Last October, we started brainstorming ideas for a dedicated marketing site; by December we had mockups and content for the main pages: the home page, the features page, and the case studies page. In the new year, however, this project's implementation got pushed and pushed back due to other pressing feature requests for the main portal. Until eventually, we were in grant-writing season, and desperately needed something we could attach to proposals and show to investors quickly. For this reason, I opted to use Framer Sites to create and deploy a live 'prototype' of the site. Since we were able to get our UI/UX designer up to speed on how to help generate pages quickly, we were able to dedicate our Lead's time solely to portal feature updates, and split my time between the website and portal work. This cut down the development time for this project by months, and allowed us to meet our team's needs, while still keeping our backlog of portal tasks from becoming unmanageable.
How I contributed:
The Lead Front End Developer, UI/UX designer and I worked together to define the scope for our ideal marketing site. I ended up leading a lot of this conversation, as the person on the team with the most recent experience working on marketing sites with a marketing team. I urged us to start from our potential audience, with the actions we wanted users to take after interacting with the website, and by gathering a complete understanding of what a "CGAP" really was. In that process, we did a lot of valuable work on the branding and marketing strategy, that then informed and guided all of our other work. We don't have an in-house marketing team, so this work was the first time anyone had really tackled these questions.
There were lots of conversations with project stakeholders and users to understand what CGAP is and isn't, what value we had to offer, and the best messaging strategy for our userbase. And once that was clear, we then built out a draft sitemap/list of pages, and our designer started putting together wireframes for the pages. In close collaboration with our expert user group and stakeholders, the UI/UX designer and I wrote and refined the copy and CTAs, then used that skeleton to refine the visual design of the mockups. From there, we started building the final prototype in Framer Sites, which I then deployed and now maintain.
What challenged me:
Despite having used Framer in my courses at the Extension School for around 2-3 semesters by the time I made the suggestion, it was still really nerve-wracking to put myself out there and offer it up as a solution. At the time, Framer Sites was still squarely in its beta stage, the interface was constantly changing, and there were a lot of reasons not to hinge this important project on it. But I really did believe that given the time/resource pressures and constraints imposed upon us, using this tool would allow us to achieve the best possible result within those constraints without contracting out the work (expensive), or compromising on our common vision for the site (also expensive, just in a different way).
What I learned:
Although we've definitely had some hiccups along the way, our experience using Framer Sites has been mostly positive. So I feel like I'm definitely more willing now to take these sorts of leaps, offer novel solutions, and try new tools as a result of this experience. I also have learned a little something about pitching: and it's that the best way to pitch a solution is with actions, not words. To sell my team on this tool, I created a rough prototype version of the site's home page over a weekend, and showed it to my team as a demonstration of how much it could (potentially) speed things up. From there, it was a matter of training other folks how to use Framer, and putting in the work. I spent very little time convincing people it was the right move.