Inside the industry and inside the agency
Stuart Wells, Managing Director at agency Wickedweb talks to Figaro Digital about best practice within design and build - Article by Jon Fortgang - Figaro Digital
"If you build it," runs the line in baseball drama Field of Dreams, "they will come."
That was back in 1989, but until comparatively recently the same theory underpinned plenty of design and build projects. Now that Google decides on ranking, campaigns are seeded on social and the mobile frontier opens up, brand managers and marketers need to approach the planning and construction of their sites – and in particular SEO - with scientific precision.
Wickedweb are a full service digital agency who specialise in this field. Established in 2002, the company's work with a range of clients over the last decade has provided them with a clear perspective on some of the most persistent challenges – as well as the greatest opportunities – open to digital marketers seeking to optimise their presence across all channels.
"We speak to some new clients now," says Stuart Wells, Managing Director at Wickwedweb, "who've been through maybe two or three versions of a design and build project, and they're a bit nervous at the start. They're saying to us, 'we've made these mistakes in the past, we've seen these errors crop up. How can we mitigate the risk and improve our top level approach to a design and build project?'"
For Wells and the team at Wickedweb, the answer to that has involved establishing a clear best practice procedure which, they believe, helps brands refine their objectives and focus on achievable goals with measurable value. So what, for Wells, does best practice within design and build actually entail?
"Most projects start with a client saying, 'I want to deliver this'," he explains. "'I want to do it in three months and this is how much I've got to spend.' But the reality is, at that point, nine out of 10 clients don't know what it is they're looking to achieve, they don't know how long it's going to take and they don't know how much it's going to cost. And the agencies tendering for the job don't know either, because until you get into those detailed workshops and discussions, you simply don't."
Wells uses a three-part model to describe the approach best suited to streamlining and unifying that process. "There's the budget," he says, "There's the deadline, and there's the delivery. The methodology by which a large scale design and build project is delivered is all-important. In years gone by you'd see the 'waterfall' methodology, where you do one stage of the project, agree it with the client, sign off and then move to the next stage."
The problem with that approach, explains Wells, is an inherent lack of flexibility. Budgets change, deadlines shift and objectives are reconceived. "A lot of times that ends in disappointment. We inherit a lot of clients who've been through that relationship. What we're looking at now is a more agile way of working, where we'll ask the client not necessarily to commit to a definite budget but a budget range, not to commit to an absolute deliverable, but to a deliverable range. And not to set their heart on an absolute deadline but to a range of dates. That way you can enter the project and be far more open and pragmatic and say, 'What is actually achievable here? What are you looking to do as a business and what can we do to give you as much value as possible?'
Given his experience, what, for Wells are some of the most persistent challenges facing brands and agencies as they embark on a project together? Though brand managers may imagine the tighter a brief the better, that isn't always the case.
"Eighty per cent of briefs are actually too specific," he explains. That might sound counter-intuitive in a field where clarity of purpose is key, but more information, it transpires, doesn't always mean better information.
"Most brand and marketing managers will have a good idea of what they want to achieve. Let's say it's an integrated campaign – they'll be aware of some of the things they can do in social media, some of the things you can do with a CMS. But they may not know the best things that can be achieved at that point in time. Often agencies will respond to those client requirements because the clients have been very prescriptive. But that may not be the best way to achieve a client's underlying objectives, because there are new methods or more technically advanced ways of doing things." As an example, Wells cites advances in browser-technology versus Flash. But the point, he says, is that agencies should be able to analyse a client's top-level objectives and then present that client with the best routes to achieving those aims, rather than having to stick to a rigid, pre-ordained road map.
Starting with SEO
Key to any design and build project is SEO. For Wells and the Wickedweb team, it's the foundation on which everything else rests. So how does best practice apply here?
"To get the best results in SEO," says Wells, "you have to be there right at the beginning. Your organic search strategy has to be considered right at the start of the project. And that search strategy needs to filter through to the content audit – understanding where content is going to be placed. It needs to filter through to the information architecture stage, ensuring that the structure is correct around the content and search strategy. And on the back of that it should fall into design and build in a way that's fairly straightforward. You're then at the point where you've got the right foundations for search."
Dealing with data
Though the focus is inevitably on the launch of any campaign, when it comes to looking at data, this is the beginning rather than the end of the story.
"The brands that we see doing best in digital are the ones who understand their data best," says Wells. In the past this meant relying on disparate methods of analysis. "Now, with newer platforms and technology – Sitecore for example - we're able to work with customers, look at the data, look at the audience and actually prescribe the user-journey we want people to go down as we engage with them. That strategy can be put in place right at the beginning of the project and be constantly checked and progressed throughout."
