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Lessons:7Length:1.1 hours
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1.3 Workshop Your Way to Better Site Objectives

One of the most important things to be clear on when building a site is what success will look like. Unfortunately, many clients can be vague about their objectives. In lesson three we explore workshop exercises that help clients define and prioritise their aims for the site.

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1.3 Workshop Your Way to Better Site Objectives

Hi folks, welcome back to Workshop Your Way Through the Web Design Process. In the last lesson I shared with you some practical tips of making your Workshops better. In this lesson we are going to apply those tips to the crucial Workshop exercise that everybody should do, defining your business objectives. This will really show the power of workshops because we all know how hard it is to get a client to define exactly what it is they want from their website. And this workshop will help you do just that. Having a clearly defined set of objectives and a way of measuring them, provides a framework for making decisions in the design process. It will help justify your decisions and make resolving potential conflicts over the right approach so much easier. The problem is that many organizations don't have a clear vision of what their business objectives are or their priority. Different stakeholders see the role of the website in different ways. And that can make your job extremely hard, when it comes to finding a consensus. Fortunately, running a workshop can be the solution to this problem. Once you've gathered all of your stakeholders together, begin splitting them down into pairs. Each pair should then write a short statement of what they believe a successful website would look like for their organization. Encourage them to make this as an aspirational statement as they want. Don't let them worry to much about the practicalities of achieving it. The idea of the exercise is to allow them to dream about the potential of their website. And how it could help their organization. Discourage them from talking functionality or appearance. Their job is to focus on the benefits that a website could potentially provide if built right. After you've given them a few minutes to write their statement, bring the group back together and get each pair to share their vision, their statement of how their website could be. As they're sharing their vision, they will mention certain statements that you can then turn into business objectives. For example they might say the website will clearly articulate the kind of clients that we can help to ensure that we get good quality inquiries coming through. This can then be translated into a business objective along the lines of generating high quality inquiries. Write each business objective on a separate post-it note, and stick it on the wall. Once everybody has shared their vision, talk through the post-it notes as a group. Ask them if they've missed anything and that should be added to the list. And also look at these objectives to ensure that they are specific as possible. I make this fun, a little bit more fun by playing devils advocate at this point. A bit like a genie trying to weasel out of granting a wish. For example, if one of the business objectives is to generate more sales leads. I suggest that I could flood them with loads of low quality leads in order to waste the sales teams time following all of those up. They might then decide to amend their wish, for one of the better word, to be generating high quality leads. Instead they make their business objective more specific. With your completed list of business objectives stuck on the wall as individual post-It notes, the next job is then to prioritize them. Explain to the group that if you don't prioritize business objective that they can clash, so undermining your website. For example, users only have limited attention and so you need to make choices about which course to action are most important and which ones you want users to focus on most. Which business objective would you rather then fulfill, generating more sales leads or increasing your newsletter subscriptions. Once they understand the need to prioritize their business objectives, the next challenge is achieving this without endless debate. The way I normally approach the problem is to get everybody out of their chairs and over to the wall. I then get each of them individually to rate each post-it note business objective in order of priority. But I ask them to only prioritize the top five. I don't necessarily get them to do every single one. Write number one on the post-it note may consider most important and number five on the one they consider least important out of their chosen list. Once they've done that I remove any post-it note that don't have any numbers written against them. And I take the remaining post-it notes and order them based on people's notes. Those with the lowest number appear at the top of the list, and those with highest numbers appear at the bottom of the list. So now we have our prioritized set of business objectives for the website. And after a short conversation to ensure that everyone is happy with those, and there's nobody deeply unhappy with the order that's been produced, we move on to measuring those objectives. It's important to get agreement from stakeholders on the way that you're going to measure the success of your website. If we don't have clear metrics, this leaves it open at a later date for a stakeholder to turn around and argue that the website is failing to meet one of those objectives. Presuming there are enough people in the room, split the groups down, and give each of those smaller groups a business objective to look at. If there are too few people, get everyone working individually or just select the top few business objectives to support how many people you've got in the room. Ask each group to now come up with a potential way of measuring that objective. Now, this will prove challenging as some of the objectives will be quite difficult to define in terms of a measurable success criteria. To help them in this process, explain that measuring something is better than not measuring anything at all. In other words, make sure they understand that their metric doesn't need to be perfect. I also recommend going from group to group as they're thinking about this to provide a helping hand as necessary. Once that has been done, bring the group back together and discuss the results. Once again, emphasize that no metric is gonna be perfect, but it'll at least give you some way of judging the success or failure of your new website. Follow this up with a quick discussion around the list to ensure that everyone's happy with what you're got, and how you're gonna measure them, and then move on. The final exercise I would encourage you to do relates closely to business objectives, but takes a slightly different angle. Business objectives will certainly help you justify and assess many of the decisions you make as a designer. But it's often useful to lay down some guiding principles to ensure that stakeholders don't fall back on their personal opinions when assessing design. Explain to the group that you wish to create some guiding principles to help define how the new website is gonna be run and how you're gonna go about building it. And how it will go about helping you achieve your business objectives. For this exercise, split them into two groups. One group is gonna be the Americans and the other, the British. You're going to give each group an example of some guiding principles to inspire them to come up with their own. The American group is gonna get the U.S. Digital Service Playbook, and the UK group is gonna get the British government's Digital Service Manual. Both of these websites are great lists of guiding principles that can be applied to almost any organization and should inspire your stakeholders to create their own list. Give each group time to read through their manual. And then encourage them to decide which of the example guiding principles could be applied to their organization. Also give them the opportunity to come up with their own guiding principles that they think would be appropriate to their site too. Bring the groups back together and compare the two lists. At this point encourage some lively debate about which is better. The American's or the British. Use this debate to refine the two lists down in to a set of guiding principles for this project and their website. So that's about it for this lesson. Hopefully, you can now see that workshop could be a useful way of extracting important information from stakeholders and avoiding endless debate. The one lesson I really want you to take away from this video, is can be found in that last exercise. Expecting stakeholders to come up with ideas without something to inspire them is a tall order and expects quite a lot really. That's why showing them something like the government service manual or providing them with some other starting point will make your workshops that more successful. In our next lesson, we're going to look at how workshops can help stakeholders define their target audience and prioritize them to ensure better websites. But until then, thanks for watching.

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