What are Strategy Workshops?
Your website should say it all–promoting your products, services, membership benefits, and/or advocating for a cause–in a way that attracts your target market and answers any questions they may have. But that often isn’t the case. Maybe your brand messaging could be better conveyed, or maybe your target audience, or the industry itself, has changed. Perhaps navigation issues or a lack of a content strategy are responsible for your high bounce rates. It could be your website’s foundational issues–i.e. not optimized for speed or SEO–that need to be reworked. Or your website is simply outdated and/or deemed untrustworthy.
All of these problems (and more) have a negative impact on organizations, and you know it’s time for a website redesign–because it’s very likely your website has not just one issue, but rather a host of issues. Think of the children’s book “If you give a mouse a cookie” (yes, puns intended).
A valuable resource for businesses or organizations when redesigning a website are (what we call) Strategy Workshops. These workshops are deeply-focused collaborative sessions used throughout the website (re)design process to gather data, solve problems, generate ideas, develop a plan, or reach decisions when cross-organizational/shared ownership or consensus is needed. Our facilitators bring together internal stakeholders and product-team members to participate in well-planned activities designed to achieve a specific tangible goal. Input from the group participants is then synthesized and prioritized during the workshop. It’s a time when focus on (and open mindedness towards) what could be is front and center for everyone.
Learning where the client’s business has been, where they are, where they’re headed, and the opportunities that lie ahead, WDG cultivates big-picture thinking–combining the top-of-the-mountain view with the groundwork expertise needed to get there.
Who is considered a stakeholder?
A stakeholder is anyone who has interest in the project, and has power, influence or control over it. In addition to decision makers, such as the company CEO, CMO, marketing/digital director, sales director, and human resources director, members from the content, design, and IT teams are also welcome to participate and share insights.
What happens in our Strategy workshops?
The key focus of our Strategy Workshops is to put the end user(s) first and view the project through that lens. This entails our experienced digital strategists, first getting deeply familiar with the company’s customer/target audience and business strategy. We get internal stakeholders into one room–people who often don’t have the luxury of time to otherwise provide us with information outlines and detailed prep work–to communicate core issues with us.
- Where the business and industry is heading
- Past and current business strategies
- Strategic opportunities going forward
We then narrow it down to determining the opportunities of this engagement. How can the website support the goals and who is responsible for its success?
We facilitate conversations to talk about goals, objectives and opportunities.
We discuss the end user(s). Who is the target audience–students, faculty, company customer, prospective employee, prospective association member? Depending on the industry or vertical, it’s important to have an in-depth understanding of who is using the website’s products or services.
Then it’s about prioritization and strategy–we make recommendations on the best scope of work for the project, based on internal stakeholder objectives.
WDG’s Strategy Workshop goals are generally designed to:
- dig deep
- uncover insights
- find common ground within organization’s teams
- generate better ideas or potential solutions to specific problems
- build trust and candor between people within departments
- get teams aligned
- motivate stakeholders
- empower participants to take action
Workshop sizes can run from four to six people to up to 18-24 people. Given the current pandemic, the workshops can also be fully virtual. WDG customizes workshops to account for the availability of these decision makers. The point is to use collaborative tools and measures to facilitate discussion.
Can a web agency get the information they need simply through a survey or email? Does it really need to be a workshop?
While it’s good to get stakeholders thinking about their strategies and goals from afar, nothing beats talking and connecting face-to-face. Not only do our Strategy Workshops ensure everyone feels more engaged and part of the team, but it breaks down siloed thinking. There is a synergy and level of critical thinking that happens only when you involve people of varied expertise in real time. It’s the perfect environment for ideation and innovation. The workshop takes two heads are better than one to the nth degree. Ultimately, the website is not owned by one person or one group. There are designers, developers, product managers, marketeers, salespeople, and C-suite execs, all of whom have a vested interest.
Important note: it’s not just about us meeting our client/partner in the project, but about them meeting us as well. It’s about our disciplines-mixing. We, as the agency, are coming in as subject matter experts in the medium and our clients are coming in as subject matter experts in their portion of the business. We then determine the best product given those measures.
Is there a lot of prep work involved before Strategy Workshops?
We never come into workshops cold. WDG onboards strategists to the project, kicking off with discovery, benchmarking and comparative analysis so we can have productive conversations with the client’s core team. Prep work is strong with our team leads (e.g. creative director, technology director and other team heads) so we can ask astute and meaningful questions at the workshop. We prepare valuable exercises for discovery, empathy, design, prioritization, critique and vision workshops to optimize our time together with the stakeholders. There can be a workshop for every goal. These workshops are often scheduled four to six weeks into the project.
What makes Strategy Workshops unique?
Strategy Workshops facilitate conversations and unearth insights that we may not have had otherwise. When clients respond to WDG’s consulting-type questions, they dig deep into business goals and objectives. It’s much more than building a website: the workshops can serve as a catalyst for an organization’s digital transformation. It’s the perfect time to get companies to talk about their future, and for us, the web agency, to build a website that creates value for our clients not just for tomorrow, but for three to five years down the road–building a scalable business.
The workshops give us the chance to listen to our client, their brand, their voice, their tone–to lean into their business and help them digitally transform. A workshop could then change the way they think about Direct Mail or how they market a particular product: an unexpected, but welcomed, ripple effect.
What is the final deliverable to the client?
WDG’s strategy workshops are not undertaken just so we can present it to the client. In other words, we don’t deliver for the sake of a deliverable. The workshops are for us, the agency, to present a direction for the project. The workshops focus our production team so that we can build a purposeful website product–and onboard an information architect, content strategist, UI designer, web designer, integration specialist and other creative talent to launch a website with measurable success. The workshops themselves help us surface that strategy, create a strategy brief and translate that into a production direction for the project: they create an outcome AND a process.
Strategy Workshops are important for cultivating a company-wide understanding of your product and user-related issues by taking a team-effort approach to improving your website. The processes and activities are structured to help ensure that everybody is on the same page, with a shared vision and direction, pooling their knowledge to generate positive outcomes.