Next Web, CNN, TechCrunch, GigaOm, Dow Jones, UPS, NBC Sports, TED use it as a platform. A statistic quoted in the article surprised me – “WordPress has 52 percent of the Top 100 blog market share on the Internet. This number dwarfs other platforms like Drupal, Gawker, BlogSmith, Movable Type, TypePad, Blogger, Joomla, and Tumblr”. In addition, WordPress says that it now powers more than 66 million sites! That’s pretty great for open source software. For me I’ve found it a great tool for creating sites and as a wire framing tool. Check out the article at least to watch WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg give the 2012 State of the Word address.

The Formula for Social Media Success

I recently read a great article on the Social Media Today website called “The 5 Pillars of New Media Strategy: There Is No Box”. I was struck by the obvious statement that “the formula for success in social media begins with first devising what success is and how it will be measured”. Seems pretty obvious but I come across many groups who have not set any goals for there social media endeavors. If you don’t set a goal how can you tell if it successful?

The author goes on to say that there is no formula for success. Each one is special depending on the audience you are trying to meet and the behavior you are trying to encourage. Actually, I think there is no one formula for success but many. Be sure to ask yourselves what is the engagement you want with may audience and how does that fit into my overall business objectives. I bet if you ask different 10 different colleagues how they engage with social media you’ll get 10 different answers. Some may be similar but each will have they’re own unique take.

The article offers the following 5 Pillars of Social Media Strategy to consider.

  1. Listen, Search, Walk a “Daily in the Life” of Your Customers.
  2. Rethink Your Vision, Mission, and Purpose.
  3. Define Your Brand Persona.
  4. Develop a Social Business Strategy.
  5. Build and Invest in Your Community.

The pillars speak for themselves but go to the article to read the details of each. The first and last spoke to me the most. Know your customers from their perspective and go beyond social media to invest in the entire customer journey. The author closes with saying “there is no box to think out of, only a blank slate and a series of unanswered questions”. Enjoy.


Do I really need a Graphic Designer?

I’ve heard this question before. As my expertise is in business analysis and development my short answer is always yes. I have dabbled in web design and I can recognize good design from bad but I would not classify myself as a Graphic Designer. I am always in awe of the individuals who can listen to a client’s description of who they are, what they do and what they want their site to look like and turn it into a beautiful functional design.

After reading the article Why It’s a Good Idea to Hire a Graphic Designer on the Design Theory website I now feel I have a better vocabulary to “sell” the hiring of an experienced  professional graphic designer. They use the old adage that a first impression is everything. I would add that you also don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Visitors to your site make a lot of initial judgments on what the see when they first arrive . You may have the best information to share but if it’s presented poorly it will be ignored or missed. A Graphic Designer will capture the attention of the target audience and present your message to them so they will respond to it.