Organizing and preparing your team: Continuous improvement of web content

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Establish your team

Web content improvement projects usually require the participation of many people. Different roles are needed to ensure coordination, research, design and delivery.

There are different ways you can organize your team, and some people may have more than one role, but the following roles should be covered.

Project leadership and coordination

The project lead:

The project coordinator keeps the team organized, maintains spreadsheets, documentation and schedules meetings.

User research and usability testing

Research-driven improvement projects require impartial usability research specialists who can recruit participants and run replicable tests with multiple participants.

Design researchers understand and uncover user behaviours and expectations through various research methods.

This group of people could be in-house or through a third party.

Design

Content designers focus on improvements to language and how content is structured or displayed to help people complete their tasks.

Interaction designers build prototypes and provide input on interactive approaches that may enhance the user’s experience.

Subject matter experts

Content improvement must be done with the involvement of subject matter experts, who understand the topic and what needs to be conveyed to the audience. These participants may differ, depending on the program area:

Senior management and decision makers

You need to involve senior management to approve decisions on content, design and interactions. You need someone to champion implementation once research and recommendations are done. Designing web materials for task success may conflict with organizational pressures. It's critical that senior management be engaged early and often, to understand the methods, and to participate in crafting appropriate project goals.

Some of the greatest risks to project success are:

Some of the best ways to overcome these risks include:

Co-design with approvers at the table (blog post)

Set up your governance structure

Improving content for people often means significant change for organizations. To lead a successful improvement project, people working on it need to agree on the purpose, approach and objectives.

Everyone involved needs to be on board.

You need:

Resource: One page project alignment template (Google Docs)

Governance to address barriers

Effective and intentional governance can help address the barriers that may get in the way of project success.

These barriers include:

Effective project governance removes ambiguity about who is accountable for which decisions.

Tips for good governance

Example project governance model

Example project governance model
Role Core task Accountable for
Senior manager Approval and oversight Implementation of improvements
Project lead Implementation of improvements Key deliverables and timeline
Project coordinator Contacts, meeting invitations, notes and records of decision Keeping team consulted and informed
Design researcher User research and usability testing Providing the evidence to drive design decisions
Content designer Evidence-based content improvements Making design decisions based on the evidence
Interaction designer Evidence-based designs and prototyping Making design decisions based on the evidence
Subject matter experts Review content for accuracy Accuracy of content after improvements

Plan for efficient approvals

Approval processes often take time. There are things you can do to make it better.

Involve approvers from the get go

Don’t wait until the end of the design process to seek input from people who will approve the content. Involve all stakeholders at the beginning of the process, and identify the approvers early on.

Make sure everyone who needs to know is aware of the objectives and timelines of the improvement project.

Design and prototype collaboratively

Don’t design and prototype all by yourself. Lead content design workshops that involve everyone that has a stake in the content: subject matter experts, policy people, communications, web advisors, etc.

Use demos to show the design to approvers

Instead of simply passing around a Word document asking for input, do regular presentations to people who will approve the content. Show the process, the research and the actual prototype, and demonstrate how this is an improvement.

The more carefully you prepare content before approvals, the less approvers will need to tweak it. Do the hard work to make it easy for them to give the ok to go live.

It’s up to the project team to:

Co-design with approvers at the table (blog post)

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