As we entered the final stages of the Discovery process with HydroComp Inc., we ran into a couple of issues that slowed us down a little. There have been minor bumps along the way — which is to be anticipated when two companies that have never worked together before come together to collaborate deeply.
Much like moving in with someone after dating for just a short amount of time, there is some accelerated “Getting to know you” and “How do you operate?” kind of learning that takes place.
Discovery is Part One of three big steps to create a dynamic, strategic marketing program. During a recent in-person meeting, Savoir Faire presented a technical requirements document that layed out the course of action we will take to develop a new website for HydroComp.
Ben, a member of our web strategy team, led the meeting, which included presenting HydroComp with wireframes, which provide a framework view of the new website. The wireframes help visualize the new navigation menu, along with skeletons of several website pages, without the distractions of content, fonts, colors, images, etc.
These tools are used to give the client a first peek at the general layout and feel of the new site, and to prompt a discussion about how and where different elements will be included. We want the big questions to come out now, while the site is still in low-fidelity, as it’s easier to make changes and adjustments at this juncture than later on.
Where’s the Purchase Page?
One of the big questions from the HydroComp team was: “Where can someone make a purchase?” As a software company, this is an important question. However, that it had to be asked pointed out an area where I could have done a better job of communicating our intentions.
Since HydroComp’s new site will not be an e-commerce site, the pathways to purchase will be included within content. We approached this site with a Software as a Service (SaaS) model in mind, even though the purchase process will not be a self-serve transaction. The company requires that prospective customers connect directly to receive a license key. No payments will be processed online.
Each of the company’s software products has a detail page, on which will be the path to purchase. There won’t be a separate “shop” page. Index pages will lay out information about the purchase process as opposed to a “buy now” button. Other pages on the site may include some “ready to buy” or “buy now” language for a relevant piece of software. And, a planned product comparison chart will include the “buy now” button for each software item.
An additional question arose about the company’s extensive document library, and what would be included for launch. We discussed beginning with eight to 10 pieces of content available in the library, since much of it will need to be reviewed for timeliness, relevance and accuracy. Later phases will see the development of tagging and filters for that content, as well as individual landing pages for both gated and ungated content.
Prioritizing page content is going to be an important next step, and we let their team know that they would be doing a good deal of that heavy lifting. As they are the subject matter experts, having them provide some content – even if it is unpolished – will be a big help. We will take their raw content and edit it to work for multiple audiences, including website visitors and Google’s search engine.
We left some “homework” with HydroComp at the end of the meeting, including signing off on the technical requirements document, wireframes and new navigation. Those approvals would take us into Part Two of our collaboration: Build the Machine. Once we begin development of the website and creating the content, making fundamental changes to what we have all agreed upon would pose significant challenges, not to mention would add both time and cost to the project.
Warts and All
When we began this series of blog posts about our yearlong process with HydroComp, we committed to documenting the journey, “warts and all.” We have experienced a few roadblocks, and have found HydroComp reticent to grant the amount of trust we need to do our best work.
While we can’t know where that reticence comes from, we can guess that maybe they could have been burned working with a third-party before (I once had a new client announce to me on our first meeting, “I have baggage” to explain his distrust of me and what he had hired me to do for him). Or, they could simply be a small team that holds their information close to the vest. It’s our job to do everything we can to built trust with them to ensure that the project continues smoothly.
Early on, we faced some hesitancy to provide us with access to their existing website and access credentials to other accounts, like hosting. They were worried that we’d “screw things up,” even though we assured them that our team would be able to audit their infrastructure without making any changes or causing any problems.
More recently, we ran into a challenge in getting editable logo files from their longtime external designer. This person thought that providing vector files enabled us to make changes to the logos. In fact, what it does is allow us to reshape and resize the corporate identity to suit the new website design without having to go back to the designer to request different sizes, shapes or colors of the logo. (You can see more about logos and file types in this post.) We haven’t been hired to redesign the logo, so it wouldn’t have occurred to us to change it.
The interesting thing about these issues is that they are not unique. Roadblocks – not necessarily these exact roadblocks but roadblocks nonetheless – are not uncommon when two companies come together for a common goal. We’ve worked through challenges with clients in the past to get to great results. The resolution of these roadblocks is always communication. In the end, we got the access we needed to the website and hosting; and we received the logo files in the format we need them. Ultimately, I know these hurdles will look like anthills when we look back on the process later this year.
For now, we’re busy wading through hundreds of pieces of content — along with the wireframes and sitemap — to build a content map and content templates that will guide the development of all the content for the new website. HydroComp is an industry leader and influencer, and our next goal is to prove that by bubbling the most-important content to the top.