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Creating “High Touch, Low Interaction” Projects

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
#Industry Insights, #Digital Strategy
Published on May 18, 2016

We look at how to break complex website projects down into pieces that are more palatable to the client while involving them in every step of the process.

Designing and developing websites is a complicated process. Traditionally, this process has been somewhat opaque, with the agency tasked with building a new website working in a vacuum and then delivering a finished product to their client. At Diagram, we don’t feel that this is ideal. Instead, we strive to make the process transparent to our clients and involve them in every step along the way.

Here on the Diagram blog, we’ve previously discussed how our Design team works to make their process more flexible and palatable for clients. However, this process isn’t limited to design; we work to approach the process of development, implementation, content migration, training, etc. in a similar fashion.

Don’t Overwhelm the Client!

Unfortunately, during the website development process, code is being written that doesn’t necessarily produce an immediate visual result, so it can be hard to provide clients with regular deliverables. In many website projects, this means that firms will do all the development work at once and then provide the entire deliverable to the client, after which training and content migration would begin.

Due to the large and complex nature of website projects, this approach can often be very overwhelming to clients. The amount of training required to understand how to create, edit, and manage content on the entire website is substantial, and migrating a large amount of content to the site will most likely be a massive undertaking that may take months to complete before the site is ready to go live.

At Diagram, we understand that our clients’ satisfaction is dependent on their website project being completed on time and on schedule, regardless of who is responsible for completing activities like quality control (QC) or content migration. This means that our work is not done until the site is live.

High Touch, Low Interaction

Our solution for this problem is to create project plans that are “high client touch, but low client interaction.” This means that we want to involve clients throughout the entire process, but not in a way that will be overwhelming. We understand that the people we work with have full time jobs, and working on the website project is just one small facet of what they need to do each day.

In order to create project plans in this manner, we like to break development resource planning down into smaller “functional sprints”. These sprints can be used to complete work on one smaller part of the overall process, providing clients with a palatable piece of the whole project and allowing them to receive training and perform user acceptance testing (UAT) and content migration without needing to set aside large blocks of time to do so.

A Home Page Sprint

For example, one sprint could include programming for the site’s home page. At the end of this sprint, we would provide a functional home page in the client’s content management system (CMS), and the following activities could be performed:

  • QC – Testing to ensure that all home page functionality is working correctly
  • QC Fixes – Resolution of any issues discovered during QC
  • UAT – Client testing to ensure that the home page meets requirements
  • UAT Rework – Resolution of any issues discovered during UAT
  • Client Validation – Client regression testing to ensure that QC fixes and UAT rework addressed issues correctly
  • Client Training – Training on how to create and edit content on the home page
  • Content Migration – Migration of existing home page content into the new home page
  • Deployment – Moving the new home page into its new production environment, where it will be ready when the new site launches

Once this sprint is complete, we can move on to the next task, and the next sprint will deliver another section of the site or piece of the site’s functionality, after which the process can begin again.

With this process, we provide a high amount of touch for the client, allowing them to be integrally involved in the development process, but a low amount of interaction; they only need to complete their tasks for a small portion of the site, ensuring that they won’t be overwhelmed by everything they need to do.

Make Time for Fixes!

One thing to note is that using this process makes a project easy to understand for the client, but it runs the risk of creating a backlog of issues if time to address QC fixes and UAT rework is not included in the project plan. If these issues are not addressed during each sprint, they will end up piling up and creating more work later in the project. It is also a good idea to include regression testing following UAT rework to make sure any fixes that were made were able to correctly address the issue and meet the client’s needs.

Breaking it Down

Overall, it is incredibly important to keep the client in mind when planning a website project. A project plan doesn’t have to be overly complex, but sometimes, breaking things down into more simple and palatable pieces can be the most complicated part of project planning. However, the satisfaction that this process provides to the client is well worth the extra effort, and it can end up being the element that makes the project truly successful.

Do you have any questions about how Diagram uses development sprints to create project plans that provide the most value for our clients? Are you interested in learning how we can help you build a website that provides you with the ROI you are looking for in your digital strategy? Please contact us; we’d love to hear from you!