Implementing I/A and web strategy when you don'thave control of the content

24 Jul 2008 - 8:32pm
392 reads
Scott Berkun
2008

Hi Todd:

I've seen many projects like this one, and there are some good patterns I
bet I and others can share.

But first: the big thing you didn't include is what the goals are. You've
mentioned a series of constraints, but not the goals. A redesign can mean 50
different things. As long as everyone understands that making big
improvements will be more difficult with the constraints you've mentioned,
then you can still be set up to succeed. But if everyone is expecting the
world, and they don't recognize how challenging the landscape is, you are
set up to fail. Step #1 is make sure everyone involved sees the same
obstacles before you start moving.

* Incentives & disincentives to get others to adopt common standards

Adopting standards is work, and boring work. The standard tricks are: 1)
Make it brain dead easy to adopt the standards. 2) Volunteer to do the work
for high visibility areas yourself 3) Get a high profile part of the site to
do it and use them as your poster child (Be like Mike!) or 4) Get the people
in power to put rewards in place for those who make the move. 5) Tie the
standards to other goals that already exist in the organization. All of the
above can work in conjunction. And of course a bug-bash type pizza party or
some social event can work, if you can pull of the cool/snarky mix necessary
to make it work given the orgs culture.

* Strategies to achieve buy in

Be credible. Be patient. Deliver. It takes way longer than everyone thinks
to earn credibility. If you're good, be patient and you'll earn it. If
you're in a rush, pick the key people whose trust is most valuable and ask
them, flat out, one on one, for their buy in. Say "What do I need to do to
get your full support for my proposal?" And then kick-ass at whatever it is
they say they need you to do. When you get the support of even one key
person, everything else gets easier. They become leverage to help sell your
ideas and requests to the rest of the organization. Bet heavy on single
individuals with heavy influence, who happen to be most open to what you're
doing.

The big mistake I've seen zillions of designers do is the "present my plan
to the whole org at once to get their buy in" which always backfires. You
don't get real commitments from people if there are more than 5 people in
the room. Start small, build support, and don't do the big show and tell
until you can get key people from the team to be presenting passionately
*with* you.

* Ways to manage expectations about what is covered in the redesign

Be up front from day one about what your liabilities are. You have serious
constraints that everyone should understand, but they wont get it if you
aren't crystal clear. I'd make a list of non-goals - the things some people
may assume will happen, but are impossible. Call those out and make sure
those assumptions die early.

* Heuristics for determining where to draw the scope line A lot of this will
be, "it depends." I'd really like to hear "here's what we did, here's what
worked, and here's what didn't."

Heuristics for this rarely work. And when they do it's with great visual
examples, not with a checklist of rules. A better solution is to agree on
who the tiebreaking authority is, and you need the people in power to
enforce that authority. It could be as simple as "If there is a disagreement
about following the guidelines, Todd gets to decide". Or it could be as
fancy as a supreme court type deal, where the 5 senior managers of the
website get to vote. But there needs to be a system in place where there is
one clear editorial voice, or editorial authority. The fear of that
authority can help drive people to collaborate such that that authority
rarely gets the final say.

-Scott

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
oombrella at gmail.com
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 2:56 PM
To: IxDA
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Implementing I/A and web strategy when you don'thave
control of the content

Hi - I'm working on two similar projects, which are site redesigns of entire
web presences. The common factor between both is that we have varying
ability to alter or change most of the content--or the I/A it supports. For
example, consider redesigning NY Times, but only being able to affect the
main page and some personalization features...but not the layout, I/A, or
presentation of any section like Health, Finance, etc. Much of this is
political, some of it is technical. Some of the content _is_ unique enough
to look and operate differently. But my question is this... Does anyone have
any thoughts or case studies of a redesign under similar constraints? In
particular, I'm interested in:
* Incentives & disincentives to get others to adopt common standards *
Strategies to achieve buy in * Ways to manage expectations about what is
covered in the redesign * Heuristics for determining where to draw the scope
line A lot of this will be, "it depends." I'd really like to hear "here's
what we did, here's what worked, and here's what didn't."
Thanks in advance, Todd
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