Website redesign projects come with a healthy amount of change to manage. Savvy clients are beginning to understand that a redesign is more than just better code and a facelift. The term “change management” is beginning to pop up in RFPs and in conversations with clients—but what value does it bring to a project?
Planning a change management strategy is the best way to ensure that the work you put into developing a fast, flexible website has the administrative and workflow structures to support it. While Drupal offers many opportunities for automation, sites still require human beings to truly make them go—meeting all of your content needs means also understanding the author, editor, and other roles that go into creating content. The most brilliantly designed website and strategy is worthless if people aren’t using it. Ready to talk about your change management plan? Let us know!
Here are seven aspects of implementation that will help ensure that your new website isn’t just pretty and fast, but alive with fresh content.
Roles and Obligations
1. Ownership. Owners are advocates in charge of socialization, and mentors for those who may not have been involved earlier. We often see implementation fall apart when assumptions are made or when it’s not clear who owns what. There are levels of involvement outside of ownership that also need clarification. Outline who is accountable for outcomes, who will be contributing content or expertise, and those who do not contribute but need to stay informed, particularly at key decision points.
2. Momentum. Thinking that the work is over at launch is another key point of failure. We see a lot of energy and enthusiasm during our Discovery workshops—people smile and laugh—in large part because we are playing in the realm of possibility. That sense of possibility (and play) will be reignited if you shift the narrative away from change being a top-down burden to a one that is a response to team needs. Incorporating brainstorming and listening sessions with training highlights the excitement of possibility and dissipates the discomfort changes in workflow bring.
3. Enrollment. Enrollment is the shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation—products improve when creators and contributors are personally invested in an outcome. It’s no coincidence that the people who attend our Discovery workshops and who are actively involved in our scrums are more dedicated to the tasks which make for a successful project. For example, ask stakeholders who may not normally come in contact with users to sit in on interviews so they understand firsthand why certain decisions are being made. Hearing the voice of the user directly and having their own expertise valued will transform skeptics into allies.
4. Significance. Don’t just tell people what to do, explain why they are doing it and why it matters. Carefully considered strategies are often distilled to blanket directives by the time they get to the people implementing the changes. Take a step back and articulate the journey from A to B. Seeing the road you took to will help paint a picture of how what you’re asking of them connects to individual success, team goals, and revenue streams.
5. Communication. Ask early, ask often. Listen early, listen often. Clear and frequent communication is a must during times of transition. Create channels where people feel their feedback is welcomed and know that they won’t be punished for not understanding or disagreeing. Assume positive intent, even if feedback isn’t coming across that way. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your development team, even if you’ve already asked them a similar question before. Time and repetition are your friends during periods of transition.
6. Training. As with communication, time and repetition are key factors in training. Things are going to click for different people at different times in different ways. Some people may need hands-on coaching, others do better being left alone with a fat stack of documentation. The important thing here is to provide time and resources. At Four Kitchens, we have teams upload their content as we’re building the site. Early involvement is the best way to test the site and train people on new strategies and workflows.
7. Follow Through. Circle back to the success metrics established in Discovery. Are we hitting our goals? Why or why not? Are they still relevant? Look ahead to 3-6 months after launch—what do you need to ensure everything doesn’t fall apart once you’re handed the keys? Establish regular check-ins with your team. Make sure there is a process in place for training new hires. Also, take advantage of Support Services. We’ve seen tremendous success when our Support and UX teams stay on board with our clients during this transition time. Don’t be afraid to ask your team for help; they are your partners, after all, and want the site to succeed as much as you do.
Action, Not Reaction
I hate to tell you that the work never ends, but…the work never ends. Strategies need to be responsive and adapt to changing circumstances. Unexpected results could mean a new opportunity—not every missed mark is bad. By continually considering these seven pain points, your new site will operate not from a place of reaction, but rather of considered action.
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