Jillian Warren

Digital Project Management & Communications

Category: Web PM Feature

Lenovo Blogs and Social: A New Connection for Those Who “Do”

Lenovo Social Homepage

January 3, 2012
Written for Viget Labs’ Four Labs Blog
Original Post

2011 was a banner year for Lenovo. This international tech company was crowned the #3 global PC maker, rolled out a snazzy new brand campaign (have you seen its For Those Who Do ads?), and partnered with Viget to launch the new Lenovo Blogs and Social pages.

Our goal for this redesign was to centralize Lenovo’s existing blogs and social media in an engaging, navigable, and branded way, using one easily maintainable CMS. This would solve a few of the old sites’ big problems:

  1. Their dated designs no longer aligned with the brand’s message or high-tech look.
  2. It was difficult to make quick edits to the site and to manage so many authors.
  3. The Blogs section was divided into nine separate, ambiguously-named blogs, making it difficult for users to find relevant content.

The new Blogs and Social pages solve problem #1 through a gorgeous look and feel that really matches the brand. Check out the new Blogs homepage as an example:

Lenovo Blogs Homepage

To tackle problem #2, we built the site using the ExpressionEngine CMS. Now, the Lenovo team can quickly jump in to the back-end of the site to manage blog content, and each contributing author gets his own account with unique permissions to access the content areas relevant to him. We also set up easily curated social media feeds and different languages for Lenovo’s worldwide audience.

We addressed problem #3 by reorganizing the Blogs structure. We created a new tagging schema that de-compartmentalizes blog topics and makes it easier for users to find content. Now, users can click through all blog posts in one place; plus, they can filter by topics, products, recency, or popularity.

Lenovo Tagging Schema

Such a high-tech, high-energy company needs a web site that can keep up with it, and the new Lenovo Blogs and Social pages are certainly up to the task! We hope they serve Lenovo well, and many thanks to Erik, Nano, and the rest of the team for a fun, successful project!

The Key to Starting a Project Off Right

Web Project Team

October 4, 2011
Written for Viget Labs’ Four Labs Blog
Original Post

You’ve put together the proposal, made the pitch, and sold the project. Great! Now, it’s time for the kick-off meeting.

Kick-off meetings can be intimidating. In some cases, it’s the first time you’ll meet the client, and it’s always a key moment in determining the course and tone of the project. A great kick-off can lead to smooth sailing, while a not-so-great one can initiate months of misery. Make sure you don’t go into this meeting unprepared.

Here at Viget, to prepare for kick-off, we start each project with an internal kick-off meeting. That’s right; we kick off our kick-offs. A few days before the real, client-facing meeting, we gather the whole internal team together to get everyone on the same page.

This is crucial. Going into a kick-off with an informed team and a deliberate plan helps you get the most out of your discussion — learning as much as possible and making important project decisions without wasting valuable hours, money, and face-to-face client time. In my experience, project kick-offs without internal preparation often feel disjointed. There is no clear team vision or cohesion, and the kick-off becomes more about about educating the internal team than about laying the foundation for a successful project and relationship.

My internal kick-off agendas typically include:

  • Information on the internal team. We’ll be spending the next several weeks or months working together, so we set expectations early about who is on the team and each individual’s role. We also discuss internal communications methods, like which systems we’ll use to share deliverables or outline details of specific tasks or tickets.
  • A basic introduction to the client and the project. We review the history of our relationship with this client, the client’s main stakeholders, and the “10,000-foot” overview of the project — including high-level goals and motivation. I also provide links to any relevant documents or research: contracts, notes from the sales process, analytics, client-provided documents, etc.
  • Scope details. Although the PM will largely be the only one concerned with money, schedule, and contractual obligations throughout the project, it certainly helps if the whole team is aware of the constraints from day one. We discuss the budget, timeline, process, and deliverables. Everyone knows what is expected of them — both individually and as a team. This also gives us a great opportunity to discuss anything we might want to change about the project process or any new approach we might want to try.
  • A discussion of next steps. Now that we’re familiar with the nitty-gritty, we decide how to actually kick off the project. We not only figure out the logistics of the kick-off meeting — like meeting location, transportation, dress code, and technological requirements — but we also start to set the agenda. While many kick-off agendas cover the same basic topics, we deviate from the standard and customize our discussions for each project. We make sure to touch on any red flags or important questions that came up during our internal discussions, and we suggest any exercises or “games” we want to run with the client.