While agility and flexibility are key, Wells acknowledges that the speed with which digital technology moves means specific strategies must themselves remain fluid. What works this year may need revising next. But remaining nimble, adaptable and open to change is a surefire way for brands to protect – and see measurable returns on – the investments they make in digital.
Best Practice in Practice – 10 Tips For Design & Build
- Choose you partner agency on who they are – as people!
- Get the background on senior figureheads leading all key roles within the agency
- Ask about their internal project management processes and methodology, status updates and meetings
- Ensure you know your SLA, response times, maintenance and support retainers
- Ensure you know how they and you will measure the ongoing success of the project
- Ensure you have portability
- Ensure you have performance
- Ensure you have scalability
- Ensure you have targeted content
- Ensure you have data and information
Wickedweb is delighted to announce wagamama’s recent appointment as their full service digital marketing agency. Appointed after an 8-month competitive procurement process which saw 10 agencies shortlisted to 3 for the pitch presentation, Wickedweb is excited to say that work is already underway on the strategy to better engage the target audience online.
wagamama is an award winning Japanese inspired global restaurant chain, targeting a wide range of audiences. The brand is in a strong position in the pan-Asian cuisine market, which is expected to demonstrate recovery and growth in 2012 / 2013, meaning our plans for the future will engage users just as restaurant dining expenditure returns. Our ideas are innovative and ambitious, whilst looking to capture the brand’s Japanese influence and minimalist style, so that wagamama is positioned as the industry benchmark.
Stuart Wells, Managing Director at Wickedweb comments:
“We are absolutely thrilled to be working with the wagamama brand and team on their digital marketing. It’s an account we really wanted to win, as the business and relationship values strongly mirrored our own, which we know leads to the best results. We have some really ground breaking ideas that will help bring all the wagamama digital channels together, and in turn position the brand as one at the forefront of digital within their industry sector”.
Brand engagement is everything to wagamama which resonates perfectly with us – as an agency it is at the heart of everything we do and we look forward to enhancing the digital landscape for this fantastic brand.
Ingrid Williamson – Director of Marketing at wagamama comments:
“Finding the right agency can be a challenge. You want to work with people who understand your Brand and simply ‘get it’. Wickedweb got it right from the start. We are thrilled to have appointed Wickedweb and look forward to some very exciting times ahead”.
Wickedweb are well placed to deliver an effective digital solution. We are drawing on robust experience in the food and drink industry with clients such as Ella’s Kitchen, and in addition can utilise our online brand engagement strategies as showcased by clients such as Gear4, Cosmetics a la Carte and The Lifehouse. This is an exciting relationship and we look forward to engaging the wagamama audience and delivering a real brand experie
Wickedweb are the lead digital marketing agency for The Lifehouse spa, and we have had an exciting time working on their website launch and full technical systems integration.
The Lifehouse case study focuses on an interesting challenge: the marriage of brand positioning, technical consultancy and creative execution. There were a range of objectives that needed to be considered as part of the brief spanning functional, business and creative requirements. The solution executed by Wickedweb weaves these together. In addition, The Lifehouse spa was not visible online. At the start of our work there were no keyword listings and little brand awareness beyond their name. Therefore, an SEO strategy was implemented to turn this around.
This has been a successful case study and the results showcase the impact of the website and the SEO strategy. Want to find out more? Read on to discover how we did it…
Stacey Hedges, Marketing Manager at Lifehouse comments:
"Wickedweb have provided us with invaluable support, guidance and creatively in launching the website. The team have been a true extension to the marketing department and play an integral role in the development and evolvement of the site. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with them and we look forward to continue to drive traffic to the site and future developments"
Schülke are the international specialists in infection control products, hygiene, disinfection and preservation, and are a long standing client of Wickedweb. The UK website was over - hauled by us a year ago and Wickedweb manage ongoing developments to the site and the digital strategy. One of schülke’s key objectives is to maintain their leading position in the market by ensuring the brand engages with its audience in an innovative way.
Following the website re-brand, schülke were keen to enforce this re-positioning, increase traffic to the site and encourage repeat visits. It was also paramount that we worked on raising awareness for the brand. Wickedweb advised creating a members area for the main schülke website as part of the content strategy, in order to bring engagement with the audience to the fore. In addition, a dedicated microsite for the dental portfolio was created to support a key campaign.
