A Holistic Approach for Collective Success

We often begin a project taking into account all the roles and disciplines that are necessary to make that project a success — whether that is design, content or technology. However, do we actually follow through with including all those disciplines in a more holistic way, during the longevity of the project?

We spend so much energy passionately discussing which discipline should be considered when. Should design or content come first? When should we bring in development? We take pride in our work and we’re proprietary over it. I get it. But the value in what we do does not lie in whether it comes first but how it solves the client’s problem.

What we should be doing is considering design, content and technology collectively and holistically. We are sometimes caught up in what we each bring to the table that we forget that what others offer is just as important — and sometimes even more so depending on the engagement.

So how do we change our process? Let’s leverage the overlap between skills and roles. For example, at the beginning of the process, a content strategist will create an audit of a given site/experience. This task is also one that a UX designer would employ but for different reasons. The content strategist is looking to review the pages with content in mind. She’s answering the questions: What exists? What’s working, what’s not? Where do we need to fill in the blanks? The UX designer is looking to understand the existing hierarchy, how it can be improved and reorganized. Including technology early on in the wireframe process, allows the UX designer to understand the possibilities and limits of the technology while giving the developer insight to what is being built. It also gives development an opportunity to offer creative technology solutions the designer may not have been aware of.

True collaboration is born out of a fluid process that focuses on the success of the work. Encouraging conversations and impromptu meetings allows for growth and ideas to emerge naturally and holistically. Here are some ways to go about it:

1. Engage the right parties and collaborate on potential solutions

2. Beyond the discovery process, circle back with each other, reconvene, share perspectives and maintain alignment

3. Keep the goals as reminders going forward so everyone understands what they’re working towards

4. Consistently check progress against the project goals

5. Define what progress means for each role/discipline

6. Use weekly meetings productively — review and edit work, mark progress and outline next steps

7. Encourage team conversations between meetings

8. Consider how the work should be presented

9. After the presentation, consider feedback and learnings

10. Begin the cycle again

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Eleni Stathoulis

Strategist. Service Designer. Form + Function advocate. Design Enthusiast.