Our First Web Reliability Consultation Proposal
I've been bugging you all about a book I recently wrote and am publishing in weekly chapters called Web Reliability. It describes a framework for achieving Web Reliability where the term refers to optimizing the flow of customer desire in, through and out of a website. The framework is composed of nine parts made up by the intersection of six interlacing ideas. A customer's desire on a website must be motivated, low in resistance and well managed. The way to do that is to have a solid team, good planning and effective action.
I developed the framework as a way to try and capture what I have learned over the 20 years of building and maintaining websites for clients of all sizes and types. As I worked my way through the process I came to realize that it represented a form of expertise. This expertise could be brought to bear on website problems for clients at both the troubleshooting and planning stages.
The work has already been successful in that it has proven to resonate with the intended audience: owners of revenue generating websites. In fact, it has an interesting and more specific resonance with potential owners of such websites. I was in conversation with such a person a few days ago, because of the Web Reliability work.
My prospective client and his colleagues have a rough idea for a new web business. They have been developing it for about a year now. They haven't built and launched a major website before. This is new territory for them. They need some sort of a frame of reference for what is important about such a web venture.
My prospective client has an inkling and an intuition about how they might build their start-up, but they don't really know what key questions to ask and they don't know what initial steps to take. Up to now they have spent most of their time on filing for business licenses and filling out articles of incorporation. They have skirted around the core work of identifying a customer, intuiting what hurts and developing a financially rewarding remedy for that customer's ailment.
I argued that they very desperately needed something to exist. They needed to throw themselves into Goethe's maxim, "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." So I proposed to them that their first step was to build and launch a proof of concept. Take a bold, courageous step into the world and declare a point of view. Own a customer. Own their problem and try to own the remedy. I argued that prior to a proof of concept came a discovery and planning exercise to develop the concept.
Yesterday I submitted Solspace's very first Web Reliability Consulting Proposal. We've done this kind of work for years. We routinely conduct paid discovery and planning exercises for our clients in preparation for complex projects. It's not the first time that we have worked with a client and their customers to walk into the fog, wade into cloudy water and inhabit ill-defined space. Over the years we have developed a set of skills that help us take vaguely defined notions and intuitions and turn them into clearly articulated problems that can be solved. The Web Reliability Framework is an outcome of this kind of work. So this proposal is the first of hopefully many that lean into a practice area at Solspace that now has clear definition.
In this consulting practice our goal is to help our client recognize their customer, empathize with them, understand their desire within a specific area and create a web presence that supports the flow of that customer's desire to a reliable resolution. One stage involves interviews with the various stakeholders involved in the project. Another stage of the work involves interviews with people who represent the different customer types of the project. Yet another stage includes ideation work with experts in technical fields pertaining to the project such as big data, inference engines, cloud computing, et al. This ideation stage is led by the project lead whose principle strength is as an empath - someone who can hear, feel and assimilate a group of contributors into a cohesive team.
Does this feel like consultanty hand waving voodoo? It does to me sometimes. But I get over it quickly when I think about launch day and work my way backwards.
On launch day you launch a reliable web presence. That web solution reliably serves customer desire and allows it to flow in, through and out of the thing. Prior to that big launch day, with marketing campaigns and all that, you have released smaller lighter versions of the web presence to smaller groups of customers. Prior to that you launched an initial proof of concept. Prior to that you developed the concept into a coherent plan for something that could be built. Prior to that you waded into ill-defined space and emerged with a clear conception of a problem to solve. When looked at in reverse order, our work in the first stage of this thing is not hand-wavy at all. It's real. It's valuable. It results in Web Reliability.