Conceptualizing your website and content strategy with everyone’s needs in mind is a daunting task for any team. It can evoke feelings of dread and pressure to get everything right. Your website often needs to wear many hats, it needs to be a source of information across all platforms for the public while also offering key assets and services to your users. Alongside these critical needs, it also needs to be useful on the back end for your team to use effectively.
A new website is your big chance to finally create a beautiful, efficient, and useful platform for everyone that your business interacts with, and during the discovery and planning phase of creating a new site it’s easy for essential functions to go unknown and thus overlooked until the development phase. These late-game discoveries can make budgets balloon and yield the creation of a less-impactful product than could have been created had these needs been unearthed earlier in the process.
At Stauffer, our strategists, designers and developers lead the industry in creating the most usable, most compelling interactive creative content and web platforms for businesses of all sizes. It is hard for any creative team, however, to be able to build a solution for problems that are not known to be problems in the first place. It’s imperative for a business to completely understand their situation and needs before breaking ground on the project.
Here are a few exercises you can do before coming to a creative agency to help bring your needs into focus and maximize your engagement with an agency like ours:
- Brainstorm and Moodboard
Have an all-hands meeting, take notes and consideration from every department and hear their needs, no matter how big or small they are. When holding this meeting, create an atmosphere that fosters a safe space to air out each department’s individual needs. It’s ok to not have an answer to those needs within the meeting, as the goal of this meeting is merely gathering a list of needs to hand over to someone qualified and experienced to take care of them. It’s like they say in therapy: “If it’s mentionable, it’s manageable”.
Alongside creating lists of every department’s needs, there may be things that are better shown than they are told. Perhaps these needs are aspirational, perhaps they are aesthetic, perhaps there is something you see in another part of the world that you would like to apply to your business in some way. Whatever these nebulous thoughts are, a moodboard of images and notes will unlock new needs and desires that will pay off once you take your needs to your creative team. Websites like Pinterest and apps like Figma are great tools for assembling moodboards and gathering your thoughts.
- SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This simple analysis is a part of every marketing, business development, and publicist’s toolkits for creating a strategic plan. In short, identifying the parameters of these four elements can help your business strategize and make informed decisions to capitalize on what your business is best at and minimize the impact of their shortcomings and external factors outside their control.
When making your SWOT analysis, allow each department to work internally to assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that affect their departments directly. Allow these inter-department insights act as guidelines toward creating a master swot analysis for your teams need as a whole
- Role-Playing Exercises
It is very easy for people to get so caught up in their own needs and workflow that often they do not consider the ways they can be more helpful to other departments. It is also very often too that a business with many different types of specialists could benefit from allowing a department to be seen through the vector of someone with a different specialization than that of the department they are in. Role-playing exercises allow for exactly that scenario in a fun and safe way. Using a round-robin format, allow each department to simulate what it is like to be in another teammate’s shoes.
This type of full-circle immersion allows each department to see the needs, expectations, and concerns from the departments they interact with. It also allows for each role to be looked at with a fresh perspective that may give valuable insights to what your needs actually are.
It’s always helpful to see what your competitors and peers are doing. In some cases you may want to emulate what they are doing and leverage it to your company’s messaging strategy. In others you may see an opportunity to “zig” where your competitors “zag”. Do a Google search of other companies within your sector, research the case studies of your creative agency and note what you like and what you don’t like. You are always allowed to borrow, but not steal ideas from what is already out there. Pair your research alongside your SWOT analysis to maximize both exercises and refine both as you go.
Stauffer’s team can help lead these exercises, or feel free to conduct this discovery work on your own and bring your ideas to an introductory call. Don’t be afraid to bring in your biggest goals, no matter how big or seemingly impossible. After a team of qualified and experienced creatives take eyes to your project, they may find ways to simplify and further refine to a more practical scope.
What makes Stauffer the best is that we understand that no task is impossible with the right set of tools, you just have to know what your needs are to take your company from good to great.