Our recommendation also included launching social media activity for the first time, which underpinned their data acquisition objectives. Furthermore, Wickedweb rolled out an SEO strategy.
Find out more about the overall strategy Wickedweb implemented for schülke and how this met the client’s objectives.
Nicola Furniss, Senior Product Manager for schülke comments:
“Wickedweb were integral to the launch of our re designed site which was intended to make us and our products and services more accessible to our customers. Wickedweb continue to support us both creatively and technically in our online activity as pioneers of infection prevention.”
Paul Scally appoints Wickedweb to deliver a suite of digital services across Gillingham Football Club’s portfolio.by Sue Akam / Make a Comment
Wickedweb are pleased to announce we are the agency of choice for Gillingham Football Club, and look forward to delivering a suite of digital services across the Club’s portfolio.
We have recently won the opportunity to deliver a range of websites for the Club, and will begin with the brand identity for Priestfield – the club's conference & banqueting facility. The brand strategy work will roll out into the design and build of the new website for the largest purpose-built venue of its kind in the south-east.
In addition, Wickedweb will also execute development work on two further websites for charities supported by the Club in order to raise awareness and funds. More details will follow.
We will also be developing a new approach and image for the Club’s online merchandising site.
Following the website builds, Wickedweb will conceive the digital media strategy to take the websites to the next level, and will begin with traffic driving initiatives via SEO and Social Media.
Murray Evans, Marketing Manager for Gillingham Football Club, said: “We searched for a partner who could deliver a range of innovative ideas and solutions for several very different needs. We have started with our conference and banqueting business, because it is crucial to the company's success off the pitch, and we look forward to working with Wickedweb on this and our other digital projects in the foreseeable future.“
Wickedweb adds Gillingham Football Club to our existing sporting credentials which include a global strategy, design and build project for Mitre International, a microsite for the Rugby World Cup in conjunction with The Telegraph and a website for Ben Garner, a top ranked squash player.
Wickedweb have published a new B2B case study today for our client Chaucer. Chaucer is an independent global management consultancy, providing tailored, hands-on and flexible support to clients in the delivery of strategic business projects and programmes.
Chaucer approached Wickedweb as they were aware of the limitations of their existing website. It was clear the site had not been an active marketing tool, and could work much harder at lead generation. With an impressive set of credentials and clients, Chaucer is very well positioned within the market – and Wickedweb were keen to harness this potential and build a solution that would maximize Chaucer’s growth for the future.
At the outset of this project, Chaucer put challenging KPI’s in place with regards to enquiry generation via the website. Wickedweb were tasked with a complete design and build overhaul of the website. The need for this was two-fold: to showcase Chaucer’s brand values and personality, and to manage a strategy around content which needed to be engaging and credible to prospects.
Furthermore, there was also a requirement for Wickedweb to implement a Content Management System for Chaucer that met the current brief and was scalable for future needs. Wickedweb’s proprietary PHP CMS was used, with a suite of modules executed to ensure the functionality was in place.
Overall, underpinning this project was a salient challenge that had to be met: How can Wickedweb convey and implement Chaucer’s approachable and friendly business approach across their website?
See how we did it.
We are delighted to welcome Riley Consulting to Wickedweb as a new client - a leading UK construction and property consultancy with over 100 years experience in the market.
Wickedweb have won the opportunity to focus on the design and build of the Group’s nine websites. Following delivery, our approach will be to launch Riley Consulting’s digital marketing strategy which we are confident will take the websites to the next level.
Our focus will be to build awareness of Riley Consulting and its affiliated brands within the construction industry. The key objective will be to build on their excellent position in the market by showcasing the Group’s specialised services to a diverse portfolio of clients.
Account Director Neil Narain comments “We are looking forward to optimising the brand and are driven to deliver a customer centric solution. It is essential that we engage the individual audiences, and the feature rich content we have planned will look to deliver this”.
Wickedweb have built up a solid reputation for delivering digital projects in the B2B sector, including clients such as EC Harris and our award winning work for Bluefin Solutions. We are perfectly placed to deliver a large scale web design and build project for Riley Consulting, with a design led approach. Furthermore, our solid experience across numerous CMS platforms has enabled us to identify moving forward with Umbraco as the CMS of choice.
This project launches in the Autumn 2011.
Wickedweb are excited to work with one of the world’s first companies to launch a brand dedicated to iPod accessories. Gear4 are owned and managed by Disruptive Ltd, and are passionate about music and the capability of the iPod, iPad and iPhone. This presented an interesting project to Wickedweb as we needed to translate this passion into a brand led ecommerce website with an exceptional user experience.
