the chatc group

One of the largest undertakings for The ChatC Group this year was launching our new website. We’re a tight knit team of consultants, each with our own strengths. Exactly how we pull together to deliver expertise in a chatbot solution is how we learned to approach website design projects as well. 

the chatc group

However, there were three lessons we learned along the way that we want to share before anyone else undertakes their website relaunch. Getting your mindset right and knowing timelines, tools and approaches prior to commencing website development are all key. So, let’s save you some time and money and share our takeaways before you fall into time traps.

Top 3 Lessons from Managing The ChatC Group Website Launch

Project management is a strength for The ChatC Group. We geek out on new productivity tools and putting our agile methods to work on each new exciting undertaking. But like all projects, there are going to be things you don’t expect and changes along the way.

That’s the beauty of an agile approach–we expect the unexpected. Our methods allowed for quick course correction and minimal time spent on small mistakes or misdirections. Here are the top three takeaways from our website development and launch, so that you can anticipate these stumbling blocks and learn from our experience.

1. Getting the Brand Voice Right Takes Time

At the outset of the project, The ChatC Group team laid out the structure of the website, what each page should contain and what the overall goals of the website were. The next step was to write the copy for each of the pages. 

Our biggest takeaway for copywriting a website: Don’t be precious. 

Simply get words down on paper (or Google Doc) in order to have a first draft to work from. First drafts are meant to be garbage. But without them, you can’t improve and figure out what you do need. So speed is crucial here. Get the ideas and goals of the page down and begin writing.

Next, ensure that all the necessary team members are involved in reviewing the copy and giving their feedback. For a smaller start-up, this means having the CEO and founders get their two cents in and comment on whether the copy sounds like them. Even if you are working with a copywriter or marketing team, you need the brand’s creators involved to guide the writer. Otherwise, how will they know if they are on the right track?

Finally, this process is iterative and it will definitely take longer than you want it to. The writers need time to learn the brand’s voice and what the expectations are from the executive team, and those executives need time to review things in between making sales and building an empire. 

Give yourself a couple of months to get the brand voice and website copy ready for launch.

A couple of months sounds like a gargantuan amount of time, but you will need it to get things right, allow for creative processes and be realistic about your team’s available time.

2. Visual Mock-up Tools for Layout Are Essential

Putting the design elements into a mock-up tool for web design helps minimize wasted time on the part of the developers. You may think that the web design team is 100% on the same page as you and will deliver exactly what you said or drew on the back of a napkin. But often that’s not the case, and without seeing the design in front of you, you may give the green light to project hours that don’t deliver what you need.

3 Lessons Learned When Launching The ChatC Group

During the development of The ChatC Group website, the web designers used a tool called Figma. The cloud-based tool made it easy for the designer to share his interpretation of the brief and get feedback from the rest of the team with comments right on the mocked-up web pages. 

Visual collaboration tools like this one made it way faster for our team to redirect when we got something wrong or discovered a better alternative. One page could be designed as the template for the site and feedback given on the same day without the designer having invested time in coding the site.

Other simpler tools exist that can help your team mock-up the website layout before getting started. Google Chrome has an app called Moqups that is easy for any team to learn. It’s a drag-and-drop interface where you can layout your proposed website design and send it to the developer with all elements clearly labelled and placed on each page.

The key is to get the design ideas onto “paper” as quickly as possible. It can be messy, look childish and not be anywhere near the final product. But fast action is the goal. It leads to fast feedback and getting on the right track quicker, saving you time and development budget.

3. Use Agile Methods to Make Real Progress Faster

Built into our company values are many that appear in the Agile Manifesto. Responding to change always comes before sticking to a plan. When undertaking complex creative work, there are unknowns, roadblocks and changes in direction. It’s the nature of the beast. 

So rather than plan out a detailed approach to website design, start by allowing for change. Begin with goals, intentions, layouts and first drafts of copy. But then let you and your team deviate from that first step as better options appear. Because delivering value and ensuring the customer (in this case – you) gets the best possible product is at the heart of agile methods. 

For website design, an agile approach translates into:

  • Crappy first drafts (of website copy, layouts and images)
  • Seeking feedback on progress, not the final product so corrections are quick
  • Team calls and check-ins to facilitate collaboration (not old-school contracting)
  • Fostering an environment where everyone feels like they can make mistakes, learn and bring their ideas to the table

Allow for multiple drafts of your website, and seek incremental progress throughout. Small steps with a team that communicates well will deliver a better final product quicker than one design brief thrown over the wall to a design team operating in their own silo.

The ChatC Group website was a true team effort. It turned out better than we imagined, because of the expert consultants we brought to the table. It also took many more iterations than we predicted, but we adapted. Perfection wasn’t the goal for us, but with incremental progress we’re getting closer and the website will continue to be a living organism, getting better every month.

Still have questions about agile methods? 

Get in touch with us today on our new website!

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