I know most blog posts tend to begin with “It’s been a while since I updated this thing”…but nearly 2 months abstinence is a record for me.
The reason I’ve been absent is because my day job has changed: I’m no longer directly involved in SEO, usability or digital marketing (note the word directly). I am an Online Producer for one of the big 4 UK mobile telcos, meaning my role is to schedule in & plan resource for digital requests/requirements. So, things you see on the website are there because of our department.
This is sideways step for me, since I’ve always been interested in the usability & SEO angle of digital content…and now, that’s all left to other people. We execute other people’s requests.
It’s all good though: my interest in wireframing, design and so on mean that I can add value as a producer – for example, creating functional mockups before briefs are given to the content editors to bash into the CMS, revealing any requirements gaps before we get too far down the line.
As such, I’d like to do an introductory post to the basics of online production.
I’ve had a play with a bunch of tools for mockups and prototyping, and have settled on this lot as my digital armoury (bearing in mind I’m currently PC based, meaning Omnigraffle is out scope for me!):
- Mockingbird (https://gomockingbird.com), an excellent web-based wireframing tool that makes simple drag & drop screens very easy. It’s pretty good value for money too (about £4.50 pcm)
- Just In Mind (http://www.justinmind.com/), an installed application that can take the mockup stage one level further and add more detail & and interactions where required
- Adobe Fireworks (http://www.adobe.com/products/fireworks/), which is even billed these days as a prototyper by Adobe. I find its quick and easy vector graphic creation a great way of quickly grabbing and editing screenshots. Perfect if you don’t need to mock up interactions – just the look & feel
We use Sohnar Traffic to schedule in resource to execute the brief. This isn’t a tool of choice as such, but having not used any others this seems ok so far.
So: how do we get stuff done on the web in a large, blue-chip organisation? At a high level, like this:
Quality starts at the top, and without a good brief, we’re nothing. We’re meant to receive a brief from the business that’s well-written and prescriptive. Note that we’re meant to get one like this: in reality, this doesn’t always happen. In our organisation, though, we’ve the benefit of having User Experience Leads that help manage the relationship with the business, and can help educate them to article their web needs. With the UE’s help, we get better quality input arriving first time. A full summary, annotated screenshots, and accurate deadlines are all useful.
Rationalisation, fact-finding & scoping
Depending on the quality of the brief, the Producer will usually then spend some time rationalising the brief. This is waffle-speak for using our experience to ensure that nothing obvious has been missed out or is unaccounted for. The Producer then scopes the job in terms of time, resources and checkpoints – and ensures things like the requested deadline are all achievable. If they’re not (or if they can be achieved but at the detriment of another project), this is communicated back to the requestor/UE for prioritisation & business decision.
Once the bun-fight has concluded and there’s a final agreement to go ahead, we then start to allocate the resources to do the job. This is usually done in collusion with a Traffic Manager.
Not a killing, but getting the first lot of stuff done. Copywriters, designers and other resources all get cracking. I will go into more detail about who does what, and in what order, later…
Once the first round of content has been created, it’s over to the requestor and/or UE for comments & amends. Typically (ideally!) we don’t want to do more than 3 iterations.
Before being put live to the public, the work is subject to quality checks. These are there to ensure all the content has been signed off, is accessible, imagery is used correctly under copyright, and so on. The final checks are done by the UE Lead for the department that requested the change.
…aaaand there it goes. Live to the world. Hold on tight!
That’s it in a nutshell. Hope you found it interesting.0