The Magical Website Experience Machine

15 December 2015
David Friar
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As 2015 draws to an end, and the mince pies appear in the Cognifide kitchen, we thought you might like a good story to mull over.  Apologies to the Brothers Grimm for what you are about to read.....

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Not long ago, in a company somewhere near you, a Big Important Person decided something very important.

"We need to DO SOMETHING about our website," he said. "It looks tired."

"Maybe it's feeling sleepy and it needs something to refresh it," said some.

"Maybe it's drunk," said others. "It certainly seems to fall over a lot."

"This is serious. We're losing our customers," said the people whose business was Business.

"We don't even know how many customers we have," said the people whose business was knowing how many customers they had. 

"Let's get a new one," said pretty much everybody.

They found themselves a Big Design Agency, full of clever people with great facial hair and clever ideas about websites and things.

"I want you," said the Big Important Person, in his boomiest voice, "to design me a lovely, lovely website. I don't know what I want, but it must be splendid. I'll know what I want when you give me what I want. Now run along."

And off went the young men and women, skipping and jumping and whistling a tune. ("Why are they whistling?" said some. "Shh. They're being Creative," said others.)

≈≈≈

Soon enough some rather grumpy IT chaps who looked after the company's Big Machines found out that this was going on and as it was coming up to Christmas they thought it was time for some shiny new toys. 

"We want it to be a Platform" said some. 

"Not just a Platform" said others, "an ENTERPRISE Content Management Platform. With Pixie Dust".

And so they found themselves a Big Vendor of Big Stuff who sent along some sharp young people, who had lots of powerful points.

"It's got components and dashboards and templates and buttons and dials," said the first sharp young person, "and it's all draggy and droppy and sparkly and glittery."

"It lives in the cloud," said the second, "unless of course you find things that live in clouds a bit too scary, in which case you can put it in the cupboard next to the kitchen." 

"It's got magic inside," said the third. "It can read the minds of your customers. Let me show you the new Shape Shifting Module that makes people buy more stuff."

"You can change your website every day of the week, and twice on Sundays", said all the sharp young people together as one, "you're going to be as AGILE as an AGILE THING".

Some of the people whose business was Business, who hadn't really been following the conversation up until now, suddenly got quite excited. This was a word they'd heard before.

≈≈≈

And so it came to pass that the new website was made. The clever young men and women from the Big Design Agency made some lovely pictures of what the lovely new site would look like. The Big Vendors of Big Stuff installed their big and really-quite-expensive-but-well-worth-it Magical Website Experience Machine in the cupboard next to the kitchen. Someone slipped the lovely pictures into the big slot in the front of the machine and it all worked perfectly first time. Trumpets were blown. Fine wines were quaffed. Everyone said it was a Jolly Good Thing. And they all lived happily ever after.

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Actually, I’m not so sure about this last point. In fact there seem to be quite a few rumours going around that although the site was very, very lovely, no one had really thought about what would happen after people started using the Magical Machine. Certainly no one had thought about what the site would look like a year or two later. I’ve heard that the designers got upset and said that the content authors “ruined the whole thing” by adding loads of new pages and changing the existing ones. Then things got very heated when the authors tried to say that was THE WHOLE POINT of the Magical Machine and that it wasn’t their fault that the designers hadn’t drawn any pictures that showed them what the new pages should look like. I think what happened in the end was that about a year and a half later the Big Important Person said, “We need to DO SOMETHING about our website. It looks tired.” And then the whole story started ALL OVER AGAIN. 

Creating and managing websites doesn't always live up to the fairy story, but it doesn't have to end like this.  At Cognifide, we make it our business to overcome these challenges by helping our clients to iron out these often sticky questions....

  • How can designers and technologists work together with clients to devise a design language that allows websites to evolve over time?
  • How can we help clients with multiple websites in multiple territories maintain a consistent and connected customer journey across multiple devices?
  • How do design, content strategy and technology fit together? Is there a kind of impedance mismatch between the world of design and the world of content management, and what can we do about it?
  • How can we make sure that our clients can take full advantage of the powerful (and glittery) Content Management Systems they invest in and how can we help them to become as Agile as an Agile Thing?

We’ve been writing, thinking and working on this for a long time and we think we have, at least, some of the answers.  So don't miss our 2016 blog series about stuff like Atomic Design, Global Digital Estates and Content Modelling coming in the New Year. 

But for now, let’s have another mince pie and a very Merry Christmas.