Wickedweb had two key objectives to deliver against: firstly to showcase Gear4's product innovation and secondly to provide an additional channel to market alongside their offline focus.
In order to engage the user, Wickedweb's approach was to ensure first and foremost that the creative execution was brand led, and subsequently arresting enough to evoke desire to purchase.
Our solution to Gear4 also involved implementing the award winning Wickedweb content management system and ecommerce platform across different localities. Our in-house platform was perfect for this task as it allows the CMS user to indicate different tax levels according to the location of purchase. It also integrates seamlessly with payment providers and fulfilment houses.
For more information and to view further visuals see the case study.
Wickedweb are excited to share the details of a website we have recently launched for Cosmetics à la Carte, a complex eCommerce solution delivered on the award-winning WickedwebCMS.
Cosmetics à la Carte are a premium, multinational brand and have enjoyed customers such as the late Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana to Blondie, Kylie, Kate Moss and Lady Gaga. Conceived in 1973, Cosmetics à la Carte pioneered the concept of 'made to measure' make up, and have been pushing the boundaries ever since for innovation. With the desire to overhaul their image and launch the brand online, Cosmetics à la Carte approached Wickedweb for an exceptionally stylised e-commerce solution.
Our brief was quite simple - to create the most interactive and personalised experience possible for a cosmetic brand online, and to replicate the 'human' element usually experienced in the stores. Wickedweb were tasked with elevating the existing Cosmetics à la Carte brand, and rolling this out across the website.
In terms of reporting, it is early days. However, Google Analytics already shows conversion to be anything between 2.9% and 5.9% which is well above average.
Goal conversions are strong at 6%, indicating that key junctures of the user journey are robust and intuitive.
The email campaign that followed the launch of the site is extremely encouraging, with click through rates at 30%. We look forward to building on this as we work further with Cosmetics à la Carte’s e-marketing strategy going forward.
The initial stage of any project is the key element. It gives us the knowledge and the insight into a company and the brand. Before the project even begins we need to address the overall strategy by considering business versus online digital marketing objectives.
We need to immerse ourselves in your brand, the direction, the objectives for online development, and how this ties in with the overall online digital strategy. By covering the all important elements early on, as part of the groundwork, in a relatively short time frame we create a strong concrete awareness that you have of your brand as working knowledge. This gives us a solid concrete understanding in which to engage your brand with your target audience.
Whilst many see this as unnecessary we see it as a necessity. It is imperative that we gain the insight that you work with as second nature. We are the experts of online marketing and you are the experts of your brand. We use our structured process and strategic approach to gain the same in depth working knowledge.
Without this deeper sense of understanding we would still, no doubt, create fantastic results proven through our long term experience. However, it would lack any substance, a purposeful direction, and may appear as an afterthought to many users.
Whilst the technological world we live in spends the majority of its time online, therefore requiring brands to have an online presence. The results need to be considered, phasing developments where required, and falling in line with the overall marketing plan from day one.
Why indeed? At Wickedweb, it is indoctrinated into the team that we always incorporate project management as part of our development process from the simplest website amend to bespoke application development.
You may hear us talk about “the process” and this method of working has helped us gain our ISO 9001 certification. It isn’t a magical mantra but simply a set of tasks that we adhere to when we develop code for our clients.
We have modified our approach based on the world recognised PRINCE2, (PRojects IN Controlled Environments, version 2) and waterfall methodologies and these two elements form the foundation of our process. Simply put, our process breaks projects down into manageable chunks and is sequential. The objective is to proceed through the steps in an orderly fashion, moving to the next phase upon sign off of the preceding element. In reality there is sometimes overlap, and in this way, our methodology is probably more aligned to that of the Sashimi model.
We find that this approach is fair to all of our clients and we are able to risk assess much easier as projects are broken up into controllable portions. Given this approach, we are able to manage more projects in the studio and this in turn helps us to deliver on time and on budget for our clients. Without an over saturated production schedule, we are also able to deliver ad-hoc requests with shorter lead times.
Our Project Management team will help you along the way of course, and it is therefore our responsibility to guide you through this process. Don’t be alarmed if we chase you as we’re simply trying to secure your next slot on the schedule.
So in answer to the original question, why do I need Project Management? Without it, costs and timelines cannot be managed and that’s the last thing that any client deserves.
Contact us to discuss your digital requirements
Tel. +44 (0)20 7183 4999
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