Weeknotes: 10.2014

On March 6th, 2014, posted in: weeknotes by

Those of you lucky enough to know Sir Henry Rawlinson of Rawlinson End  (a fine old figure from the annals of radio history) will remember a character rich in repugnant charm. This week, I’ve been thinking about him rather more than usual, and for one good reason…

“I don’t know what I want, but I want it now!”, grunts Sir Henry one morning, spread all ends up on the floor, pinned by a hangover, and urgently craving breakfast. The same words might well have sufficed for the Frankly, Green + Webb team this week as we set soberly about the testing task of developing our new website.

Viv Stanshall – the man behind Sir Henry

Having fallen out of love with our current site (though we still regard it with warm affection), it’s fair to say we’d like to see the new one up as soon as possible. But in the rush, we’re having to confront and manage a number of challenges familiar to us from our client work. Two of the hardest to stare down are these:

Getting perspective on something to which we’ve become very close
Audiences lie at the very heart of what we do. We work with organisations to help them understand the people that use their products and services. By carrying out research into users, we help shape the design of digital tools that are fit for purpose.

But self-diagnosis is tricky. We’re so very close to our website, so accustomed to its content, and perhaps also so attached to certain preconceptions of its visitors, that imagining it any differently takes a significant mental leap. To make the best of the new site, we want to know why people would visit it, and what they’re looking for from it. How can we get sufficient distance from what we already know to be able to answer those questions clearly and honestly?

Realising that fixing what’s wrong with the old site might not lead us to the best possible new site
It’s tempting to think that by simply updating, upgrading and freshening up an old product, we’ll end up with a suitable new one. However, that approach risks simply throwing good money after bad. If we work from the same template that underpins our old website, there is a chance we might simply reinforce bad concepts and errant first principles.

Sometimes change can’t come quickly enough, but making change without due consideration can put you in a worse position than the one you started in. Change means opportunity, but it carries with it significant risk.

To try to come to terms with these difficulties we’re looking both inside and outside the business. On the one hand we’re using our own tried and trusted methodologies – developing user journeys and user personas to test our understanding of our visitors and clients. On the other hand, however, we’ve turned to a trio of designers and developers to give us a fresh perspective on the site, shake us out of old habits, and help us see where new opportunities might be hiding.

Whatever happens, change is coming, so do keep checking back, and let us know what you think when the new site launches later this year.

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