After the internal kick-off, there is still more preparation to be done. The team does research, reviews project documents and analytics, and prepares any visuals, slideshows, data, or exercises needed for the kick-off meeting. We also ask our clients to fill out an introductory survey about their business, users, goals, and preferences — so we review those responses, too.

Meanwhile, the project manager uses the internal kick-off conversation as a guide to create the kick-off agenda. The whole team will review and approve the agenda before it gets finalized and sent to the client. Also, here’s a nifty PM trick: create two versions of the kick-off agenda. The client-facing version is the “official” version, and the internal version includes additional questions, notes, and info on who will be leading each point of discussion.

I’m sure every project manager starts his projects differently. Even Viget PMs have their subtle differences! How do you start your projects? Do you kick off your kick-offs, and what do you discuss?

The Red and Blue, Reimagined: the new UPenn.edu

UPenn.edu Admissions & Aid page

September 19, 2011
Written for Viget Labs’ Four Labs Blog
Original Post

I’ve been bursting at the seams trying to keep this one a secret, but the time has finally come to announce the new upenn.edu!

This site serves as the primary web portal for the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution in Philadelphia. Founded by Benjamin Franklin more than 250 years ago, Penn has rich historical roots and a modern, forward-thinking philosophy that has helped it grow into one of the world’s premier centers for education, scholarship, and research. It’s also the best school in the world (although, as an alum, I am clearly biased).

Penn’s previous site had been around since my freshman year (a long time ago, especially by web standards) and no longer accurately reflected the University’s evolving personality and standing in the global community. UPenn.edu needed a modern design that showcased the University’s friendly culture, top academics, and commitment to service … And, that’s where Viget came in.

UPenn.edu homepage, designed by Viget Labs

From our initial on-campus workshop to final site testing before launch, this engagement ran the gamut of our web expertise — including user experience and visual design, front-end development, and marketing services. We handed off our built-out files to the Penn team to integrate and add content, and everyone’s hard work culminated in a final product that truly does Penn justice.

The new site, informed by extensive user research, shows off the University of Pennsylvania’s unique features through beautiful campus imagery. These gorgeous images, many of which were taken by the talented Penn Web team, really make the site come alive. In particular, the simple yet eye-catching homepage uses striking visuals to tell the University’s story in a compelling way. The large background image changes each time the page refreshes, and the red headlines sidebar is anchored to the left for maximum impact. The Life at Penn section, another storytelling tool, gives a great glimpse into campus culture — particularly for off-campus audiences.

UPenn.edu Sports & Recreation

This main .edu site faces big challenges in that it needs to address every possible user group, from prospective students to staff to alumni, and it has to cover a ton of information. We used an audience-specific level of homepage navigation and carefully planned page layouts to point these diverse users toward the content they’re seeking. This one site connects the different departments, schools, and initiatives in an intuitive, organized way.

Thanks for all the hard work @viget! The new upenn.edu looks awesome! – @PennWebTeam

As someone with a ridiculous amount of Red and Blue pride, working on this project has been a dream come true! My sincerest thanks and congratulations go out to the wonderful Penn Web and Communications teams and my talented Viget team members. I think Ben Franklin would be amazed at your work and at just how far his University has come. Here’s a toast to dear old Penn!

The UPenn.edu of yesterday (2002 redesign):

The old UPenn.edu

The UPenn.edu of today (2011 Viget redesign):

UPenn.edu About page, designed by Viget Labs, 2011

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