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Design Retreat Jump-Starts Web Redesign

The Challenge

Our client had been through a recent website redesign that failed. They wanted to revise the website, but they were wary of going through another planning and design process. Every department leader and other key stakeholders felt the need to be involved, to ensure their departments’ and audiences’ needs would be met this time. But there were too many cooks in the kitchen–they were not used to close collaboration, there was a lack of trust, and it was hard for the group to reach consensus and make decisions.

Our Work

Our client hired us to get the team unstuck and help them move forward with a website redesign, on an aggressive timeline. We reviewed the existing website and sought to understand why the design process and outcomes were flawed. We conducted survey research internally, with staff and leadership, and externally, with site audiences. We then planned and led a three-day off-site retreat to present our findings and lead the executive team and other departmental stakeholders through a series of planning workshops aimed at getting them ready for the redesign.

Together, the client team worked on a site map. The session was lively and at times a bit heated, but the collaborative setting allowed the team to debate different ways of organizing and labeling site content until they had a proposed navigation structure we could later test with users and refine. Next, they worked in pairs on wireframes of important page types, using poster paper, markers, and sticky notes, and presented and refined their work with the larger group. The workshop also included sessions on taxonomy and functional requirements.

The Outcome

By the end of the three days, we had the start of a new site structure, page layouts, taxonomy, and functional requirements–enough to start formal plans to revise the site and put out an RFP for a new vendor and content management system. The leadership team felt good about working together successfully and accomplishing a lot in a short time. And, we got a standing ovation for our work leading the workshop.

Back in the office, we helped write a case for funding from the board of directors, and were successful in getting the project funded.

After iterating on formal documentation for the sitemap, wireframes, taxonomy, and RFP, we handed off to the new design and development firm, who used our project documentation as the basis for a successful new website.