OddBird met for a work retreat in April.
On the Oddgenda: grow the company, and redesign OddSite.
I came home from retreat tasked with reviewing OddBird’s
eb presence, and proposing ways to improve
communication about our process and services
in order to attract newclients.
This spring, after roughly four years as CMO at a health and wellness
products manufacturer, I said a bittersweet goodbye. I was thrilled
about the opportunity to focus on user experience and graphic design at
OddBird, but I knew I would miss writing ad copy and guiding marketing
strategy. Turns out, I didn’t have long topine.
OddBird met for a work retreat in April. On the Oddgenda: grow the
company and redesign OddSite. I came home from retreat tasked with
reviewing OddBird’s web presence and proposing ways to improve
communication about our process and services in order to attract new
I started with a Google search, as many people do when looking to hire a
web development company. Drawing inspiration from the websites of
similar development agencies, I audited OddBird’s current site and web
presence. I read blog posts with advice for clients on how to hire a
great web developer. I collected feedback from past clients. And I asked
questions like “What makes OddBird odd?” and “Should I buy a cappuccino
or a latte at thiscafe?”
Relying on this research and my past experiences, I drafted a proposal
for the team to review. This feedback stage confirmed the proposed
direction and helped to clarify a core OddBird value – the people that
make up our team are the defining characteristic of the OddBirdbrand.
The site outline I created next – showing the flow of users through the
website – pivots around our core value: people. Each section of content
on the new OddSite will seek to introduce and highlight our tight-knit
team of individuals. No matter where a user enters our website we want
to make it easy to get to know us and, most importantly, to start aconversation.
We’re process geeks at OddBird, always trying to understand what we’re
even doing anyway and do it better. That’s another core value, and part
of why designing our new site in the open appealed to us. In our review
of the site map the team left one question unresolved with the intention
of exploring it during development: should we weave our design and
development process into case studies of work for past clients or give
process a page of its own? We haven’t settled on an answer yet, and
we’d love to hear what youthink.
I created user profiles next – an audit of the goals, usage and behavior
of each user type – to focus our content around their specific needs.
Many of our past clients have come to us via referral from other web
developers, so we identified developers as a primary OddSite user. This
open design process fits naturally into a strategy to attract fellow
devs. Consider yourselftargeted!
Seriously, though, OddBird is committed to active participation in the
open source web development community. We plan to continue writing blog
posts about our processes and the tools we use or create to make this
work easier. We’ll continue supporting the community in myriad ways,
through donations, sponsorships, writing, and speaking.
And, just as you’ve reached out to us, we’ll reach out to you with
client referrals and project collaborations of all kinds. You can find us on
Twitter or test out our shiny new contact form. See that contact
link at the bottom of every page? That’s intentional. We want to be in
Another type of user we’d like to reach is the individual or company
that has an exciting business idea and needs a development agency to
build the web tools to make that idea happen. Imagining a day in the
life of this user – fast-paced, focused, creative, mobile – helped me
identify key elements to include on OddSite. We aim to be transparent
about our process and make it easy to find case studies and quotes from
past clients so new clients know what toexpect.
User tasks, or stories, that drive interactions on the site flowed
naturally out of my thinking about types of users. User stories, written
from the perspective of a user, describe user goals for a given task. I
wrote a set of stories in Pivotal Tracker, prioritized them and
assigned each story to a team member. These blog posts about our open
design process are top priority user stories for the OddSite project.
Pop! (The sound of my brainexploding.)
To give ourselves a basic structure for the open design process Stacy
and Miriam implemented a prototype based on the site map. We included
minimal visual design, just enough to make the content readable. I’ve
started creating rough mockups for specific stories in Pivotal Tracker.
At OddBird, we don’t spend time creating pixel perfect static images. We
design drafts. Through pairing and conversation, we continue to improve
the visual design and user experience as it moves from a static mockup
to the interactive and responsiveweb.
My final task before launching our draft was to design a simple banner
with an explanation of our open design process and an invitation to get
involved. It turned out to be a bigger challenge than I anticipated to
make the angled design look great across devices, a challenge Stacy was
more than up to, but I’ll let her tell that story. And I’ll be writing
more detailed posts in the weeks to come about each stage of the process
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OddBird sponsored Python Web Conference 2023 and sent me to attend. In this article I showcase my favorite talks and activities from this excellent online event, including a list of useful resources for web application security, introductions to new PaaS providers, and a comparison of the most popular Python web frameworks.