You’ve done some hard thinking about your biz and handed in your homework — articulating specific answers to our pointed questions. We’ve had a few follow-up conversations on the phone to clarify some things, but in general I’m getting the gist of what you need. So what’s the next step in the website redesign process? The Workshop! Doesn’t sound like fun? Yes, you will have to corral your internal team into participating. And you will need to pipe up and share your ideas and opinions, which are always welcome. We’ll work hard, collaborating as a group. But all this work will be well worth it when you begin to brag about your awesome, relevant, perfect new website. Here’s how it works.

1. Preparing the Workshop: What are your gaps?

At this point, we take the information we’ve gathered and identify any gaps in our knowledge. This could include gaps about your business, your brand, your needs from the new site, your audiences… all the relevant details that go into great website design. We recognize that these gaps could be symptomatic of the information you aren’t communicating about your biz in general, so we pay special attention to them. We design the workshop specifically for your biz, building upon the knowledge you’ve shared with us and working to bridge those gaps. The goal of the workshop is to get a deeper understanding of your biz and all the specialness about it. This is how we’ll be able to successfully translate your biz to crisp clear communications online.

2. Scheduling the Workshop: Who’s around the table?

Scheduling the workshop is easy…maybe. It depends on how many people need to be in the room. And let’s try to get them all into the room — a workshop in person is far more efficient than a virtual one via video or telephonically. In my experience, a working group of five brings enough diversity and knowledge into the room, but is still a manageable number of voices. These five should be chosen carefully — they should be dedicated staff who can bring insight and expertise about your biz. A diverse perspective is very important here, as is choosing team mates who get your core business, brand and company culture, along with a shared vision for the enterprise.

3. The Workshop Agenda: What does it look like?

The following is an example of a workshop we did last summer, for the nonprofit organization ATFA (Association for Trade and Forfaiting in the Americas). It doesn’t matter exactly what the organization does… what’s important is that they first took the time to fill out our Web Redesign Client Survey. We followed up with additional questions — some of which they answered, some they could not answer. We then built the workshop around the gaps in their self-knowledge so we could help them discover the answers to these questions, and so we could all be on the same page. The deck was distributed to workshop attendees prior to the workshop so that they could be prepared for the discussion. (They came with notes.)

ATFA Web Redesign Workshop

ATFA-Workshop-12-0814-002We designed the workshop agenda to capture the most essential information we needed in order to develop the website. This was a 3-hour workshop, which we find optimal for attention span, as well as the most efficient use of time for everyone involved.




We knew the organization wanted to primarily target their membership as well as potential members, but we needed more clarity. We explored which user type should be the priority, what information each audience would be seeking from the site, as well as their demographic information.

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ATFA had done some preliminary internal research to determine what type of content was missing from the existing site. Because they had passed this research along to us, we were able to create a new site architecture that included the new pages, as well as a reorganization of the existing pages. We were able to use the workshop time to review the proposed site architecture as well as brainstorm some fresh ideas together.

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Next we discussed the existing design and brainstormed their brand so that we could get an idea of the direction the visual design should go.

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The biggest improvement the organization wanted from the new site was a way to manage and automate their membership as well as event registration. Because this was revealed through the client survey, we were able to do some preliminary research and come up with an all-in-one solution that seemed to perfectly fit their needs. They were very happy about this.

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Finally, we recapped what we had discussed and determined next steps to keeping the website project rolling. In this case, it included a live demo of the suggested solution as well as my team writing a proposal for the site design and build. Now that we had specifics on exactly what the website needed to be, the proposal would be as accurate as possible.


The Take-Away

There are a few key things to keep in mind about the workshop:

1. The prep pays off, in spades. While it may be a hassle to get the right people together to fill out that web redesign survey, it’s a critical roadmap to communicating detailed information about your business, and what you need from the new website.

2. 5 people, 3 hours. The majority of the work is in the preparation. Once the structure of the workshop has been defined by the prep, your team is free to be creative and think “outside the box” about the potential of the new site. You’ll be surprised at the awesome ideas that will come out of these three hours of interaction. And your team will find itself energized by the process.

3. Keep your team focused. It’s easy to get distracted by other business initiatives while the website redesign may be lower on the priority list, but it will get done faster, and better, if your internal team stays focused and responsive through the duration of the project. Do whatever you can to keep them motivated and psyched about the project. Scheduling regular meetings will help move things along.

Next Up: Website Redesign IV: Workshop Outputs
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