Collaborative user journey sketching workshops to encourage ownership of solutions

Ambitious corporate strategies come with equally ambitious ideas. Unfortunately, lofty ambitions can also often be incredibly hard to translate into a coherent vision, and inspire tangible plans on how to bring it to life and act on it.

Our financial services client wanted to know what impact their strategy would mean for their website and beyond. As market leaders in a complex, multi-faceted marketplace, providing a wealth of digital and non-digital products and services for its prospective and existing audiences, their website naturally struggled to maintain focus.

However with significant digital transformation underway and a stated ambition to become a digital-first organisation, now was the perfect time to help get things onto the right track. We needed to address how their digital presence and team culture would need to evolve to support both their short term goals and their longer-term plans in a more human-centred and progressive way of working.

The Results

360° digital strategy

We defined content principles, process workflows and briefing templates alongside recommendations for SEO, technical architecture and the operational and cultural changes necessary to succeed.


Tangible interactive ideas

We breathed life into the strategy through rich design prototypes of candidate solutions, each covering a distinct user journey that showed how audiences would be able to interact digitally in the future.


A plan of action

We created a 90 day roadmap with epic-level user stories to be delivered in an agile and iterative approach, demonstrating how significant progress could be achieved in a relatively short space of time.


The Full Story

How do you make teams and stakeholders more conscious of their users?

After the first kick-off meeting it was clear that our client wanted a digital presence that would enable them to do many things better; service existing users, attract new ones, and allow them to market and promote their proposition more broadly. Given existing technical constraints, they knew they might need to adapt their underlying technology too.

They were looking to Clearleft, and our technology partner NearForm, to help uncover and validate user insights and identify the opportunities to move them closer to their future vision, through improvements to their digital user experience, technology and ways of working.

Our client’s user base was vast and complex, and those we spoke to within the business confessed to blind spots when it came to understanding user needs. We needed to undertake considerable research and bring them along the journey with us.

Alongside our client, we spent the first couple of weeks immersing ourselves in their brand and mission before we began to interview audiences. The immersion into a complex organisation meant we got closer to what the different parts of the business were responsible for, a better understanding of the corporate terminology, and a clear view of stakeholder’s roles and responsibilities before we started. We engaged with internal participants as well as those at external companies with our stakeholders also joining each interviews where possible, to start to get a feel for our user-centred approach.

During this initial immersion phase we also carried out a Top Tasks survey to understand the most relevant tasks users wanted to complete, and analysed site data to see what users were spending their time doing. We also facilitated stakeholder workshops which helped us achieve a number of things: to identify how they were currently working, to highlight existing challenges and opportunities, to share any assumptions or hypotheses around user needs, and to clarify where accountabilities for their digital estate currently sat – particularly around content.

Three photos of people collaborating with sticky notes in a workshop
Unearthing assumptions around user need helps establish a shared awareness and understanding

It was eye-opening for the team to realise just how many people around the business were publishing content to their existing site, whilst virtually no-one had oversight or full accountability. Those publishing struggled with the content management system and often lacked an empathic understanding of the users perspective. Stakeholders became more aware that their lack of user-centricity had resulted in a website that was often confusing and inefficient. It would need a complete overhaul if they were to move on their journey towards their future vision.

Once this initial research phase was complete, we felt it would be invaluable to encapsulate what the user experience needed to feel like in some way. This would ensure the organisation didn’t slip back into internally focused behaviour when conceiving, creating and publishing new digital features or content. We felt some simple but effective design principles would be ideal for this. Every idea we would come up with would be validated against these principles. The digital estate needed to be more human, task-led, and move towards becoming a more dynamic and collaborative platform, reflective of the brand’s core purpose. As the federation of content production was a significant challenge, we also created detailed content guidelines and an essential recommendation to centralise content creation in the short term as much as possible.

How do you bring great ideas to life?

Collaboratively, we began to sketch out the user journeys we’d focus on. In a complex organisation, it was vital that we had input from those people with the technical knowledge we didn’t have. Regardless of design expertise, everyone’s ideas were accommodated and incorporated in some way, which helped everyone feel as if they were moving towards some tangible solution they were a part of and could own beyond our engagement. Low fidelity sketches help enable us to walk key stakeholders through ideas quickly without an obsession over irrelevant details, and make changes or re-prioritise ideas rapidly.

Now that we had some ideas that mapped out a future state, we began thinking more systematically about how all the journeys would hang together.

Content strategy workshops and brand workshops helped everyone understand where the brand visual identity and tone of voice were heading, and how the current content could be improved to better align with the new principles and proposition. We then moved into high fidelity prototyping, incorporating fresh content ideas, a new look and feel, and a more human tone of voice to the designs, providing a redesigned and future-ready site that brought content and design together cohesively.

In order to deliver this ambitious new solution, we identified several foundations that would need to be in place, including a new information architecture and a complete content audit, whilst also establishing the right technical solution to build and manage content and setting up agile product teams for successful iterative delivery.

A phased roadmap set out the necessary activities required to build these foundations, including minimum viable versions of our concepts appended with future iterative phases. As always, we made sure the roadmap was developed in close collaboration with the client, who would be responsible for prioritising and maintaining it moving forward and ensuring it could and would be successfully delivered.

Now they could move forwards towards the future vision – delivering impact but reducing risk, through clear and tangible actions.

Digital Strategy Overview
Extracts from the final digital strategy, including design principles and roadmap
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