- It actually happened!
It's been a long time coming, so we're really happy to finally launch something new.
- Having a comprehensive preview available on a test server
From early on in the process we were publishing the work-in-progress homepage and new design for core page on a test server. This made it so much easier to discuss the changes with the wide range of stakeholders who were involved.
- Trying some new tools
We used Usabilla and CrazyEgg in anger for the first time with this project. Both proved really useful, the former for gathering up useful feedback before launch and the latter for visualising usage of the new homepage in a really compelling way.
Things that went well
- CMS implementation
Despite its faults, and we know that lately a lot of you have been feeling the pain of slow previews and unreliable publishes (previews should be better now; publishes should get better later this week), the way we'd implemented the original design in Site Manager made it relatively easy to switch to a new look.
- Developing a process to manage the homepage
In conjunction with redesigning the homepage, we've redesigned the process by which features and promotions are added to that page. York staff can find information about how we manage promotions on the homepage on the wiki.
Room for improvement
- Too many things, too little time
The biggest challenge, by far, was finding time to do the work. We're a very small team of just four people: one manager, one full-time on training and support, two of us trying to do project work but constantly pulled in different directions (eg. CMS preview and publish issues, unplanned project requests). We reckon we get to spend, at best, the equivalent of 1 FTE on planned project work. Given that the recent redesign is just one of several projects ongoing, it's easy to see why we struggle to make quick progress.
- Finishing what we start
We sometimes found that we'd start some aspect of the work with gusto, but then other things would come up (see point above) and we might not quite finish what we'd started.
- Reporting on where our time goes
There are no easy fixes to the problem of just having way too many things to do, but we think a good start might be to reflect on exactly where time is being spent. We track a lot of our time already (using the excellent Tick time tracker) and we track our support calls too, so we have data. We're going to trial having monthly reviews of exactly what we spent time on and hopefully identifying actions we can take to make more time for the most important projects.