Integrate celebrated its 4 year birthday on April 15th and in celebration, we launched our new website. I’ve been with the company since its founding and witnessed our evolution from the ground level, celebrated several successes and learned from many mistakes. And here’s what I know. Four years of startup life, five iterations of messaging, twelve versions of sales decks and nearly two hundred pages of website content can give the best of companies a severe identity crisis.
Rapid growth often supersedes important foundational building blocks. It’s a hazard many startups face. This year as we shed our startup skin and began to transform into an emerging industry leader, it was imperative to take a step back and put some key content and design elements in place (like design templates, style guides and unified messaging) in order to deliver an always improving customer experience.
Six weeks and twenty-four pages later, we have a new web site—a destination we can now tweak and evolve as our business changes. The web site recreation and development process involved a complete shift in mindset, without which, we would have never accomplished such a valuable outcome. Throughout the process, I learned a few things.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
This African proverb is a reminder that collaboration is key—a tough lesson for many of us. Marketers often work so hard to deliver amazing work that they forget that there is a whole world outside of their department with different perceptions equally as valuable as their own. If we had our druthers, many of us would work alone. Everyone would take our lead. No one would ever edit our work or question our words. And we’d get stuff done really fast, but the quality of our efforts would be only a fraction of what it is when we work as a team. To ensure optimal collaboration, start every project with a kick-off meeting that involves all stakeholders. Use that meeting to map the scope of the project, clarify needs and identify potential obstacles. Schedule regular check-in meetings along the way.
Involve your developers in the planning phase.
Your development team is likely one of your strongest assets. Get them involved early and often. Yes, I know they speak different languages and sometimes it’s difficult to pull them from the world of code. But guess what. Programmers are people too. They have vital insights to contribute and see things in ways marketers don’t. Leverage their experience to propel your projects. And make sure the developers who are working on your project and those who are overseeing it participate in the aforementioned kickoff and check-in meetings.
Get an outsider’s perspective.
Hiring a consultant is often one of the best investments you can make. When you’re in it every day, it can be difficult to have a true 360 degree view. A third-party can help identify areas of weakness and opportunities for improvement to which an organization may be blind. If your project could benefit from an outsider’s point of view, involve them during every meeting. They will be able to provide valuable insights about how your team works together.
User experience (UX) is what really matters.
During the entire web redesign process, the term GUI didn’t come up once. It’s no longer about the user interface and is 100% focused on user experience. Where does the user’s eye go when they arrive on a page? Can they quickly obtain the biggest takeaway of each page up front? How easy is the site to navigate? Does the user know where they are and where they can go next? Are the calls to action intuitive guides to help visitors get the information they need? Whether you are working on a website, marketing content or new product enhancement, keep the user at the front of your mind at all times.
Integrate’s new website is the combined result of hundreds of hours of content, design, development and testing resources from four departments. For the first time in our company’s history, it clearly showcases what our technology does and why we developed it. I hope it is of value in your quest to become an ever-better modern marketer. Now, off to the next big project...