What exactly does a WebOps agency look like? What kind of projects would you turn to a WebOps agency for? How are they different from a marketing agency, or a web development agency?
The truth is, there are few agencies that would self-identify as “WebOps,” and even fewer who are actively using the term in their own marketing material. That does not mean, however, that there aren’t agencies following a WebOps process.
Many agencies understand that collaboration, iteration, and data-driven measurement are key to the success of web projects, and they have workflows that reflect those priorities.
3 Characteristics of WebOps Agencies:
- WebOps agencies take a holistic approach
- WebOps agencies believe in collaborative iteration
- WebOps Agencies involve the clients in the process
WebOps Agencies Take a Holistic Approach
Before anyone writes a single line of code, WebOps agency IfThen goes through a process that emphasizes underlying business objectives, rather than site design or features.
“We provide the full spectrum of services that you would need to build a website,” explains Bill LeFebvre, chief architect at IfThen.
Working with the client, their team determines the desired impact on end-users.
The focus isn’t just on the mechanics of how the website will work or even how it will look; the first step is to ensure that everyone is on the same page about the outcomes this website should produce, in terms of experiences and actions users should take.
Once there’s clarity and consensus around the strategic objectives, IfThen can start thinking about the functional and aesthetic features, the content and the user experience.
Next, they start working on a design and user interface. Only after all of these crucial building blocks are in place—often several weeks into the engagement—do they start writing code.
WebOps Agencies Believe in Collaborative Iteration
In a “traditional” approach, it’s common for everyone to work on disparate parts of the website process in relative isolation.
In a WebOps approach, not only will the designer work closely with the developer, but so will the copywriter, UI specialist, and the client’s marketing team. Everyone who contributes to the website, whether in terms of code, visuals, content or metrics tracking, needs to think of themselves as one cohesive unit working toward a common goal.
The WebOps approach means that there’s not one big “hand-off” from design to development like you would have in a waterfall project. Instead, all the stakeholders continue to be involved as the project develops.
Just because the development process starts doesn’t mean that everything is set in stone. Collaboration and iteration are core values in the WebOps process.
Once a WebOps agency has started building out the website, clients have access to the development sandbox to see the work in progress. This allows the client to make suggestions, change things directly and correct any misunderstandings as soon as they occur.
As clients interact with the new website, they might decide to change some of the information, or swap out a video with a graphic. The business goals generally don’t change, but everything else about the website may be revisited.
Collaboration means both collaborations between the agency and the client as well as between different agency teams. Creating a great web experience requires many specialists.
WebOps Agencies Involve the Clients in the Process
The focus on collaboration and iteration includes agency clients. In a non-WebOps approach, it’s common for clients to only see the end product.
At a WebOps agency, clients are an essential part of the iterative process and collaborate with the team throughout the strategy, design and development phases of the project.
For example, Message Agency and Pantheon partnered with Cornell University to create a new student experience on their website, which was unsearchable.
Pantheon used a holistic approach to create a website that prioritizes UX.
This holistic process sees web development not simply as writing code, but rather as a means to optimize communication with customers, to evoke an emotional response, and to inspire desired actions. This is the cornerstone of a WebOps approach.
It’s not just about building a site with the best code or the most advanced tools but also using web development as a tool to achieve a company’s larger business goals.
How Pantheon Helps
Pantheon’s platform makes it easy for agencies such as IfThen to create several environments, providing the tools that make collaboration possible. With Pantheon, agencies can create special sandbox environments that give clients full access.
The client’s in-house teams can edit the code, transfer content from the old site, and edit the new content at any time. It’s also easy to move from sandbox environments into a full test environment or production. Multiple client accounts and environments enable full and transparent collaboration without having to worry about inadvertently deleting something important. By employing these development tools, IfThen can still control the project while allowing the client to be directly involved, every step of the way.
Curious about how Pantheon could help your agency deliver better results for your clients?