Support clinic September – focus on digital strategy
This month in our support clinic we’ve been considering digital strategy: firstly, developing one; then promoting adherence to it, once in place.
Developing digital strategy
One clinic attendee came to talk to us about best practice in developing a digital strategy to meet the needs of their users. In our discussion, we referred to materials from the Web Publishing Community session in August 2013, when we recapped strategy workshops on information architecture, web design and strategy development. These techniques can help your site meet your business objectives, identify your target audiences and manage your pages effectively:
Agreeing goals and targets in advance with a wide selection of your colleagues will help foster understanding of decisions taken when designing websites. It will also help to understand the resource required to effectively manage sites: unrealistic goals equal too many pages, and all too often this causes a failure to keep them relevant. If content is allowed to fester, people won’t trust it (and likely, won’t trust the rest of your pages either) – which will significantly damage your site’s worth.
One diagram we find particularly useful to understand best practice in site design, making clear the need to prioritise site objectives and user needs before designing your site, is provided by Jesse James Garrett:
Implementing your strategy
Another attendee came to us to discuss best practice when their colleagues don’t adhere to an agreed strategy. Social media and blogging sites allow staff members to express their opinions and provide information easily, and this can conflict with agreed strategy. Too many sources of information, news and opinion can cause confusion for your users, particularly if they don’t agree, use different voices, or are allowed to go out of date. Of course, social media can be a useful way to reach your users, but it requires thought in order that the message is appropriate (personal, reflective, informal). We’d still recommend that your primary source of official information be your website.
The best way to prove this is a mixture of analytics, user observation and enquiry monitoring – are your users confused by the mix of messages they are seeing? Do they find the information contained in those parts of your web estate that adhere to the strategy suit their needs better? Having evidence to back up your strategy brings clarity to discussing the best route to take with use of social media. If you want to look into these issues further, our social media training course details these considerations.