Our Process

We are often asked what we do, but more importantly is how we do it. Here, in all it’s glorious and gory detail (perhaps enough to bring tears to your eyes), is our brief overview of how we approach our work. We are nothing if not methodical.

User Research

User research is not to be neglected on our projects. This is where inspiration really comes from. We talk to users to ask them what they need to do and what they’re having trouble doing. We can do surveys, user interviews, workshops, and consolidate this all into findings, personas, and user journeys.

When we go through this with you, we create an overarching user research plan. You know what we plan to do, based on your available time and budget. For each activity, we outline the purpose, outcome, and goals. We discuss who should be invited and how; what technology to use; when it will happen; how long it will take. We don’t need any secrets here!

Stakeholder Engagement

Ask what others in your organization need from this work. You never know until you ask. At the start of a project, we outline who the stakeholders are (or who needs to be consulted). We outline whether we’ll do interviews or a stakeholder alignment workshop. Again, we set the purpose, outcome, and goal of these activities.

We give clear instructions for who should be invited and how; what technology to use; when it will happen; how long it will take. We write up our findings and can present a summary back to those interviews. It says, “We heard you!”

Asking others what they need from our project helps generate new ideas. At the very least, it’s a great way to engage in change management activities. Tell people what’s happening, ask them what they need, then reflect back to them what they said.

Content Audit

When we do a content audit, we look at the page structure of your site, the content layout on the page, the available metadata and taxonomy, targeted SEO keywords, any analytics floating around, and gaps in content between what you have and what users need.

This is typically a solitary activity where we apply our expertise and produce a report for you. Sometimes people love this report – it confirms everything they suspected about the site. But sometimes it’s a hard pill to swallow because the content is in bad shape. We always focus on areas that are working well and areas of improvement. We never expect a team that lacks content strategy knowledge to have perfect content! (Otherwise why would you need us?)

Findings and Opportunities

How do you get from here to there? How do you consolidate all the research into a cohesive whole?

Once we finish all the user research and stakeholder engagement we methodically go through the findings to identify findings, whether positive or negative. We want to keep doing those positive things. How do we address the negatives? The things that aren’t work? We collaborate to create opportunities to solve these problems, then report out on these opportunities.

Personas and User Journeys

With all the user research in hand, we can create a detailed persona and user journey for your information landscape. We take the tasks, the challenges, and topics that people want to know about and consolidate them into one area. We then review it as a team and with the larger organization to get feedback.

Content Strategy

Phew! We’re finally at the content strategy phase. Took us long enough to get here! So it did. That’s because the content strategy work comes together once the opportunities, personas, and user journeys are created. You know who you’re designing for and why you’re doing it. You know what you want to do.

Not all findings and opportunities can be addressed by content. Those that can be solved with content are put into the content strategy and onto the roadmap. We write up the content strategy, review it with you, and revise. We create a roadmap, review it with you, and revise.

Have you noticed that we like to collaborate? It’s fun, and it helps you get the most value from our work.

Information Architecture and Taxonomy

This is where the rubber hits the road. Based on the content audit, the personas and user journeys, the findings and opportunities, and what we want to do in the content strategy, we create the site map, metadata, and taxonomy. Your content starts to come to life!

We create the site map, review it, revise it, test it with users, review the results, revise. We do the same with the taxonomy.

Once we’ve tested these things, we start in on the content migration plan. This maps any old content to the new content and gives you a description of what should be on each page. This helps you rewrite the content.

Do you need wireframes? We don’t really do detailed wireframes, but we can do a sketch that’s enough to inspire you. It’s Lo-Fi.

The Next Steps

As mentioned just above, you’ve got the content migration plan. The plan will map the old pages to the new, identify the content type assigned to the page as well as the tags from the taxonomy. It will tell you which persona the content needs to be written for and possibly identify keywords for the content.

This helps you rewrite the content. With your in-house writer, we can hand off the activity. If you don’t have an in-house writer, we can support you with this activity. If your in-house writer needs training, we can support you with this too.

Still have questions?

We thought by now things would be clear as mud! Don’t worry, we can talk about the process, and you can ask questions as we go through the work. Why? Because it’s important for you to understand what is happening, how it’s happening, and the long term value.