It only makes sense that, here at Workfront, we use our own solution to run our marketing team on a daily basis, using it to review almost every type of internal and external communication. A recent website redesign project reminded me not only of just how much we use Workfront, but also how much we rely on it to improve our own workflows and marketing operations.
Smooth sailing in the early stages
Over the past several weeks, we’ve been working on significant redesigns and new copy for our homepage and product pages to help reduce bounce rates and increase engagement and conversions. Like any project, the early stages flowed smoothly as only a small group of people collaborated on developing the messaging, writing the copy and designing the wireframes.
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Once we had approval on the wireframes, the design team moved on to producing mockups in Photoshop. Once again, the review team was kept small and focused, and we were able to get approval for the design with just two rounds of revisions.
The review process slows down without order
When we shared the proof with a broader team of people in the company, we immediately started to receive comments that questioned the content, the messaging, the position of elements on the page, and much more. These questions had all been settled during earlier stages of the project, but the new members of the review team didn’t know that and hadn’t been properly briefed about the areas in which we wanted them to provide feedback.What followed, then, was a bit of a free-for-all that slowed down the review process. The project started to become bogged down with too much input that lacked focus.
While these were minor issues we easily corrected, they served as a reminder about how quickly and easily the review and approval process can slow down a project. Here are three lessons we learned about the review and approval process that can keep your own process on track.
1. Define stages for the review and approval process
By designing your workflow with clearly named stages, the team members in each stage have an immediate understanding of their respective roles. In the case of the website redesign project, we felt the four clearly defined stages would serve the project the best:
- Copy & Design Review
- Technical Review
- Showstopper Review
- SEO/SEM Review
2. Define feedback expectations for each review stage
While good stage-naming provides clarity to team members about their roles in a review stage, a simple set of instructions provides additional clarity and sets expectations on the type of feedback expected from them. Those instructions can be included in an email, sent via Skype, or as the first comment on the proof. In our case, Workfront allows us to send a custom message to each reviewer of a stage when the proof is created.
For the website redesign project, when we shared the proof of the wireframes with the Technical Review group, we included instructions to stay focused on the layout and flow of the page to ensure that issues surfaced by the analytics were being addressed. We asked the group not to comment on messaging or layout, as those elements were already approved at the previous stage.
3. Define who has final approval for each stage
Once you’ve defined the type of feedback required for each stage, someone must be made accountable for the final approval of those stages. Without that accountability, a review stage could be held up by indecision or bogged down by endless rounds of discussion.
For example, the vice-president of Marketing had final approval on the copy and design review stage, while the product manager had the final say on the technical review stage. Once approved at one stage, the project moved to the next stage of the review process, or work began on the next or final draft.
Make every step of the review and approval process count
The review and approval process should never consist of sending a proof to every conceivable stakeholder in a project at once. Instead, by a taking a little extra time to lay out the workflow with clearly defined stages and reviewer expectations, you can expect the review and approval process to flow more smoothly and take less time to complete.
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About the Author
Marcus is a content strategist and producer who loves helping brands craft content that improves customers' lives, builds brand credibility, and demands to be shared. For the last 10 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront, where he oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content. When he's not producing content, he's consuming it, in the form of books, movies, and podcasts.Follow on Twitter More Content by Marcus Varner