Left in its long shadow are doubt and worry, which creep into the nooks crannies of our minds stepping ever more boldly out of that shadow to announce that the path ahead is too daunting and that we simply aren\’t cut out for that 1,000-mile journey after all. How do those platitudes support us then?
The answer is, they don’t.
Change is difficult for everyone but the absence of a practical, enduring approach to managing change leaves us flummoxed and ready to abandon our precious vision for a brighter future before we’ve ever given it the proper time and energy to manifest.
What got me thinking about all this?
…Our ongoing brand update and website relaunch. It had me, a paid change-maker, reflecting on how I handle change when it’s my project. Thankfully, when my old friends doubt and worry tiptoed out of shadows to begin their work sowing seeds of uncertainty and procrastination, I was prepared.
G+A is a growing company focused on vibrant experience design that elicits specific emotions as defined by our clients. Our website, I felt, should do the same thing, but in its initial format, the site wasn’t cutting the mustard. The original version of gottandassociates.com (yes, it even had a different URL), which featured a suite of straightforward event planning and execution services, was simple and perfect when it launched. As our service model evolved, I realized that neither our brand nor the site adequately represented our dreams any longer and that if we were going to marry our company philosophy of being \”simple, easy + fun\” with the vibrant, dazzling esthetic we infuse into our work, updates were in order.
The project was robust for us: rebranding our colors, company logo, and website, as well as significantly, revising and expanding published content. We had client testimonials, logos, and case studies to gather; page copy to draft; images to sort, tag, and edit; and SEO to begin thinking about in earnest. Not to mention sourcing and contracting a trusted technical designer while launching related company social media accounts. I told myself, “yep, we can do all of this in 4 weeks! No sweat.” (Insert facepalm here.)
During our first project meeting, I took stock of our goals and the steps needed to accomplish them. As we discussed strategy, the conversation turned to the timeline. What could we realistically accomplish in 4 weeks? Could we rush the job to meet our self-imposed deadline, or should we take time to create an engaging and fun website that truly represented our brand? Much like a small child in a candy store with every treat imaginable within arm\’s reach, I knew what I wanted (everything) and when I wanted it (now). Reality be damned!
When I began to face the (damned) reality that as an experiential design firm committed to executing at the highest level, there was no way we could launch my dream site in just under a month, disappointment assailed me. Was I failing?
Was the dream I’d defined destined to remain a dream for months? These were the doubt-filled thoughts that started to wheedle their way into my mind.
As my drive to launch a fully fleshed out site reached a fever pitch days before the planned go-live date, the frustration set in: it’s not as finished as I hoped, people will be let down if we don’t hit our deadline, I just want this project done!!! As I sat brooding about how everything should go, my very wise head of G+A experience hit me squarely in the forehead with the truth 2×4 I needed. “Mal, “ she said, “no one’s going to die if this thing isn’t completely done by next Monday. There aren’t 1 million followers waiting to roast us on social… and even if there were, why would we move away from keeping things simple, easy, and fun for ourselves? Wouldn’t that kind of defeat the point of what we’re doing?” How right she was! And how grateful I instantly became for her perspective and sagacity.
G+A’s Impact-to-Investment Ratio
Her advice made perfect sense, and so I began to run the site content through the same process I would for a client – our impact-to-investment (I2I) ratio approach, which boils down to this simple question: What will have the highest experiential impact for the lowest human +/or financial investment?
In place of return on investment (ROI), which can feel daunting, the I2I approach boils things down to their simplest terms. When considering two options, ask yourself, “What would have a higher impact for a lower investment?” The answer is usually pretty obvious. Of course, when we use the I2I approach with XD projects, we get a fancier, organizing opportunities into four categories (high impact : low investment; high impact : high investment; low impact: low investment; and low impact : low investment), building an aggregate I2I experience score, and playing with various XD factors to optimize that score. But if pressed, we could ask the same question (What would have the highest experiential impact for the lowest investment?) to make decisions quickly and effectively.
I2I + Our Relaunch
Where our brand and website relaunch was concerned, the best I2I came from well-built and beautifully designed home, contact, and initial blog post pages – the bones of a website executed at a level that matched our commitment to great experiences. If we could start there, then seeing the tangible results of our efforts would help us build momentum by taking stock of our high impact : low investment wins in order to power us on to tackle high impact : high investment wins in the form of secondary pages which would provide more detailed services descriptions.
While we use our I2I approach as a foundational element of designing any client’s experience, digital or otherwise, because this was my project, I had become so engrossed in getting it done, that I lost sight of the tried and true approach to designing (and redesigning) experiences and realistically managing the related change. Thankfully, I returned to the I2I basics I know and love, launched our high impact : low investment website elements on schedule, and adjusted the timeline to implement additional changes without killing myself or the team.
Eventually, we’ll move on to low investment : low impact steps like tagging site graphics to enhance SEO and finally high-impact : low investment steps such as creating content-heavy landing pages tied to specific blog posts or social media initiatives.
Little by little, a million tiny touchpoints will create our one big dream of a killer website… and then I’m confident our dream will evolve, and we’ll start all over!
When I created G+A, I came up with a simple motto to encompass what we do each day: “Define the dream. Design the dream.” More than just a catchy turn of phrase, our motto is a touchstone, reminding me to pay attention to the dreams I define (in all of their forms) and approach their design methodically eschewing the chaos of all-or-nothing thinking in favor of a first-things-first approach. Focusing on incremental I2I wins helped me to avoid derailing the project before my dream became a reality.
All the best,
Mallory Gott, Founder, G+A
PS – To be truly meta about this topic, below is the exact message I shared with my head of G+A Experience (and blog master) about my final revisions about this post.