An old “M.A.S.H.” quote comes to mind when I think of our recent website redesign project partnership with St. John Fisher College: “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.” We work with many wonderful clients, but I think the team at St. John Fisher takes the prize for being just, well, so nice. Positive, pleasant, and glass half full.
To launch a beautiful, functional, responsive website that is sustainable — one that contains just the right amount of curated content spaces to balance the need for fresh storytelling with staffing and resourcing realities.
Fisher’s website hadn’t been redesigned in eight years and its content management system (CMS), dotCMS, was showing its age: It hadn’t had a new release in years, and support steadily dwindled every year. Our first challenge was helping Fisher find a new CMS. After a thorough selection process, we landed on TerminalFOUR.
In addition to the great strategy, design, and development work that our teams did together, there are three things that I believe contributed to this project’s success:
1. Humility, Good Humor, and Work Ethic
The team at St. John Fisher worked hard. They worked smart, yet they were very humble about their capabilities. Most of all, they laughed a lot, at both the good things and the bad. They have an attitude toward their work that I admire, which made it a pleasure to work with them over the past year.
2. Understanding Limits
The mStoner team made recommendations on how long it should take to evaluate, revise, and migrate the content to the new CMS. When it became clear to Fisher’s marketing team that the resources they thought would be available weren’t materializing, they didn’t try to plow forward doing more with less; they re-evaluated their capabilities midstream and decided to make the smart decision to delay their launch. This kept the staff from getting burned out and allowed them to maintain a high level of quality. But changing timelines is easier said than done, and it often depends on …
3. Clear, Realistic Expectations
From the beginning of the project, the Fisher team resisted the urge to promise specific dates for launch. Instead, they discussed expectations of the quarter in which the website would launch. I think this was wise, because it allowed them the flexibility to adjust their schedule as unexpected demands on their time were introduced. If a project is run too tightly, any delay can be perceived as “failure.” But Fisher’s ability to set a flexible goal from the start meant that the project was seen as a success, even though the launch wasn’t on the exact date they had in mind when we started the partnership.
Attitude matters. There are a thousand things that can cause stress throughout the course of a large-scale project and a hundred ways to react to unexpected wrinkles that will further compound project problems. Teams that support one another, build one another up, and make each other laugh will succeed more than those who don’t.
Our team had a great time working on this project with Senior Web Designer Jody Benedict, Director of Marketing and Communications Kate Torok, and the entire Fisher team. Congratulations to all of them on a job well done!