Previously in this series, Eric Williamson, Acquia's Vice President of digital marketing, shared how to organize internal teams for a website redesign. Catch up and read Eric's blog, here.
Picking Huge as our partner for the redesign of Acquia.com was a big milestone. Courting an agency to lead front-end design was no small feat, and the team at Acquia was itching to get started.
Our project kickoff was fairly typical for a project of this size and scale. Huge brought its A-team from the D.C. office for a two-day working session at our Boston headquarters. The Huge team included representation from strategy, user experience, creative, and client services. From our side, we engineered the smallest team possible to keep both sides focused. This included key leads from each discipline that will be working on the redesign and our intrepid CMO, whom we trust with our lives.
The project kickoff started with team introductions, and a tag-team presentation by myself and Lynne Capozzi (Acquia’s CMO). Lynne and I covered Acquia.com's history, the current state of our business and offered a deep dive into our brand.
A majority of the second day was devoted to Huge’s stakeholder interviews. Stakeholder interviews offer Huge the chance to learn from each group in the company. Every department at Acquia, from sales to product, has different goals and challenges; it’s important that stakeholder perspective helps inform the direction of the redesign.
This period of discovery also extended to documenting the customer’s voice. Huge reached out to a handful of customers we selected based on the size and complexity of their digital ecosystems. We wanted people who have experienced big, hairy challenges out in the wild. People who have accrued scars and wisdom during their years of hunting big digital game. Lots of questions were asked, lots of information was sponged.
The working session shed light on some of the most important challenges our team will need to address in order to deliver a successful redesign. Here are our top three discoveries that emerged from stakeholder and customer interviews:
Challenge #1: How to Showcase our Products
Perhaps the most prominent challenge for this project is determining how to weave Acquia product demos into site experience. The goal of the new site is to create the best showcase of our products, services and customers. This requires us to envision how we show the pipes and wires of our products in a seamless and action-inspiring way.
It’s more complex than it sounds. We are asking Huge to theorize the best way to demonstrate how our products work when several components of our platform are brand new. This means learning new features and solutions, and determining which products are important to prioritize. Is each product deserving of a crazy-cool meta demo experience?
It’s extremely important that we deliver on this challenge. This need was recently underscored after receiving an unsolicited email from a prospect that stated “Acquia is a company on the leading edge of what marketing can do; however, they have not fully embraced and shown on their own web site."
Challenge #2: Increasing Brand Recognition
Our customer interviews provided an informative balance of both positive and constructive feedback. One standout was how they each described their relationship with Acquia and how much weight that carried, particularly when project challenges arose. That’s not a product, but that is a core strength, and point of pride for us. We don’t let our partners and customers fail. How do we showcase this strength in terms of messaging and design? Translating commitment to customers into wireframes is no easy undertaking.
Another interesting observation was that most customer interviewees had not heard of Acquia prior to working with us. A few were familiar with Drupal but not us. This is another major hurdle to address with the redesign; the ever-present brand awareness challenge. We are known as an enterprise level Drupal expert, but that falls short of our true mission and capabilities.
Challenge #3: Don’t Lead the Witness
After a rigorous discovery workshop, Huge now has the daunting task of talking all of the feedback and information and channeling it into three different concepts for the redesign.
Our project timeline with Huge is forecasted to last 12 weeks. This is an aggressive timeline. There is no room for error or deviation from plan. The 12-week period is broken down into a four-week discovery followed by (four) two-week design sprints.
In the initial four weeks, a lot of intellectual property was transferred. So much so that I think Huge hates me. Huge, if you are reading this, I’m sorry. You wanted six stakeholder interviews. I gave you 22. With tight timelines and budgets it’s important to keep the teams and inputs small and focused. We’re still learning the art of keeping it simple.
The hardest thing for me up till now, is NOT leading the witness. If you’re prescriptive with an agency you won’t realize their full value. Let the creatives create. One thing I’ve thought for a while is that it’s not digital experience we are selling, it’s human experience. Agencies are absolute masters of that experience and I can’t wait to see what they create.