We've had the great honor to work with Smartt Strategies to redesign their new website. They needed a new design that would show their work in its best light, improve their SEO, showcase their blog posts and make their event information more discoverable. They also wanted an easier platform to manage. Their previous platform, WordPress, had become cumbersome -- as WordPress often does.
DeeDee Smartt Lynch has a long history of working with the Belbin Method, giving tools to teams to be more effective. Several years ago, DeeDee started Smartt Strategies, and soon she had a small team working with her. DeeDee and her team teach and train on the principles of Belbin, a team-building methodology that helps people and teams understand the personalities, strengths and allowable weaknesses of those who make up a particular team. This helps every individual on the team to contribute in the best possible way.
We were super excited to work on this project, because not only is DeeDee a delight, but her business helps people unleash their talents and work better together. Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re reaching their full potential and contributing the most they can to their team? Sign us up.
Because they are located in the D.C. area, our first client meeting was done via FaceTime (isn't technology the best?). We got to discuss their expectations, the look and feel they desired, the types of content that needed to be covered on the site, and how we can help them do all those things - in addition to helping their SEO, thinking more about a marketing strategy, and using out-of-the box tools that can easily be integrated together to help them run their business more easily, efficiently and without having to be super technical.
We created an estimate of all the work we thought needed to be done and WHY it should be done. Our goal is for our clients to always understand WHAT we do and the benefit of WHY we should do it for them.
Our process throughout the project:
1. We dig in. We reviewed all their current content. Read up on what the Belbin Method was, what it stands for, the benefits of it, etc. We created a matrix of all their current pages, which URLs are good/live links, which ones are dead ends. We seek to understand who the customer is. Our goal is to take in the lay of the land so we know where we’re starting and to make sure we have all the details and have gathered all the context we can possibly can.
2. We do analysis on everything. We look at current SEO ratings, user experience, taxonomy/navigation and start to think about what/how everything COULD be. Who is the site for? How would someone navigate the site? How should we show information? What is the easiest way to get around on the site? How do we provide the right amount of information and make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for? On the client management side, how do we make the site the easiest for them to maintain? What out-of-the-box software can we use and integrate to make it easier to manage, review analytics and automate as much as possible? We do this so our clients can spend more time running their business instead of troubleshooting technical problems. We try to make them self-sufficient enough that they don't need a full development team or technical staff.
3. We create a user-experience strategy. This includes the approach to the work (based on who DeeDee told us her users and audience are), personas, analytics, sitemap, wireframes, and the initial design of the home page. This helps show the direction of where we wanted to take the site, how we wanted to organize the content and get an idea of the design, before spending too much time on executing the work on the site. We also made the recommendation to update their logo and branding ever so slightly, to give themselves a cleaner, more modern look.
4. We built the pages for the website in Squarespace. We lean toward Squarespace for all of our websites for two reasons: first, creating websites has become commoditized, and it's not best to rebuild what's already built; and second, Squarespace abstracts much of the technical bits but also allows you to program features and customize your site beyond the template if you chose. In this case, we chose a template that worked well for content that Smartt Strategies wanted to feature. All along the design journey, we had Facetime check-ins and several email communications to make sure they liked how things were turning out.
5. We got the integrations up and running. We used Google Analytics, MailChimp, and Stripe. These are easy-to-use tools DeeDee and her team can use to monitor and manage their site.
6. We created an SEO and marketing strategy. This includes all of the technical things such as making sure you're using proper titles, headers, tagging, re-indexing, sitemap, etc. But we also provide a handbook specific to your brand on how to buy ads, inbound links, and plan to create regular update to the website and the blog.
7. We plan to give tutorials and teach. This way DeeDee and her team can manage their own website, feel empowered, and be "technical" enough to do whatever needs to be done.
This is a sneak peak of how we work with our clients. Also, it gives us the chance to tell you a bit about Smartt Strategies. If you find your team communication could be better, you might give them a call.
We are thrilled that DeeDee brought us in to make Smartt Strategies thrive, and are so excited for her and the bright future of her company.